World T20 news March 10, 2014

'There is no pressure on Hong Kong'

Hong Kong will play in the first round of the World T20s without any pressure, according to Jamie Atkinson, the team's captain. Atkinson feels that this mindset will be troublesome for their opponents.

"Bangladesh are the favorites in our group," Atkinson said. "There is no pressure on us; at least that's how we are going to think about it. It is quite a dangerous thing for our opponents.

"It is a great moment for Hong Kong to qualify for the World T20 for the first time. We have had some good preparation. We have been in Sri Lanka for 10-12 days. We moved to Dubai in the last week or so, where we played against other Associate members."

Hong Kong head into the World T20 having beaten Italy, Uganda, Namibia and USA in last year's qualifiers tournament. They suffered defeats to UAE and Ireland, but in the playoff semi-final, they defeated Papua New Guinea to take the fifth spot available for the main tournament in Bangladesh.

Atkinson was the team's leading scorer in the qualifying tournament, making 241 with two fifties. Waqas Barkat also scored more than 200 runs, while veteran left-arm spinner Munir Dar picked up 17 wickets. Dar, however, will not be able to bowl as he was suspended by the ICC for 12 months in January. Still, his batting will come in handy, mainly due to his experience of playing in the Dhaka Premier League in 2007-08 for Old DOHS Club.

Atkinson also said that his team will take inspiration from Afghanistan's victory over Bangladesh in the recently-concluded Asia Cup, believing that the win showed how the two levels of cricket are inching closer to each other.

"It is great for associates that Afghanistan got that win against Bangladesh," he said. "It shows the gap is closing between Associates and Full Member countries. I think it is excellent for cricket as a whole."

Before heading into the main tournament, Hong Kong will play two warm-up matches against Zimbabwe and Netherlands on February 12 and 16 respectively.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here