India set to arrive at the last minute for Hong Kong Sixes today

Organisers forced to rearrange flights after players were obliged to honour domestic commitments before heading for HK

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 October, 2012, 4:15am

It will be rush hour for India who will arrive early this morning and dash straight to Kowloon Cricket Club for their opening game in the Karp Group Hong Kong Sixes.

Harried organisers were forced to change flights for the team after domestic fixture rescheduling forced the squad to delay their arrival.

"A number of domestic games were washed out last weekend and rescheduled for Thursday. The players had no option but to stick to their domestic commitments, which meant they could only leave late last night. We are expecting them at six in the morning [today] and they will probably come straight to the ground," said a spokesman for the tournament yesterday.

Organisers may change the schedule on the opening day to accommodate India's late arrival.

India have also made a last-minute change with skipper Praveen Kumar pulling out. He will be replaced by Sandeep Sharma, a right-arm medium-pacer in the same mould as Kumar. A line-and-length bowler, Sharma was a member of the triumphant India Under-19 squad at the World Cup in Australia this year.

For the first time, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has been involved in the selection of the team for the Hong Kong Sixes. Although this version of the game is not officially recognised by the BCCI (unlike test, one-day and the Twenty20 versions), the governing body had been helpful in the selection process.

India have won this event only once - in 2005 under the captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni who was just starting to making a name for himself. And fans hope this squad, bristling with IPL players, will break the drought.

While India had to change their flight schedule, Sri Lankan captain Jehan Mubarak also endured a nightmare journey after being detained at Colombo airport on Thursday morning. Mubarak had been involved in a court case and could not leave the island. Though the case was settled, immigration authorities had not been informed.

"Jehan was told at the airport that he couldn't leave the country as he was still on a blacklist," said teammate Chamara Kapugedera. "Fortunately, it has been cleared now."

Mubarak, who was in this region the last time back in 2010 when he captained Sri Lanka at the Asian Games in Guangzhou, arrived yesterday afternoon.

"There have been a few scares, but all teams and players have arrived barring India. Hopefully they will clock in early tomorrow morning," said the spokesman yesterday.