Captain Babar Hayat Scores Magnificent 141 Not Out

ICC sanctioned First Class cricket finally made it’s long awaited debut in Hong Kong and captain Babar Hayat ensured it would be a milestone day for his side with a magnificent unbeaten century.

Hayat the owner of the first, First Class and T20 International hundreds by a Hong Kong player, added another feather to his cap with an unbeaten 141 as Hong Kong amassed 366-3 on day one of the ICC Intercontinental Cup match against The Netherlands.

Sent in to bat after losing the toss, debutant Matt Stiller and Chris Carter got Hong Kong off to a spritely start, scoring 50 runs in the first 10 overs with crisp drives a feature of their play. Stiller eventually nicked a good delivery from Vivian Kingma for 42, but the 90-run partnership had laid a strong platform.

Carter and Hayat continued to score freely, guiding Hong Kong to 121-1 at lunch. Although The Netherlands’ bowling attack was hampered by an injury to opening bowler Timm Van Der Gugten, who suffered a shoulder injury while diving in the outfield.

After the break, the spin of Roelof Van De Merwe slowed progress somewhat but Hong Kong again only lost one wicket in the session, that of Chris Carter for 84 – his highest First Class score.

Resuming at 227-2 after tea, Hayat and Nizakat Khan played with freedom. Babar’s century, courtesy of an ungainly dive, came from 162 balls, while Nizakat raised his 50 in 89 balls.

The partnership was worth 117 when Nizakat fended a ball to second slip following the introduction of the second new ball. The day was already Hong Kong’s at that point and the Hayat and Anshuman Rath (23*) partnership added 53 before the close. The home side are in a strong position to accelerate further on day two.

“The boys got off to a really good start and then when I came in they kept supporting me,” Hayat said. “I’ve never batted for this long before so I’m really pleased with this, we were thinking 230 or 240 would be a good score at the end of the day so we are looking forward to hopefully putting 500 on the board tomorrow.”

“The guys have been working really hard on our batting and everyone was feeling good coming into today so pleasing to put a good performance on the board.” Hayat continued “We lost the toss but thankfully they chose to bowl first, hopefully the wicket can spin on day three and four.”

Additional reporting and images: HK Cricket

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Taste of Hong Kong 2017

The Taste of Hong Kong returns for a second year to Central Harbourfront from 16 to 19 March. This year’s festival features an increased number of Hong Kong’s top restaurants, confirmed so far are Amber, Arcane (Sunday only), Cafe Grey Deluxe, Chino, Duddell’s, Kaum at Potato Head (Thursday & Friday only), Mercato, Okra (Saturday only), Rhoda, Tin Lung Heen, Tosca, Yardbird and Zuma with perhaps three more to come. Each restaurant will serve four taster portion sized plates: three standard items at prices $50-$200 and one iconic dish that could cost anything…

So what is Taste? The concept is that you can sample taster size portions of dishes from restaurants that you might never visit and create a meal from a range of cuisines. It is a interesting idea, sort of like changing restaurants between each course of a meal – and organisers IMG have turned it into a very profitable global concept.

bc was underwhelmed by last year’s event, not by the concept but by the execution – read the report here. We do love food though, so we spoke to IMG about how they’re looking to ‘improve the experience’ this year.

As HongKongers we’re accustomed to queuing but IMG have said they’ll be working with the participating chefs and restaurants to improve the service efficiency. Increase the information about which dishes are still available, including having far more of the icon dishes per session. As well as having drinks carts serving people in the queues.

There is to be more seating, covered and uncovered. A wider range of entertainment and more artisan shops to purchase food and drink from. Plus an expanded range of talks about food and wine.

The invited chefs look to have a better understanding of the concept and several of the icon dishes show they’re looking to offer something unique at Taste.

IMG appear to have addressed a lot of the frustrations that dampened enjoyment last year with some more improvements yet to announced but it all sounds promising for a tasty event in March.

Taste of Hong Kong
Date: 16-19 March, 2017
Venue: Central Harbourfront
Tickets: $678, $198, $168 from Ticketflap

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Hong Kong Take On The Netherlands

A year after it was supposed to happen Hong Kong finally set to play their maiden international first class match at home – after the total washout of the 4-day match against Scotland last January – and Captain Babar Hayat is confident in getting a result against The Netherlands.

Sunny skies are forecast and Hayat is looking for his team to continue where they left off at the recent Desert T20 tournament in Dubai when Hong Kong hammered The Netherlands.

“It was good to get a win against them in Dubai and that gives us confidence but this is a different format of the game that they have more experience in so it will be a hard match,” Hayat said.

