Australian cricket legend and Hong Kong T20 Blitz commentator Dean Jones previews each squad a week out from the tournament starting on February 6 at Tin Kwong Road Recreation Ground.
Jones played over 200 games for Australia in all formats and is the coach of Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League, who have their sister team Hong Kong Island United competing in the Blitz.
Samuel Badree (WI), Rayad Emrit (WI), Sohail Tanvir (Pak), Ravi Bopara (Eng), Kyle Coetzer (Sco)
Anshuman Rath, Aizaz Khan, Waqas Barkat, Jamie Atkinson, Manjinder Singh, Ishtiaq Muhammad, Umar Mohammad, Raag Kapur, Mudassar Hussain, Siegfried Wai, Kalhan Marc Challu
Looks like they’ve got a great balance to their overseas players with a mixture of experienced batsmen, bowlers and all-rounders. I’ve heard good things about Anshuman Rath from the locals and on paper they have good depth. I think Bopara has the potential to be their key player – he knows his game with the bat so well and scores all around the ground. His medium-pacers I could see causing some problems as well. The question will be who becomes their match-winner if they get behind in the game?
Kumar Sangakkara (SL), Seekkuge Prasanna (SL), James Franklin (NZ), Cameron Delport (RSA), Jofra Archer (Sussex), Chetan Suryawanshi (SGP)
Karandeep Singh, Haroon Arshad, Imran Arif, Shahid Wasif, Amandeep Singh, Li Kai-ming, Moner Dar, Muhammad Balal, Mohammed Osama, Awais Mohammad
Very exciting list of overseas players with the class of Sangakkara and the dynamic skills of Jofra Archer, who will be feeling a million dollars after the IPL auction! Don’t underestimate Franklin or Delport either – they are seriously experienced T20 players – Delport in particular is very destructive on his day. They possibly have the best overseas talent but their locals are largely untested at this level with not much international experience for Hong Kong so they will need one of their young players to step up.
Kamran Akmal (Pak), Mohammad Irfan (Pak), David Wiese (RSA), Luke Ronchi (NZ), Hussain Talat (Pak), Ryan Ten Doeschate (NED)
Tanwir Afzaal, Ehsan Khan, Yasim Murtaza, Zeeshan Ali, Daniyal Bukhari, Ahsan Abbsai, Suhaib Ahmad, Jason Lui, Chris Carter, Hamed Khan
My United boys have been hit hard with Hasan Ali and Shadab Khan forced to withdraw but there is still a lot of experience. Mohammad Irfan has been out for 12 months but he could a real enforcer in their attack, while Kamran Akmal, Luke Ronchi, Ryan Ten Doeschate and young Hassain Talat will provide some serious hitting power. David Wiese can hit a long ball too and will be very reliable with the ball. Looks like they’ll need overs from their Hong Kong players, so the performances of Tanwir Afzal, Ehsan Khan and Yasim Murtaza (who has First Class experience in Pakistan) will be crucial.
Darren Sammy (WI), Ben Laughlin (Aus), Riki Wessels (Eng), Johan Botha (RSA/Sydney Sixers), Roelof van der Merwe (Ned)
Kinchit Shah (Capt), Nizakat Khan, Tanveer Ahmed, Adil Mehmood, Kyle Christie, Ninad Shah, Nadeem Ahmed, Scott Mckechnie, Damien Yee, Aarush Bhagwat, Rana Nasrulla
No Chris Lynn is a huge blow but there is a lot to like about their overall squad and looks like there are plenty of Hong Kong caps in their domestic players. Their middle order looks like it will be very strong with Wessels, Sammy and Van Der Merwe so if they can find a good opening combination they’ll have the finishing power to put a big score on the board. Although no out and out quick in their squad it looks like they have options in the bowling department.
Dwayne Smith (WI), Wahab Riaz (Pak), Samit Patel (Eng), Ashar Zaidi (Eng), Paul van Meekeren (Ned)
Babar Hayat, Ehsan Nawaz, Waqas Khan, Ryan Buckley, Adeel Shafique, Hussain Butt, Hassan Khan, Simandeep Singh, Sunny Bhimsaria, Saad Mahmood, Bobby Chan
The two-time champs will have every team gunning to knock them off this year so third time around they won’t be getting any easy games! Dwayne Smith has great memories of this tournament last year and will likely partner with Babar Hayat up the top again. If they can do the business again they will be hard to beat. Ashar Zaidi and Samit Patel are both very reliable, solid cricketers and you can bank on them for wickets and runs. If Wahab Riaz is on song – batsmen look out! I think pace will be a real asset if teams can get a look at the lower-order.
There is absolutely nothing in it between these sides and it’s near impossible to pick a winner. Each game looks like it will be a great match up, but of course as coach of Islamabad United, I’ve got to support the family and tip a win for Hong Kong Island United. They’ve got depth in their overseas and some match-winners among the local players.