Super Saturday at the T20 Blitz saw three games played as a sellout crowd saw some thrilling batting from Nizakat Khan, Marlon Samuels, Ian Bell and Kyle Coetzer.
The first match of the day started at 7:45am and saw Kowloon Cantons play Hong Kong Island United. Dwayne Smith, the tournament’s leading run scorer at the start of the day’s play, made 22 as he and Babar Hayat shared an opening stand of 41 in the PowerPlay.
Three quick wickets saw the Cantons stumble to 52 for three as both openers and Calum MacLeod fell in quick succession. It could have been worse for the Cantons when Marlon Samuels was dropped on 13 by Saeed Ajmal.
Samuels made the most of his good fortune as he went on to score 51 from 36 balls. That Samuels innings combined with an excellent 46 from Ashar Zaidi allowed the Cantons to make 168 for seven from their 20 overs.
Until now the Hong Kong Island United side have relied heavily on their captain, Misbah-ul-Haq. The Pakistan Test skipper had not been dismissed making 82 and 84. In this match he made just six runs before he was dismissed by Zaidi.
Ian Bell, returning to the side having missed the last match with a bruised foot, made an excellent 59 from 50 balls, but without any support the chase fell away to allow the Cantons to win by 44 runs.
In game two it was the Hung Hom JD Jaguars taking on City Kaitak in a high scoring affair. The JD Jaguars made 193 for four from their 20 overs, getting there thanks to a remarkable 120 not out from Hong Kong international, Nizakat Khan, who smashed 10 sixes. It seemed at the innings break that the JD Jaguars were well placed to win and make the final.
It wasn’t to be as the explosive City Kaitak batting line allowed them to chase down the win in just 17.1 overs. A 51 run opening stand between Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kyle Coetzer set the platform for the chase before quick fire innings from Waqas Barkat and Nicholas Pooran let them get the rate under control. Pooran was particular impressive, scoring six massive sixes on his way to 48 from 19 balls.
That win meant that the JD Jaguars would need to wait on the result of the final group game between City Kaitak and Hong Kong Island United on Sunday to see which of them make the final.
While one place in the championship game is still up for grabs on the last day of the tournament, the Kowloon Cantons returned for their second match of the day to destroy Galaxy Gladiators Lantau by 64 runs to book themselves a place final.
A brutal batting display from Babar Hayat and Calum MacLeod saw the Cantons post the highest total of the tournament so far – a massive 220 for three.
It would take something very special for the Galaxy Gladiators to reach that total, and they would need some of their star men to fire. The Lantau side struggled to get going, and despite a breezy 31 from captain Anshuman Rath they stumbled to 64 for six with Kumar Sangakkara and Jesse Ryder both falling cheaply. With those big hitters gone they could not force a win and were out of the tournament.
In the end Galaxy Gladiators were all out for 156, with a decent half century from Mohammad Awais the only real bright spot.
Sunday’s morning game between City Kaitak and Hong Kong Island United will decide the second spot in the final. A win by City Kaitak and they will play the Cantons for the Hong Kong T20 Blitz title, a Kaitak loss and the finals berth is decided on net run rate.