Kowloon Cantons Win T20 Blitz

Kowloon Cantons won the 2017 Hong Kong Blitz, defeating City Kaitak by 25 runs in front of a packed house at the Tin Kwong Road Recreation Ground in Mong Kok.

City Kaitak had booked their place in the final by beating Hong Kong Island United in the last group game on Sunday morning when they successfully defended 155. The HKI United team were bowled out for just 105 as none of their big stars fired. Needing to reach their victory target in 17.4 overs to overtake City Kaitak on net run rate United continued to swing hard as they were bowled out inside their 20 overs.

When the final got underway we saw yet more of the phenomenal run scoring that has been such a feature of this event. Hong Kong’s captain Babar Hayat and West Indian Dwayne Smith opened the batting after the Kowloon Cantons had won the toss.

The two men shared a stand worth 149 runs from 12.5 overs as they dismantled the City Kaitak bowlers in a brilliant period of attacking batting. It looked as if Hayat would be the second Hong Kong international to score a hundred in the tournament, after Nizakat Khan made a century for Hung Hom JD Jaguars on Saturday. It wasn’t to be as he reverse swept the ball on to his stumps off Nadeem Ahmed for 76.

Dwayne Smith also lost his wicket to Nadeem after making 68 from 43 balls, but he should have been dismissed in the very first over. He drilled a ball from Tillakaratne Dilshan straight to Chris Jordan. Almost inexplicably the England bowler, who is considered to be one of the best fielders in the world, put down a simple chance.

The Cantons were not done with the run scoring as they posted the highest score of the tournament so far, 222 for three. Marlon Samuels made 32 and Ashar Zaidi 24 in their final overs to set City Kaitak a daunting 223 for victory.

Kaitak’s chase began well as Scotland’s Kyle Coetzer and Sri Lanka’s Dilshan put on 65 in 4.5 overs. Smith has finished as the leading run scorer in the tournament with 259, but Coetzer was just behind him on 254. In the final he made a superb 63 from 37 balls that included seven sixes.

For City Kaitak to overhaul the mammoth target they needed Coetzer to be there at the end but the newly appointed Scotland captain was caught by his international colleague Calum MacLeod off Tanveer Ahmed.

With Coetzer gone all eyes turned to West Indian Nicholas Pooran who had scored 11 sixes in the event heading into this innings. He added two more to that tally as he scored 28 from 15 balls, before he was caught on the boundary. With the big hitters gone the chase began to fall apart as the City Kaitak fell 25 runs to go short of their target.

The Cantons have been the front runners for the whole of this tournament and emerged as worthy winners after five brilliant days of cricket in Mong Kok.

Winning captain Babar Hayat was delighted to set such an imposing total in the final. “222 is not easy to chase in a final so it was a good total. There was nerves when Coetzer was going well. In the first six overs there are only two fielders allowed outside the circle so you can make lots of runs. But I knew if we took one wicket we would win the game.”

The tournament organisers were delighted with how things went over the five days of cricket. “The Blitz was beyond all of our wildest dreams, for all of the hard work from all of the franchises, staff, volunteers and press that have come, people that have watched online and everyone at the ground,” said Tim Cutler, the Cricket Hong Kong CEO. “I couldn’t be happier. And yet there is so much room to grow. As excited as I am about the success of our second addition of the Blitz I am looking forward to the next step in Hong Kong cricket even more.”

Additional reporting: HK Cricket
Photos: Panda Man

T20 Blitz @ Tin Kwong Road – 11 March, 2017

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A fantastic T20 Blitz organised by HK Cricket attracted a sellout crowd to Tin Kwong Road at the weekend who enjoyed the smash smash bang cricket as it rained 6s. The big name international players showcased their skills and the Hong Kong players responded impressively and contributed massively to the success of the tournament.

Respect to the team owners who put the money up to enable the Blitz to happen, looking forward to next year already!
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Nizakat Khan Shines Bright

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.

If you can’t make the ground the games are being live streamed on the Cricket Hong Kong’s YouTube and Facebook pages.

Additional Reporting: HK Cricket
Photos: Panda Man

Rath, Botha and Misbah Brighten Day Three

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Day three of the Hong Kong T20 Blitz saw more big hits as the tournament continued to defy the grey skies and brighten the day for a lively crowd.