“But in home conditions this will favour us as most of their players will have never been here before. Our record at home has been really good and we want to keep that going in the I-Cup as well.”

Hong Kong currently sit fifth on the Intercontinental Cup table but a win could see HK leapfrog The Netherlands into third position. Hong Kong’s remaining fixtures in the I-Cup will be Afghanistan at home in October and PNG in Dubai to finish the competition.

Coach Simon Cook says the team are well prepared, “Finishing in the top half of this league was the aim but top four or top three is definitely within our scope. That will be a very, very good achievement as there’s no history of longer form fixtures in Hong Kong,” Cook said.

“They are a very good side. They’ve shown that in previous world cup qualifiers – their side has a lot of experienced players with also some young players they’ve brought as well. It’s their off-season so our advantage is we have been playing cricket for the last five months and they haven’t, so they may be a bit short of match practice.”

Play commences daily at 9.30am at Tin Kwong Road Recreation Ground and entry is free for all four days.

The I-Cup squad features two new names, with Matt Stiller and Under-19s captain Jhatha Subramanyan in line for a potential debut out of the 14-man squad named.

Hong Kong Squad

ICC I-Cup v Netherlands (10-13 February)
1. Tanwir Afzal (Pakistan Assoc.), 2. Nadeem Ahmed (DLSWCC), 3. Christopher Carter (KCC), 4. Waqas Khan (DLSWCC), 5. Tanveer Ahmed (KCC), 6. Babar Hayat (DLSWCC), 7. Aizaz Khan (KCC), 8. Ehsan Khan (DLSWCC), 9. Nizakat Khan (HKCC), 10. Ehsan Nawaz (KCC), 11. Anshuman Rath (HKCC), 12. Ninad Shah (KCC), 13. Matt Stiller (KCC), 14. Jhatha Subramanyan (HKCC)

ICC WCLC v Netherlands (16 & 18 February)
1. Tanwir Afzal (Pakistan Assoc), 2. Nadeem Ahmed (DLSWCC), 3. Tanveer Ahmed (KCC), 4. James Atkinson (KCC), 5. Christopher Carter (KCC), 6. Mark Chapman (HKCC), 7. Ehsan Nawaz (KCC), 8. Babar Hayat (DLSWCC), 9. Aizaz Khan (KCC), 10. Ehsan Khan (DLSWCC), 11. Nizakat Khan (HKCC), 12. Waqas Khan (DLSWCC), 13. Anshuman Rath (HKCC), 14. Shahid Wasif (DLSWCC)

Additional reporting and images: HK Cricket, Peter Della Penna

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Soccer Sevens Return in May

The HKFC Soccer Sevens turn 18 this year, with Tournament Director Chris Plowman announcing an expanded main event line-up of top leagues sending teams looking to dethrone 2016 winners Aston Villa.

“I can tell you now,” said Plowman “that we will be seeing representation from three of Europe’s top leagues: Serie A, Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga as well as our regular visitors from the Premier League and Scotland’s Premier League, plus teams from the K-League in South Korea, the J.League in Japan, Australia’s A-League, Singapore and, of course, Hong Kong.”

The Masters tournament which runs alongside the main event and features many legends of the past will again see a team from the legendary Wallsend Boys Club. Founded in 1904 just outside Newcastle the Boys Club has been the footballing birthplace for a long line of players including Alan Shearer, Peter Beardsley, Michael Carrick and Tony Sealy.

Wallsend are setting up a local branch. “We are looking to establish exactly what we have on Tyneside in Hong Kong and give underprivileged children the chance to play football and get them into leagues. We will supply strips from the UK and give them all the backing that we can,” said Wallsend Boys Club chairman Steve Dale.

HKFC Soccer Sevens
Date: 26-28 may, 2017
Venue: HK Football Club
Tickets: tbc

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Premiership Preview – 21 January, 2017

Valley Black take on the USRC Tigers as first plays third in the Women’s Premiership Game of the Week at Happy Valley, kick-off is at 6pm. The Tigers have made big strides this season as they look to close the gap on the league’s front-runners but will have to be at the top of their game having lost the reverse fixture 32-3 earlier in the season.

Tigers Coach Liu Kwok-leung noted that his side could still be a bit rusty as their 61-10 win over Kowloon last weekend was their first competitive match since November – and despite the lengthy lay-off, the Tigers are struggling with injuries.

“We’ll probably bring some players up for the game against Valley, which will make getting the result that much harder, but it will give a chance for the younger players to get more experience,” said Liu.

