Hong Kong's Babar Hayat gives selectors a headache after big hit
Babar Hayat gave the selectors a pleasant headache on the eve of the ICC World Twenty20 qualifiers when he smacked an unbeaten 69 in the first warm-up match against Denmark to raise the question as to who to leave out when the action gets under way tomorrow in the United Arab Emirates.
Hayat, 21, is one of three players in the 15-strong squad who qualify under the ICC's four-year residency rule. With only two eligible to start, it was felt that all-rounders Tanwir Afzal and Haseeb Amjad would get the nod over Hayat, who is primarily a batsman.
His ferocious knock off just 37 deliveries, including five sixes and four fours, has presented skipper Jamie Atkinson and coach Charlie Burke with a welcome problem.
"It was a superb knock and it has forced himself into the reckoning," said Hong Kong manager Darrell Sellers after team breezed to a 140-run victory over Denmark.
"Everyone chipped in, but Babar easily stood out with that knock."
Hong Kong made 200 for four off their 20 overs with Irfan Ahmed (45) matching Hayat's strike rate at the start of the innings, and Nizakat Khan (40). Denmark were bowled out for 60 with Aizaz Khan grabbing three wickets.
"It was an all-round team performance and a great start to the campaign. But our first real test will come when we play Kenya in our second and last warm-up match," Sellers said.
"Denmark are ranked below us, while Kenya are one of the top six teams in this tournament.
The crushing win over Denmark will boost the spirits of Hong Kong, who aim to win one of the six spots open to associate members at the World Twenty20 next year in Bangladesh.
The 16 teams in the qualifying tournament are split into two groups in the preliminary round. Hong Kong's objective is to finish in the top five in their group, which includes Ireland, United States, Namibia, UAE, Canada, Uganda and Italy.