Misbah ul Haq blasted 82 from 42 balls on day two and he went past that score on the third day of the tournament as he was again the mainstay of the Hong Kong Island United innings against Galaxy Gladiators Lantau in game five of the tournament.

The United team were in serious trouble at 62 for four after nine covers and needed their captain to rescue them. Misbah made 84 not out from 50 balls as he took the HKI Untied team to 177 for seven off their 20 overs.

While Misbah was imperious, his innings wasn’t chanceless. When he was on eight he edged Ryan Ten Doeschate through to Sangakkara but the Sri Lankan great could not hang on to a very difficult catch. From there he consolidated and then accelerated. Misbah passed 50 from 39 balls before scoring 34 runs from the next 11 balls he faced as he took his side to a competitive total.

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The Pakistan Test Captain’s was not enough, as the Galaxy Gladiators Lantau raced to victory thanks to half centuries from Anshuman Rath and Kumar Sangakkara. The two elegant left-handers shared a stand worth 111 runs in 12.2 overs. 19-year-old Anshuman once again shone as the Hong Kong international made 53 from 47 balls to anchor the chase as Sangakkara blasted his way to 70 from 42 as the Galaxy Gladiators won by eight wickets with an over to spare.

In match six the Hung Hom JD Jaguars took on the Kowloon Cantons. The Cantons won the toss and elected to field first; with a slight drizzle in the air they wanted to be chasing. The Jaguars got off to a poor start and were reduced to 49 for four with both their big hitters Daren Sammy and James Franklin dismissed. They could have been bowled out inside their 20 overs but a man of the match performance with the bat from Johan Botha enabled them to reach 164 for nine from their 20 overs.

Botha made 65 from 37 balls as he shared a stand of 80 with Jonathan Foo who made 34. There have been some massive scores already in the second edition of the T20 Blitz – not least by the Kowloon Cantons who chased down 200 in less than 15 overs on the first day of the tournament. The real danger man for the Cantons was Dwayne Smith who scored 121 from 40 balls in his first innings of the tournament.

Smith could not find the same timing as that marvelous hundred and made just 10 from 14 balls before he holed out. With Smith gone the pressure then on Marlon Samuels who had also scored runs in that first game. Samuels made just 22 before he too was caught in the deep.

A decent innings of 45 from 31 balls from Scotland’s Calum MacLeod kept the Canton’s hopes alive but when he lost his wicket to Franklin the chase fell apart with the JD Jaguars winning by 18 runs.

Saturday’s Day 4 sees three matches taken place, with the first starting at 7.45am! All five teams will be in action with the Cantons playing twice in front of a sell out crowd. If you can’t make the ground the games are being live streamed on the Cricket Hong Kong’s YouTube and Facebook pages.

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Additional Reporting: HK Cricket
Photos: Panda Man

Six Fest on Day 1 of T20 Blitz

An action packed first day of the 2017 Hong Kong T20 Blitz saw a 31-ball(!) Dwayne Smith hundred, four fifties and an Ashley Caddy hat-trick!

The start of the first game of the tournament was delayed by a heavy shower, but the ground staff worked hard to get the outfield fit for for play as the crowd waited patiently for the cricket to get going, and their wait was well rewarded.

The rain meant the game between the Galaxy Gladiators Lantau and Hung Hom JD Jaguars was reduced to 11 overs a side. While a late start may have dampened spirits of the crowd the JD Jaguars were quick to entertain. The men responsible were Darren Sammy and James Franklin who shared a stand of 102 runs from just 36 balls. Franklin made 58 from 27 deliveries and Sammy 52 from 19 balls. Between them they smacked 11 sixes. Tin Kwong Road is a small ground but many of the shots that Sammy and Franklin were launching over the fence would have been six anywhere in the world.

Bowling first Yorkshire’s Azeem Rafiq kept things tight early on for The Galaxy Gladiators with his clever off-spin, and the Lantau side had reduced the Jaguars to 43-3 after five overs. It looked as if the Jaguars would struggle to set a competitive total. Those concerns were waylaid when Franklin and Sammy embarked on their attack that saw them destroy a strong bowling attack with some fine power hitting.

