Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sri Lanka Confirm Squad For Hong Kong Cricket Sixes

The 2007 Hong Kong Cricket Sixes champions Sri Lanka have confirmed their squad for this year’s tournament with veterans Jeewatha Kulathunga, Indika De Saram and Nuwan Zoysa leading the charge at the Kowloon Cricket Club from October 31-November 1.

First played in 1992, the Hong Kong Cricket Sixes is the longest-running international tournament of its kind and will this year celebrate its 15th edition. As such, the Sixes has been included by the International Cricket Council (ICC) as a ‘Catch the Spirit’ event to celebrate the global governing body’s centenary celebrations.

Zoysa, who has played 30 Tests and almost 100 one-day internationals (ODIs) is a new addition to his country’s Hong Kong entry, while Sixes veterans Jeewatha Kulathunga, who will captain the side, and Indika De Saram are both remembered proudly for when they starred with the bat in the Lankans’ shock Cup final victory over the All-Stars two years ago.

The left-handed Zoysa boasts an international ODI strike-rate of almost 100, ideal for the Sixes format, while he famously took a hat-trick in his first over the game in just his eighth Test match. The three consecutive wickets came against Zimbabwe in Harare in November, 1999.

Also on the team are vice-captain Kaushal Lokuarachchi, who played for the Wayamba XI in the current Champions League Twenty20 in India, Chinthaka Jayasinghe, Hasantha Fernando and Dilhara Lokuhettige.

Captain Shahzada Saleem Ahmed, President of the Hong Kong Cricket Association, said: “Sri Lanka are always one of the most popular teams at the Hong Kong cricket Sixes, in no small part thanks to their superb victory over the All-Stars in the 2007 Cup final. With big-hitters like Kulathanga and De Deram playing alongside Zoyza, they will have a strong team once again.”

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Cricket Association has confirmed their final seven-man squad for the Sixes, with dynamic young all-rounder Irfan Ahmed one of the stars to watch. Najeeb Amar will captain the team, which also includes Tanwir Afzaal, Irfan’s brother Nadeem, Hussain Butt, Muneer Dar and Mark Wright. Aizaz Khan is the team’s reserve.

Irfan is part of Hong Kong’s new generation of cricketing talent and has now earned a call-up to the national Sixes outfit, who finished fourth in 2008 – their best-ever result at the tournament.

The 19-year-old Irfan is the player to watch after his man of the match performance in Hong Kong’s final game against the United States in recent the Under 19 ICC World Cup Qualifier in Toronto. Irfan also scored 102 runs in three innings without being dismissed on day one of the 2008 Sixes and was in contention for the Player of the Tournament award.

Ticket prices have also been revised in 2009, allowing fans to purchase two-day passes for $HK680 for adults, a 13 per cent discount over last year, while children’s tickets will be available for $380, a reduction of 15 per cent.

To give spectators greater flexibility, for the first time single-day passes will also be available at $HK300 (Saturday)/$470 (Sunday) for adults and $180 (Saturday/$220 (Sunday) for kids. Tickets are on sale through HK Ticketing, the Kowloon and Hong Kong Cricket Clubs and Dot Cod restaurant in Central.

The host broadcaster for the 2009 Hong Kong Cricket Sixes will again be Taj TV-owned Ten Sports from Dubai, who will provide a live broadcast of the entire event into Hong Kong, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Australia and South Africa. Additional coverage will also be seen in North America, the United Kingdom, Europe and China. The 2008 Sixes was broadcast to 80 million households worldwide.

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