HK all smiles after Bermuda victory
Jamie Atkinson was compared to South African test captain Graeme Smith as the youngster showed a maturity belying his tender age to lead Hong Kong to a superb eight-wicket victory over Bermuda in their second game at the ICC World Twenty20 qualifiers.
The smiles were back on the faces of the Hong Kong squad, after their opening-day loss to Nepal, and grinning the widest was man-of-the-match Atkinson, 22, whose unbeaten 87 saw Hong Kong sprint home in the 18th over, chasing a formidable 161.
Head coach Charlie Burke described Atkinson's innings as one of the best he had seen. Not only did Atkinson put Hong Kong's campaign back on track, but the captain will have instilled confidence in his young team who appeared overawed on the opening day.
'It was as good as any innings I have seen,' Burke said. 'Jamie is young for a captain, someone like Graeme Smith, when he won the armband for South Africa. And today he has once again proved he is a mature and very capable leader, just like Smith.'
With Hong Kong losing opener Babar Hayat in the first over, Atkinson and Irfan Ahmed took the game by the scruff of its neck as Hong Kong needed to score at eight runs an over.
The youngest captain in the 16-team tournament, which rewards the top two finishers with a place in the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka in September, Atkinson swept and pulled the spinners while dancing down the track to meet the pacemen. His approach worked with his 87 runs coming off just 55 balls, including two sixes and 13 fours.
Atkinson outscored Irfan, who like Hayat has been given a licence to go for his shots, especially during the first six overs of powerplay when only two fielders are allowed outside the circle. Irfan also reached a well-deserved half-century with six boundaries and two sixes,
The pair added 113 for the second wicket, before Irfan was caught on the boundary. Courtney Kruger joined Atkinson and they closed up with more than two overs to spare.
'Chasing down 160 in a T20 is not easy and I was very pleased with how we went about the run chase. Jamie and Irfan complemented each other and once they got in, they made sure they finished the job. It was a very good batting performance, especially Jamie's,' Burke said.
The same could not be said about the bowling as Hong Kong gave away too many runs - 60 off the last four overs - with their fielding sloppy once again. But unlike their performance against Nepal, the batting came good.
'This will give the boys confidence and I hope we can continue this momentum,' said Atkinson.
Hong Kong will meet Canada today.