The Galaxy Gladiators needed someone to match the hitting prowess of Sammy and Franklin, but they could not put together a partnership that would allow them to get close to their target. The best innings from the Lantau side was from Hong Kong international Anshuman Rath who made 45 from 26 balls, including a lovely switch hit six. No one could stay with Rath and the chase fell away. The Hung Hom team won by 27 runs but not before Ash Caddy punctuated an emphatic win with a hat-trick in the last over.

Match two was no less enjoyable. It saw City Kaitak take on the Kowloon Cantons and once again it rained sixes. A poor start from City Kaitak saw them reduced to 23 for three and in danger of losing their way. A 125 run stand between Kyle Coetzer (87) and Chris Jordan (75) saw Kaitak reach 199 for six from their 20 overs, setting a target of exactly 200.

That should have provided the Cantons with a challenge, but Dwayne Smith didn’t see it that way. He hit Nadeem Ahmed for 28 runs from the first over on his way to a century that he made from just 31 balls. He finished 121 not out in an innings which included 13 sixes.

Smith was joined at the crease by Marlon Samuels and between them the two West Indians took their team home. Their partnership was worth 142 runs in 9.4 overs as they dismantled the bowling of Jordan, Rayad Emrit and Aizaz Khan. The Cantons won the game with 33 balls to spare and with eight wickets in hand.

Day two sees HKI United play Hung Hom JD Jaguars at 10am, then Galaxy Gladiators Lantau play City Kaitak at 2pm.

Additional reporting: HK Cricket

 

T20 Blitz Ready For Blast Off

The T20 Blitz returns to the Tin Kwong Road Recreation Ground for a second year, as teams confirmed their final list of players ahead of the first match starting on March 8.

The 16 player squads – which contain 25 international players from nine different countries, boast some of the best T20 talent in the world and contain no less than 11 ICC World Twenty20 champions – may have a maximum of 4 overseas players, plus one Associate nation player.

Cricket legends Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Shahid Afridi, Darren Sammy and were the first big names signed in January, but they’ve since been joined by the likes of Samuel Badree, Ian Bell, Chris Jordan and Marlon Samuels.

And to add further interest, West Indies legend Brian Lara will mentor the Galaxy Gladiators Lantau franchise. “We could not be happier with the final squad lists that have been submitted by the five franchises,” Cricket Hong Kong CEO Tim Cutler said.

“To see 25 of the world’s best T20 cricketers is simply amazing and is surely beyond anyone’s expectations for this second HK T20 Blitz.”

Cutler continued “I’m not sure who I am more excited for – the fans in the ground and around the world are going to be able to watch world class action – or the Hong Kong players, who get to play alongside and against some absolute idols of the modern game.”

“In true Hong Kong style, there quite simply isn’t a tournament like this anywhere else in the world and to that end it is no surprise we have fielded requests for information from across the globe. A huge thanks to our five franchise owners. Without them there is simply not Blitz.

City Kaitak

Overseas players: Tillakaratne Dilshan (SL), Kyle Coetzer (Sco), Nicholas Pooran (WI), Rayad Emrit (WI), Chris Jordan (Eng)
Domestic Players: Aizaz Khan (Capt), Nadeem Ahmed, Gareth Harte, Ryan Buckley, Waqas Barkat, Raag Kapur, Akbar Khan, Niaz Ali, Ankur Sharma, Sheryar Saeed, Siegfried Wai.

Galaxy Gladiators Lantau

Overseas players: Kumar Sangakkara (SL), Jesse Ryder (NZ), Sohail Tanvir (Pak), Seekkuge Prasanna (SL), Assad Vala (PNG)
Domestic players: Anshuman Rath (Capt), Mohammad Awais, Mo Khan, Haseeb Amjad, Daniyal Bukhari, Courtney Kruger, Karandeep Singh, Arshad Haroon Mohammad, Ishaq Ibraheem Muhammad, Jason Lui, Sourav Kumar

Hung Hom JD Jaguars

Overseas players: Darren Sammy (WI), Mohammad Hafeez (Pak), Mohammad Naveed (UAE), James Franklin (NZ), Johan Botha (SA)
Domestic Players: Kinchit Shah (Capt), Nizakat Shah (Vice Captain), Ninad Shah, Chris Carter, (Wicketkeeper), Imran Arif, Simandeep Singh, Sikander Zafar, Ashley Caddy, Skhawat Ali, Damien Yee, Vishal Sharma

