Tight security for Hong Kong squad at World Twenty20 tournament

ICC taking no chances in cities hosting the event in Bangladesh

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 March, 2014, 9:42pm
UPDATED : Monday, 10 March, 2014, 9:42pm

Hong Kong's cricketers have been warned not to leave the team hotel alone, or even in small groups, as organisers have thrown a massive security blanket around the major cities hosting the ICC World Twenty20, which starts on Sunday.

"No one is allowed to leave the hotel unless team management is informed earlier so that security can be arranged. These are restrictions the International Cricket Council has placed on all teams due to the security worries," said Charlie Burke, Hong Kong head coach.

"The ICC doesn't want players wandering around on their own or in small groups. We too prefer it this way, and if we go out it will be as a team, but having said that I don't want the guys to be cooped up in their rooms.

The ICC doesn't want players wandering around on their own or in small groups
HK head coach Charlie Burke

"They have got to experience life in places they travel to, but we have to be sensible about everything and if the organisers say we have to go out with security, that is how it will be," Burke said.

Bangladesh has been gripped by political problems which have seen protests in recent months. Trouble began after Islamist leader Abdul Kader Mollah was executed in December for atrocities during the 1971 war of independence with Pakistan.

At one stage it seemed the Asia Cup, which ended on Sunday, would not go ahead and that the ICC World Twenty20 would be moved due to ICC fears over security concerns.

Jamie Atkinson and his team arrived on Sunday night from Dubai and experienced tight security with police escorts and roads blocked for the team bus as it sped from the airport to their hotel in Chittagong. The hotel has been ringed off and armed policemen can be spotted on the roofs of adjoining buildings.

Six associate countries have arrived for the preliminary stage of the tournament before the Super 10 stage of the competition gets under way from March 21.

Hong Kong play Nepal, Afghanistan and Bangladesh in the group stage, from which the winner will advance to the Super 10.

Hong Kong are on a high, having beaten Ireland - one of the favourites to advance to the main round - by seven wickets in a training match.

"The mood in the camp is buoyant. We had a good tough training tour of Sri Lanka and in Dubai we defeated Ireland and the Netherlands. Both teams have played at the ICC World Twenty20 before," Burke said.

A tight bowling spell from Tanwir Afzal - three wickets for eight runs with three of his four overs in the first six-over power play - put Ireland on the back foot. The top-ranked associate team were restricted to 108 for eight and Hong Kong knocked off the runs with three overs to spare with Babar Hayat, Waqas Barkat and Nizakat Khan all contributing with the bat.

"Confidence is up and the two wins have given us a huge boost. We just have to keep the momentum going now," said Burke.

Hong Kong will play two practice games against teams from the other group - Ireland, Netherlands, UAE and Zimbabwe - before meeting Nepal in their first group game on Sunday.