“Valley is a tough game, but we’ll do our best. We’ve been preparing hard, and we know them much better now than when we met earlier this season. We’ve been working a lot on our defence, as if you can’t defend against Valley, you have no chance to attack,” added Liu.

Liu is also encouraged by the rapid development of some young players in the Tigers set-up: “We’ve got a few U18 girls coming through, which is really exciting. Hebe Talas will start this week on the wing. She’s a quality athlete and will be a major player for us in the future.”

Talas, and forward Maelle Picut who will start on the bench, were part of the U18s girls sevens side that won Hong Kong’s first Asian U18s Girls Sevens Championship last December, scoring a try in the final, a 12-5 win over Kazakhstan. “I’m really looking forward to see how these girls go,” said Liu

The Tigers’ U18s could find themselves facing their Hong Kong team-mates Kelsie Bouttle and Clare Coey who have both been getting Premiership match time with Valley this season.

“We can’t lose focus as we can’t afford any mistakes against Valley. They have a lot of national team players. We can learn a lot from playing them, but we don’t have any pressure. We can just tell the players to go out and enjoy it and that’s when we perform best,” said Liu who is satisfied with the Tigers’ position in the table: “We don’t feel any pressure to move up the table. We can continue to focus on our performance, as we’re confident we can keep ahead of the clubs below us. Our game isn’t yet at the level to consistently match Valley and Gai Wu so we need more experience, which is why this weekend is important.”

“Our target is the Grand Championships. We have set a goal to reach the final and beat whoever we face there,” Liu added.

With an undefeated run that is now in it’s third straight season, Liu can expect that opponent to be Valley, who also have their eyes on the same prize.

“We’re keeping an eye on the Grand Championships now and working on the expectation that we’ll play Gai Wu again, but this is rugby and anything could happen,” Valley Black coach Elliot said.

“Tigers are a good side. They know what they’re doing so it’s always a tough game. Our girls really want this win, but we’re also mindful that the schedule is going to get a lot tougher in the coming weeks. Our challenge now is to play some of our make-up games while managing player availability and fitness and, of course, not picking up too many injuries.”

“We need to get through this tough game on Saturday, and then we play Football Club next Thursday, which will be the first time we’ve met this season. We play them again the following week, giving us two matches against them in nine days, which can be tricky.”

Elliot has reshuffled his forward pack in the hunt for some new combinations for the remainder of the season and that could offer an opportunity for Tigers.

“It will be a baptism of fire for our forwards against the strong Tigers pack,” Elliot concluded.

In the other matches this weekend Gai Wu Falcons will face fourth-ranked HKFC Ice, while sixth-ranked Kowloon looks for its second win of the season against fifth-placed Causeway Bay Phoenix.

Additional reporting and photos: HK Rugby, Panadaman

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Match Report: CWB Phoenix 12-5 HKFC Ice @ So Kon Po – 14 January, 2017

Saturday saw a tough, hard fought Women’s Premiership match between HK Football Club Ice and SCAA Causeway Bay Phoenix at So Kon Po, Sarah Shuttleworth reports.

An early injury to Ice’s second row, Angelina Cheung, saw Zuzanna Osinska replace her and she proceeded to make her presence felt in the forward exchanges.

HKFC controlled the early possession in Causeway Bay’s half, causing pressure and displaying impressive scrum and line-out technique. Bobby Wilson made a clean break, after 15 minutes, but a resilient Phoenix defence refused to let Ice score.

Another drive from the HKFC forwards saw full back Jane Cheung sprint clear and run deep into Causeway Bay’s half. A strong try-saving tackle though saw her brought to ground within touching distance of the line.

Causeway Bay Phoenix made their first real scoring opportunity count, as a clean break by their wing Hau Sin Man secured the first try of the match. Hooker Chin Po Po made the conversion, 7-0 at the break.

Causeway Bay started off the second half confidently, looking threatening every time they had the ball. And the pressure paid off, as Hau Sin Man scored her second try extending Phoenix’s lead to 12-0.

Sophie Short came on at number 9 for HKFC, with Royce Chan moved into the front row to replace Denise Chan, and demonstrate some fast game play and exceptional tackles.

The new stringent interpretation of the tackle rules saw both sides have players yellow carded for high tackles.

Persistent foul play close to the line saw Ice awarded a penalty try early in the fourth quarter, a missed conversion left the score at 12-5 and all to play for.

With ten minutes to go, Ice looked dangerous in attack. A great piece of forward play saw Royce Chan drive for the line. Only for the Phoenix defence to hold her up, preventing her from touching down for the equalising score.

The last play of the game saw Ice with one final chance, a scrum 10m from the CWB line, However they couldn’t capitalise on the possession. Final score between two evenly matched teams, 12-5 to CWB Phoenix.