Hong Kong Island United

Overseas players: Misbah Ul-Haq (Pak) (Capt), Ian Bell (Eng), Samuel Badree (WI), Saeed Ajmal (Pak), George Munsey (Sco)
Domestic players: Jamie Atkinson, Tanwir Afzaal, Ehsan Khan, Daniel Pascoe, Kyle Christie, Moner Dar, Muhammad Balal, Devang Bulsara, Rory Caines, Ady Lee, Anas Khan

Kowloon Cantons

Overseas Players: Shahid Afridi (Pakistan), Dwayne Smith (WI), Marlon Samuels (WI), Yasir Arafat (Pak), Calum MacLeod (Sco)
Domestic Players: Babar Hayat (Capt), Tanveer Ahmed, Shahid Wasif, Waqas Khan, Isaac Poole, Ehsan Nawaz, Ahsan Abassi, Li Kai Ming, Muddasar Hussain, Angus Robson, Sunny Bhimsaria

T20 Blitz
Date: 8-12 March, 2017
Venue: Tin Kwong Road Recreation Ground
Tickets: $1,300, $600, $195, $90 from Ticketflap

Additional reporting: HK Cricket

Hong Kong v The Netherlands ODI @ Tin Kwong Road – 18 February, 2017

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Perfect weather and a noisy partisan crowd were not enough to prevent Hong Kong losing the second ODI to The Netherlands at Tin Kwong Road Recreation Ground on the 18 February. Read the match report here.
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Hong Kong Fall Short Again…

For the third time in a week Hong Kong and the Netherlands laid on a thrilling game but unfortunately for the partisan crowd at the Tin Kwong Road Recreation Ground it was the visitors who triumphed again.

It was another high scoring affair, the Netherlands posted 314-9, with the heroics of Anshuman Rath and Babar Hayat again not enough for Hong Kong as they fell short by 13 runs in a match they should have won.

In the four day game, Hong Kong dominated but didn’t have the mental fortitude and the game smarts to win the match and were forced to settle for a draw. The same applied in both ODI games, although chasing 300+ totals in both matches, Hong Kong laid the foundations to win but failed to finish the job. Credit to The Netherlands who stuck to their task, but Hong Kong should have had a clean sweep. The players need to learn how to win.

Netherlands opener Michael Rippon (53 off 78) and Ben Cooper (78 off 72) gave Netherlands a solid base, getting the Dutch to 97-1 in 20 overs.

Again it was a team effort from the Netherlands with the bat, with six players scoring over 20. Captain Peter Borren (49 off 43) and Pieter Seelaar (31 off 23) provided the impetus at the end of the innings.

The Netherlands threatened to make a higher target but were restricted in the final overs on a wicket just starting to lose some of its pace.

In response it was the familiar faces of Anshuman Rath and Babar Hayat who again dominated for Hong Kong. They took Hong Kong to 144-1 after 29 overs when Rath was stumped off the bowling of Rippon who backed up his half-century with two wickets in a man-of-the-match display.

For Rath, at just 19 the future is bright. He is now the leading run scorer in the World Cricket League after scores of 134 and 85 in the series. Nizakat Khan lifted the rate and blasted 41 off 26 balls to leave Hong Kong requiring 103 off 78 balls with 8 wickets still in tact.

But as in the first match, the Netherlands bowled with clever plans and good execution in the final overs. The home side couldn’t find the boundary enough and when Hayat was dismissed for 86 off 80 balls, the match was as good as done.

“There are a lot positives for us, there is a lot of talent in the dressing room and we are not far away,” Hong Kong captain Babar Hayat said. “We should have won one of these games at least and done better, so the players are just disappointed. It’s hard to take being so close in both games and not getting a win.”

Netherlands captain Peter Borren was understandably delighted with his side taking both games in the series. “A really good team performance from us. 315, we were pretty happy with that at half time on a wicket getting a little bit tired.”

“You have to give credit again to Anshuman and Babar who have batted for the last 9-10 days where we have chased a lot of balls, they deserve better than what they have got here but we are delighted to have the points from these games.”

“We can be very proud with how we have done in the last week or so against a very good Hong Kong team, they have been fantastic hosts.”

The Hong Kong squad will now break off into their Hong Kong T20 Blitz squads with that tournament to be held on March 8-12.

Additional reporting: HK Cricket
Photo: Panda Man