Kumble , Balaji, Manish Pandey in team for Hong Kong Sixes


The 2005 Player of the Tournament at the Hong Kong Sixes, Reetinder Sodhi, will return once again for the tournament to be played at the Kowloon Cricket Club. Also on the Indian squad are Sridharan Sriram, who has played eight ODIs, Stuart Binny, the son of former Indian all-rounder, Roger Binny, and Jagadesh Arunkumar, the leading run-scorer in the domestic Karnataka Premier League Cup.

First played in 1992, the Hong Kong Cricket Sixes is the longest-running international tournament of its kind and will this year celebrate its 15th edition. As such, the Sixes has been included by the International Cricket Council (ICC) as a 'Catch the Spirit' event to celebrate the global governing body's centenary celebrations.

Kumble, who had confirmed earlier for the event, is hoping to lead his team to a win to add to the only Sixes title they won back in 2005. This time Kumble will have the 28-year-old Balaji, an eight-Test and 30-ODI veteran.
Balaji, once a regular member of the national set-up in 2004 and 2005, was struck down with stress fractures, sitting out cricket for three years before returning to take 11 wickets in the Indian Premier League last year, including a hat-trick. His return was made complete earlier this year, when he was called into the national team in February against Sri Lanka.

Said Balaji: “Playing against Sri Lanka earlier this year gave me a taste of being back with an Indian team, so I am thrilled to be playing at the Hong Kong Sixes. Any team that has Anil has a chance to do very well and I am sure we can be real contenders for the Cup final.”
Along with Kumble and Balaji, also representing India is Kumble's Champions League Twenty20 team-mate from the Royal Challengers Bangalore - Pandey.

Pandey, who has just turned 20, stunned world cricket when he became the first Indian to record a century in the IPL, smashing 114 off just 73 balls against the Deccan Chargers earlier this year in South Africa in the tournament's second edition. With the innings including 10 fours and four massive sixes, the athletic right-hand bat will relish the chance to tee off at the Kowloon Cricket Club's short boundaries.

Said Pandey: “I have heard great things about the Hong Kong Cricket Sixes from Anil, who is an inspiration for all cricketers in Bangalore and India. I am thrilled to be coming to what I have heard is a very exciting event for the spectators and look forward to trying to put on a show for the Hong Kong fans at the Kowloon Cricket Club.”

Captain Shahzada Saleem Ahmed, president of the Hong Kong Cricket Association, said: “This is a stronger India side than the 2005 Sixes champion team. If you were putting together the ideal side for the Sixes, combining the leadership of someone like Anil Kumble and the youthful energy and hitting power of Manish Pandey would be a dream comes true."
In a new innovation for 2009, the Hong Kong Cricket Sixes pools will be divided into Northern and Southern hemisphere groups. As such, India will take part in showpiece matches against geographical rivals Pakistan and Sri Lanka on day one, along with a round-robin match against defending champions England.

The six-a-side cricket is the quickest, most fun-filled version of the game - a feast of world-class players, thrilling matches and big hits. First played in 1992, the Hong Kong Cricket Sixes is the longest-running and highest-profile Sixes tournament in the world. It offers two days of fast and furious action in a festival atmosphere - eight international teams, 45-minute clashes and global television coverage.

The Sixes won the prestigious 2007 ICC Award for Best Cricket Promotional and Marketing Award.
England recorded a record fifth Sixes title last year after a stunning final in which they finished tied with Australia on 121 runs. When Australian batsman Stephen O'Keefe was run out attempting a second run from the final delivery that would have given his team victory, England were confirmed victors as they had lost fewer wickets (three wickets to one).

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