Steve Smith and Nizakat Khan – Australia’s banned ex-captain and Hong Kong star are to be teammates at Global T20 Canada

SCMP

Hong Kong batsman Nizakat Khan will play alongside Australia’s banned ex-captain Steve Smith when they line up for the Toronto Nationals in June’s Global T20 Canada league.

Nizakat and Hong Kong captain Babar Hayat have secured franchises for the world’s latest T20 tournament, although the latter is hoping to recover in time from an injury after having the index finger of his left hand caught in a lift.

Smith and teammates David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were suspended from the Australia team after a ball-tampering scandal against South Africa in a test match in March.

However, they are still eligible for club or franchise cricket with Warner also playing in Canada for Winnipeg Hawks.

Welcome on from from hong kong @Nizakatkhan75 https://t.co/GN9CThl1Q3

— Daren Sammy (@darensammy88) June 3, 2018

Nizakat said he was looking forward to playing with Smith and sidestepped the ball-tampering issue.

“It’s going to be one of my career highlights to be honest, playing with some of the biggest names in test cricket,” said Nizakat. “I’m very lucky to be playing alongside Steve Smith.”

Baber is due to turn out for the Vancouver Knights at the June 28 to July 15 tournament, but Hong Kong coach Simon Cook says he is still nursing the injury.

“He has three fractures in his left index finger and it may be an uphill battle for Babar to be fit for the 28th,” said Cook.

Nizakat, who turned in some outstanding performances for Hung Hom JD Jaguars at this year’s Hong Kong T20 Blitz, was recommended to the Canada league by his Jaguars teammate and West Indies World Cup-winning captain Darren Sammy – who is also the Nationals skipper.

“Darren Sammy has been helping me out a lot and I really want to thank him,” said Nizakat. “I also appreciate the support of [governing body] Cricket Hong Kong. This is a great opportunity to show what Hong Kong cricketers can do on the world stage.

“It’s a good chance to prove myself,” said Nizakat, who also received help from his UK-based agent Team ICA.

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Other big names taking part in the tournament are West Indian master blaster Chris Gayle, Shahid Afridi (Pakistan), Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka), the Bravo brothers Dwayne and Darren (West Indies) and Pakistani Kamran Akmal, among others.

Nepal’s teen spin sensation, Sandeep Lamichhane, has been picked up by the Montreal Tigers.

“It’s very good for Hong Kong cricketers to be playing in these kinds of tournaments,” said Cook. “It’s a quiet time for the national players and it’s good for them to have some exposure against some top players.”

Hong Kong’s next major assignment is the Asia Cup qualifiers in India in September. Hong Kong will vie with Malaysia, Nepal, Oman, Singapore and United Arab Emirates for one place in the finals in UAE soon after the qualifier.

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