Hong Kong T20 Blitz 2017

Hong Kong Island United land Pakistan test captain Misbah-ul-Haq for T20 Blitz

Batsman joins compatriot Shahid Afridi as well as Sri Lankans Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan and West Indian Darren Sammy for the March 8-12 tournament

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 January, 2017, 5:04pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 February, 2017, 12:42pm

This year’s Hong Kong T20 Blitz received another potent shot in the arm on Wednesday when it was announced Misbah-ul-Haq, the most successful test captain in Pakistan’s history, will lead the Hong Kong Island United franchise in the March 8-12 tournament.

The signings of Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi, Sri Lankans Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan and West Indian Darren Sammy had already been announced by various franchises for the 2017 edition, and HKI United have provided the coup de grace by sealing Misbah’s services.

Along with 42-year-old Misbah, United also boast two former Hong Kong captains in Jamie Atkinson and Tanvir Afzaal, with further signings expected in the coming weeks.

“It’ll be a new experience for all of us, and I hope we can take HKI United and the Blitz into a new era,” said Misbah.

“My aim, as always, is to lead the team to the winner’s podium. I’m sure the HKI United team will be strong enough to compete for that spot too.”

Right-handed middle-order batsman Misbah, who represented Pakistan in their recent test series in Australia, averages 45.84 from 72 matches with 10 centuries converted from 36 half centuries.

His future at test level remains unclear after suggesting he could retire after the series with Australia, which Pakistan lost 3-0 following losses in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

“To have a player of Misbah’s standing in the cricket world join us shows how big this tournament is getting and how vast our ambitions are. He’s a natural leader,” said former Australia and Hong Kong international Ryan Campbell, who is the coach of HKI United.

Misbah has also played 162 one-day internationals, averaging 43.40, and 39 T20 matches for Pakistan.

He averages 37.52 in the shorter format of the game with a high-score of 87 not out.

“We’ve worked with Misbah extensively over the past 12 months and we’re sure there isn’t anyone better to lead a new franchise,” said HKI United owner Amna Naqvi.

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“Considering what he’s already achieved with the Pakistan team ... I’m sure a repeat of that for HKI United is something he is fully capable of.”

Misbah was named test captain in the wake of the spot-fixing scandal in England in 2011 and has since led Pakistan in 48 tests, winning 24 and losing 13 with 11 draws.

He has also played in the Indian Premier League, Sri Lanka Premier League, Caribbean Premier League and Pakistan Super League.

“The announcement that Misbah-ul-Haq will be playing in the Blitz is a testament to how far the tournament has come in such a short time,” said Cricket Hong Kong chief executive Tim Cutler.

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“An inspirational test captain who also led Islamabad United to victory in the first Pakistan Super League last year is an amazing addition to the event.

“I am particularly pleased to see HKI United tap into their winning team across the United family to bring such as star to Hong Kong.

“Four marquee players have been announced, each one of them international captains and stars in their own right in what promises to be an amazing event here in Hong Kong.”