Hong Kong captain Tanwir Afzal and big-hitting Babar Hayat were on Thursday snapped up in the first two picks for the city’s inaugural Twenty20 franchise-based tournament, with the Hong Kong Cricket Association (HKCA) also announcing mobile phone company DTC as the title sponsor. Afzal was taken by Rude Bar Island Warriors, who earned the honour of the first pick because they led the other groups in silent bidding for the four franchises contesting the Hong Kong T20 Blitz on May 28 and 29 at Mission Road. Hayat, Hong Kong’s go-to man when it comes to hitting fours and sixes, was the next player to be selected, by Kowloon Cantons. Hung Hom JD Jaguars went for Nizakat Khan in their first pick while youngster Anshuman Rath was taken by Lantau GII Galaxy Riders. I think it will be an exciting tournament and you will see more sixes than in other games because the players know the ground very well Tanwir Afzal, Rude Bar Island Warriors “I wasn’t expecting to go first pick,” said Afzal, who will line up for the Warriors alongside Nadeem Ahmed and Adil Mehmood from the HKCA’s contracted players and under-19 cricketer Raag Kapur. “I think it will be an exciting tournament and you will see more sixes than in other games because the players know the ground very well.” The first round of picks was for contracted players followed by Hong Kong Under-19 cricketers. Max Abbott, the HKCA’s marketing and commercial director, said having DTC as title sponsor was a boost for the tournament. “It’s very exciting to have DTC mobile as title sponsor,” he said. “It’s great to have them on board and there will be great initiatives when it comes to selling tickets, which will open next week. “It’s taking the tournament to another level. It shows the level of interest we’ve had since we’ve announced this event. We hope to have a long partnership with our four lots of owners and we’re really impressed with how serious they are taking this.” Apart from Hayat, the Cantons have also picked Tanveer Ahmed and Ehsan Nawaz, along with U19 Kabir Sodhi. Jaguars will field Khan, Kinchit Shah, Chris Carter and Vishal Sharma (U19) while Galaxy Riders picked Rath, Waqas Khan, Li Kai-ming and Angus Robson (U19). Franchises will also be able to field overseas players, who will be contracted individually outside of the draft. Cantons have already announced one overseas player, 15-year-old Nepalese spin sensation Sandeep Lamichhane. He will play alongside HKCA chief executive Tim Cutler, whose name was also on the draft list. The tournament will be played in a round-robin format, with the top two teams battling it out in the final. The franchise names were finalised on Monday with each bid investing a minimum of HK$50,000. TEAM LINE-UPS SO FAR Rude Bar Island Warriors: Tanwir Afzal, Nadeem Ahmed, Adil Mehmood, Raag Kapur, Jamie Atkinson, Ehsan Khan, Muhammad Balal, Ahsan Abbasi, Courtney Kruger, Waqas Barkat. Kowloon Cantons: Babar Hayat, Tanveer Ahmed, Ehsan Nawaz, Kabir Sodhi, Shahid Wasif, Najeeb Amar, Tim Cutler, Ashley Caddy, Simandeep Singh, Akbar Khan, Sandeep Lamichhane, Ryan Campbell, Scott McKechnie. Hung Hom JD Jaguars: Nizakat Khan, Kinchit Shah, Chris Carter, Vishal Sharma, Ninad Shah, Manjinder Singh, Jangzeb Khan, Daniyal Bukhari, Uzair Khan, Mudassar Hussain. Lantau GII Galaxy Riders: Anshuman Rath, Waqas Khan, Li Kai-ming, Angus Robson, Moner Ahmed, Anas Khan, Amandeep Singh, Hiren Patel, Sikandar Zafar, Mohammad Awais, Niaz Ali.