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Hong Kong to Play Australia in First Game of HK Cricket Sixes this Weekend

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With the firm belief that this is their year, Hong Kong will be going all out to set the 2012 Karp Group Hong Kong Sixes alight from the very first ball with the home team scheduled to play in the first game on Saturday (27 October 2012) against 2010 champions Australia (08.30).

“This could be Hong Kong’s year and we really can win the Hong Kong Sixes for the first time,” said Hong Kong coach Charlie Burke. “We have a stronger team than last year and having come close on a couple of occasions I think we can go all the way this time.”

It will be all about momentum according to Burke, and as such winning the opening pool encounter against Australia will take on added significance in the eight-team tournament.

“Both pools are tough and there is little room for error. The Hong Kong Sixes is all about momentum. If you win your first match, it will boost the confidence of the side,” Burke said.

Hong Kong came close to winning the event in 2009 when they stormed into the final with wins over India and England only to falter against a determined South Africa. Last year, Hong Kong reached the Cup semi-finals underlining the fact that the hosts are no longer pushovers.

“We have a stronger outfit than last year. Last year’s captain Najeeb Amar has retired and his place has been taken by Irfan Ahmed who returns after missing out last year. Then we have Jamie Atkinson replacing Peter Wooden,” Burke said. “This is Jamie’s debut at the Hong Kong Sixes and he is determined to do well. He has had a fantastic last 12 months as captain of Hong Kong and will want to continue the good work ... Irfan’s return will boost the side. He is hungry and determined for Hong Kong to win. Then we have guys like Tanwir Afzal, who is a smart cricketer and very committed, who is bowling well and batting superbly, and veterans like Moner Dar who gets better and better with age.”

Hong Kong will have the benefit of playing two of their three pool matches early, having been drawn to meet South Africa in the third game of the opening day (10.00). Their final pool game will be against five-time champions England (14.30pm).

All three opponents will be tough. Australia will field a young side with Tim Armstrong providing the experience. The young blood will be keen to make the most of this opportunity and be determined to follow in the footsteps of David Warner who made his mark at the Hong Kong Sixes before going on to represent Australia in One-day internationals and Twenty20.

South Africa will depend heavily on the likes of Wayne Parnell and Colin Ingram as they bid to add a third Cup title to the ones they won in 2009 and 2006. South Africa will open against the hosts Hong Kong on Saturday before facing Australia at 13.00 and England in the penultimate match of day one at 16.00.

Joshua Cobb and Tom Smith will provide the know-how for a seasoned bunch of county professionals as England go in hunt of title number six and make amends for their loss in last year’s Cup final to Pakistan.

“In previous years the England team has been very competitive in Hong Kong and have done very well in the competition. Our goal is to go one better than last year and we are very focused on achieving that target,” said England manager Andy Hurry.

England’s chances will be buoyed by its Pool grouping alongside Australia, South Africa and Hong Kong in Pool A, while the other half of the draw is even more challenging with sub-continent rivals India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the mix along with top associate nation the Netherlands.

Defending champions Pakistan will open their campaign against the Netherlands before the excitement ramps up as they take on India (15.15pm) and finish off the first day’s competition in what promises to be a barnburner against Sri Lanka (16.45).

Led by wicket-keeper batsman Kamran Akmal, Pakistan will look to exciting new fast-bowling prospect Junaid Khan for inspiration. Junaid, 22, burst on to the scene earlier this year when he showed the country’s famed left-arm fast bowling production line is still continuing to produce by taking a five wicket haul against Sri Lanka in the test series in the Emirates.

The mercurial Pakistanis will have a battle on their hands when they come up against India in a match that is already being billed as the highlight of day one’s action.

India are fielding a side especially selected for the Sixes format and one bristling with players from the IPL under the captaincy of Praveen Kumar. As always expectations will be high from fans from both sides and this encounter once again will be a no-holds barred contest.

But watch out for Sri Lanka who has proven they could be dangerous like back in 2008 when they crushed a Shane Warne-led All Stars outfit to win their one and only Cup title.

Sri Lanka’s day one matches see them open against the Netherlands at 10.45. The Sri Lankans will be looking for a fast start to get a positive run rate started, as the triple threats of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will likely be battling for spots to advance to the Cup competition from Pool B.

Sri Lanka’s final two matches are against India at 13.45 and the final day one match versus Pakistan at 16.45.

Other 2012 Hong Kong Cricket Sixes-related stories: South Africa Beats Pakistan to Win 2012 Hong Kong Sixes, Pakistan On Course for Record 6th Hong Kong Cricket Sixes Title, Brad Hodge to Captain Australia @ HK Sixes, Hong Kong to Play Australia in First Game of HK Cricket Sixes this Weekend, India Names Strong Team for 2012 Hong Kong Cricket Sixes, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Netherlands Confirm Teams for HK Sixes, Irfan Ahmed Returns to Hong Kong Team for HK Cricket Sixes, 8 Countries to Compete in this Weekend's Hong Kong Cricket Sixes and HD Videos from Hong Kong Cricket Sixes 2012 and Pictures from the 2012 Hong Kong Sixes.

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