TABARAK DAR: LEADING FROM THE FRONT

How has facing top-level bowlers helped you as a batsman?

I enjoy playing fast bowlers and one really has to be brave in order to take on someone with such speed. Facing these kind of bowlers has helped me read the delivery better although at that level it is extremely hard to do because the bowler is more attuned to your reactions. They are always quick and have a lot of variation making it hard to judge. I was constantly trying to play on the front foot and immediately Umar Gul would start to bowl short and he actually hit me in the helmet grille once.

Pakistan's batsmen though, had their fair share of problems facing our bowlers. They are used to the ball coming onto the bat much quicker and since our bowlers are comparatively slower to what they are used to facing, they found it hard - especially with our spinners. Against Pakistan we had them at 140 for 5 and then 161 for 7 before they managed to recover.

At that stage did you think you could beat them?

I think they realised they did not want to lose. Against India we were attacked more and things didn't quite go our way, but I was very happy with the way the team kept going in the field throughout, especially as there were so many left-hand right-hand combinations we had to be constantly on the move in the field.

Part of the success of the top teams is just how fit they are.

Hong Kong were finalists in the 2006 ACC Trophy which qualified you for the following Asia Cup, what are your chances of repeating that performance?

A lot rests on our spinners because they will have a major role to
play in the upcoming matches with the kind of pitches here in
Malaysia. This team has a lot of talent in it. It is quite a young team but there are still about seven of us who have played in the 2006 ACC Trophy.

In comparison to the 2006 squad, what advantages does this team possess?

Well, like I said, the team is quite similar but some of our younger players like Nadeem and Irfan Ahmed have a more mature head on their shoulders now. Also, we have selected a few boys (Zafran Ali, Niaz Ali and Shakeel Haq) from the U-19 squad which played here last August.

Your first game in the ACC Trophy this year is against Nepal. How do you think you'll do?

Nepal have a very similar team to the one they sent in 2006 and we know the team and their strategies well.  It is always good to start any tournament with a win, regardless of who your opponents are. But winning against a team as strong and consistent as Nepal would give us a huge confidence boost. Hopefully that would then set the tone for the rest of our tournament and we can take it from there.

2008 ACC Trophy Elite

Filed 20 July 2008