HKFC Ice:
Cheryl Gourley, Shonagh Ryan, Denise Chan, Claire Forster, Angelina Cheung, Claire Hunter, Nina Pirie, Bobby Wilson, Royce Chan, Helen Lee, Emma Shields, Jaime Ho, Jamie Bourk, Maggie Wong, Jane Cheung, Cynthia Luk, Zuzanna Osinska, Sophie Short, Paula Murcia, Rabbit Leung

Causeway Bay Pheonix:
Ho Pui Ki, Tsang Siu Ching, Chin Po Po, Chan Yan Yo, Hau Yan Tina Ho, Kong Yin Ting, Li Man Yi, Tsang Ching Man, Ka Lok Ng, Wong Sze Man, Lam Ka Wai, Kwok Yuk Lin, See Wai June Au, Sin Man Hau, Tsang Yuen Ying, Tze Yan Lam, Ka Ling Martini Ip, Tin Yan Dora Chim, Lau Sin Tung, Siu Man Nga

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Oman Humiliate Hong Kong in the Desert

Hong Kong’s Desert T20 adventure went from bad, conceding 185 against Scotland in their opening match, to humiliating in their second against Oman where their batting and hopes of progressing in the tournament imploded.

The Zayed Cricket Stadium will hold no fond memories, hopefully a change of venue for the final game will see Hong Kong at least competitive. Losing is part of the game, getting thrashed twice is not the best start for an important year for local cricket.

After wining the toss and choosing to bat, Hong Kong were bowled out for 87 with Aizaz Khan (19) top scorer and only two other players Ehsan Khan (10) and Chris Carter (17) reaching double figures.

In response, despite an early wicket to Nadeem Ahmed, Oman reach the target in the 11 overs for the loss of just three wickets.

“It is one of those things that happens every so often,” Simon Cook, the Hong Kong coach, said of the batting implosion.

“We paid the price for playing across the line too much. It was a cascade effect, and 88 is just not defendable.”

Hong Kong Desert T20 Fixtures
18 January: Netherlands v Hong Kong (Dubai International Stadium)

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Scotland Thrash Hong Kong in Desert T20 Opener

Scotland produced a dominant performance to defeat Hong Kong by 24 runs in the opening match of the Desert T20 tournament in Abu Dhabi.

The Scots powered to 189-3 from their 20 overs, before early wickets torpedoed Hong Kong’s chase before it could get into gear and despite strong resistance from the middle and lower order were restricted to 165-6.

After winning the toss, Scotland raced to 60-0 in seven overs, before Ehsan Khan removed both openers George Munsey (22) and Kyle Coetzer (31). Hong Kong though failed to capitalise on the breakthroughs as a record breaking 127-run partnership from Callum MacLeod (60 off 34 balls) and Richie Berrington (60 off 39 balls) saw Scotland post an imposing target.

A feature of the partnership, Scotland highest ever in T20 internationals was the reverse-sweeping skills and switch hits of MacLeod who hit 4 fours and 3 sixes.

In response, Aizaz Khan was run out without facing a ball and when Babar Hayat (10) picked out the man on the deep mid-wicket boundary Hong Kong were 32-2 in the fifth over.

Nizakat Khan, who hit a monstrous six over cover tried to repeat the effort but was caught at third man for 22 off as many balls.

Hong Kong’s two 19-year-olds Anshuman Rath (29 off 25) and Shahid Wasif (40 off 25 balls) added 41 in four overs, but with the run-rate creeping above 14 it was too big a mountain to climb.

Ehsan Khan’s crisp 42 off 22 balls at the end of the innings restricted the damage to Hong Kong’s net run rate, which could prove crucial in keeping hopes alive of progressing to the finals.

Hong Kong coach Simon Cook said his side were always up against it from the halfway mark.

“We were probably disappointed to be chasing 190 which wasn’t really a par score, it was more a 175 wicket and a very windy day with a big outfield,” Cook said.

“A few lapses with our fielding meant we were chasing too many, although I was pleased with our execution in their power play.” Cook continued “Again with the bat we had two run outs through basic errors and its those sort of things that cost you games.”

“Anshuman continued his good form, Shahid was again impressive and is really consolidating his place in the team and Ehsan Khan at the end hit the ball nicely so there were some positives. We did well in the end to get as close as we did.”

Hong Kong Desert T20 Fixtures
16 January: Oman v Hong Kong (Zayed Cricket Stadium)
18 January: Netherlands v Hong Kong (Dubai International Stadium)

Additional reporting and photos: HK Cricket, Cricinfo

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