Hong Kong T20 Blitz

Champions Kowloon Cantons happy with five overseas players for 2018 Hong Kong T20 Blitz defence

Although allowed six from outside HK, they have gone with Dwayne Smith, Samit Patel, Ashar Zaidi, Wahab Riaz and Paul van Meekeren

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 January, 2018, 6:49pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 January, 2018, 7:22pm

Reigning champions Kowloon Cantons have finalised their squad for the Hong Kong T20 Blitz, with Pakistani left-arm fast bowler Wahab Riaz the final piece in the puzzle.

Wahab is joined by West Indies’ Dwayne Smith and England’s Samit Patel and Ashar Zaidi. Although six international players are allowed, Cantons have chosen to go with only five with Dutchman Paul van Meekeren completing the overseas contingent.

The squad will be led by Hong Kong captain Babar Hayat and they will be supported by some of the city’s top players. The line-up is completed by Ehsan Nawaz (retained), Waqas Khan, Ryan Buckley, Adeel Shafrique, Hussain Butt, Hassan Khan, Simandeep Singh, Sunny Bhimsaria, Saad Mahmood and Bobby Chan.

On Van Meekeran’s selection, Cantons CEO Urvashi Sethi-Sodhi said: “While our allowance is to have six international players, only five would be able to play.

“At Kowloon Cantons we continue to fulfil our promise to promote cricket and our associate nation player, Paul, will be an integral part of our playing team. With this view, we have opted for five internationals on our team.”

Cantons won the 2017 Blitz, beating City Kaitak in the final and were joint champions in the inaugural 2016 edition. This year’s Blitz takes place from February 6-11 at Mission Road.

Also competing are City Kaitak, Hung Hom JD Jaguars, Galaxy Gladiators Lantau and Hong Kong Island United.

Coach Craig Wright said: “We are very pleased with the squad we have put together. Between our international and local players, we have a good balance of batting depth and also a good range of pace and spin bowling options. We believe we have a group of players who give us a decent chance of defending our Blitz title.”

Paceman Wahab provides a boost to Cantons’ hopes of making it three in a row. On his test debut, against England at The Oval in 2010, he took five for 63, becoming the ninth Pakistan bowler to take five wickets on debut. Wahab frequently bowls at speeds of around 145km/h with his fastest delivery being recorded at 154km/h.

Zaidi is a left-handed batsman and left-arm orthodox spin bowler who is considered an all-rounder. His 24 off 16 balls played a big part in Kowloon Cantons victory in 2017.

Patel became the only man in the history of the English Twenty20 competition to claim a double-wicket-maiden when Nottinghamshire played Derbyshire at New Road, Worcester in 2006. A right-handed batsman and a left-arm orthodox spin bowler, Patel made his one-day debut for England in August 2008.

Smith’s 100 off 31 balls in the 2017 Hong Kong T20 Blitz was his own personal best and one of the fastest tons registered in Twenty20 cricket. He finished unbeaten on 121 off 40 balls, taking the Kowloon Cantons to an eight-wicket win against City Kaitak.