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2000-01 Domestic Season - Non League/Cup Matches
Platypus Cup - Independents XI versus Clubs XI at KCC, 17th September 2000


The match was arranged between a side representing the independent clubs, who have recently organised themselves into a properly constituted unit for better management and communication with the HKCA, and a side representing the HKCC and the KCC.

On the morning of the Platypus Cup game I arrived early at KCC. It is good to eat breakfast, soaking up the big match atmosphere as players and officials arrive. By the time I had finished my food, the Independents team were all changed and well into their routine of group stretches and warm ups. One couldn't help thinking that they meant business.


Ilyas Gul and Martine Sabine opened the batting against the Clubs' attack of Adrian Baker and Sher Lama. They made a cautious but confident start against some brisk but often wayward bowling from Baker who was able to get a fair amount of lift from a pitch that promised to be true if a little slow. Lama dropped into line and length, his practice for the Hong Kong Squad showing.

After bowling three overs for 17, with the score on 24, Baker gave way to Adrian Ashman who made the batsmen work harder as he probed for a breakthrough. However, the Independents pair were up to the task and, although he looked the bowler most likely to take a wicket, Ashman was denied, at least for the time being, and he took a rest having bowled four good overs for 20.


Ravi Sujanani took over from Lama and bowled a tidy spell, also of four overs for 20, that prevented the batsmen from surging ahead. Ravi has always been a good containing bowler at representative level. I remember a tidy spell against the India U19's just as they were going for the slog, and another in Singapore just before lunch when he bowled three maidens and completely dried up Bangladesh's quest for runs. Still, Gul and Sabine pressed on relentlessly, despatching anything loose, accumulating chanceless runs and the score grew.

Sharma used his bowlers in short spells on a morning that was uncomfortably hot and humid after the spell of good weather we had during the week. Lama came off after six good overs for only 14 runs, having given away no extras. At this point the sore was 47 off twelve. Martin Lever bowled the medium pacers that he bowls these days, also to good effect, holding back the score but not looking likely to take a wicket. Drinks were taken with Gul on 34 and Sabine on 30 out of a total of 71. Interestingly Sabine had faced 26 of Lama's 36 balls.


Adam Smith was introduced into the attack in the twentieth over and dropped straight into the groove to bowl an economical spell. The next over Gul reached his 50 ( off 65 balls) with the only four off Lever's spell of five overs for 20. But everyone was waiting for the maestro and after 24 overs with the score on 102, Rahul Sharma brought himself on from the club house end.


Gul and Sabine took this in their stride. As he neared 50, Sabine started to look a little weary and switched to all out attack. It had taken him 75 balls to score 37, but he now took fours off successive overs from Smith and moved rapidly to 78, scoring the 41 runs to do so off 24 balls.

Rahul had gone for 22 off his first three before he swapped ends with Smith. Adrian Ashman copped the change over which went for 13 runs, eleven of them to Sabine.


Martin's tactics were not slogging, but a measured approach picking the ball and the shot. But tiredness told in the end and he was out in the 32nd over for 78 with the score on 164, caught by the 'keeper, Amit Agarwal, off Sharma's bowling. He had scored his runs off 99 balls and received a great ovation for a sterling effort. Martin has been very consistent and a bit of an unsung hero for Hong Kong over the years and has made some useful runs against good sides, including Kenya, at times when the "stars" have found the going difficult.


Tabarak Dar had had the pads on for almost two hours and he took his time to settle in, scoring his first 8 runs off 28 balls. Then he explosively scored his next 40 off only 22 balls hitting some powerful shots that had his team-mates on their feet. He scored a brisk 48 before Ashman conned him with a slow full toss that Dar cross-batted to the safe hands of Baker, lurking down by the sightscreen at long off.


Salim Malik came to partner Gul and these two took the total to 311 for 2 off the 50 overs. Gul was 137 not out off 141 balls and Malik 26 not out off 10 balls. The last 10 overs of the innings had seen the score move on by exactly 100 runs.


If we had enjoyed the Independents batting we were given a real treat in the afternoon. Rahul Sharma and Mark Eames opened the innings for the Clubs and set methodically about their task of chasing an impressive total.


Sada Hussain, the Independent's skipper opened the bowling with Mohammed Zubair and Khalid Khan. Zubair appeared to be carrying a bit of off-season weight and was not his usual penetrative self, but we should not take anything away from the batsmen who both seemed to have plenty of time to play. Khan was a different matter. He came briskly in and delivered the ball straight and from his maximum height. Only 24 runs came off the bat in his first spell of 6 overs. If only he had not bowled so many no balls and wides, which cost him 15 runs, it would have been an impressive start. Surely this no ball thing is something he needs to work on. Zubair was also bowling wides and these cost him 7 of the 14 runs he gave in his initial spell of 4 overs.


Ghoar Khan took over from Zubair and also delivered the ball well from a good height. He was much more on line and went for only 15 off his 4 over spell. If he can keep this up he is in for a good season.

At the other end Brad Tarr had a short spell but each batsmen helped himself to a couple of fours of his three overs for 21. It looked as if Brad needed more match practice at this early stage of the season. Sharma and Eames ploughed on. Brad did have a good day in the field however. A good team man, looking after his team's batsmen during their long stand.


Jawaid Iqbal came on just before the drinks break and bowled superbly. He was to end up with two for 40, an excellent performance in a high-scoring match.

Drinks were taken with the score on 76 off 17, five runs ahead of the Independents score at the same stage. With both batsmen well set Khalid was brought back, but continued to bowl waywardly, his second over of 9 balls going for eleven.

Salim Malik came on, but he too came in for punishment going for 19 off two overs.


Sada's response to this was to bring on Gohar and to have a go himself from the other end. Sada is one of those captains who is always prepared to take on responsibility during a tough period.. His first over went for 15 runs and the next from Gohar saw another 14 added to the score. But Sada kept at it and only went for 5 in his next over while Zubair, who had relieved Ghoar, also received some stick, conceding 11 runs in his comeback over.


In Sada's next, Mark Eames lifted the fourth ball over extra cover but Ghoar Khan, running backwards and to his right, reached up and somehow managed to pluck the ball out of the air. It needed a superb effort like that to break the partnership of 183 runs in 30.4 overs This must rate as one of those classic stands. Rahul was his imperious self and Mark Eames showed us that he has more shots in his repertoire than we had previously thought; punching solid powerful blows all around the ground and capping the show with a delightful sweep to fine leg. He scored his 73 runs off only 84 balls. I have witnessed some beautiful innings from Mark, many of them longer and with higher scores, but this was the best I had seen him bat. Lal Jayasinghe the coaching manager of the Hong Kong squad must have been pleased indeed. At one stage it had looked as if he and Rahul would win the match on their own.


129 to win off 19.2 overs with Rahul looking well set seemed well within the reach of the batting side. The batsmen had crossed and Rahul took a run off the next ball to face Zubair in the next over. Zubair had decided to bowl off a short run to minimise effort and to increase his accuracy Rahul took a single off his second ball and Adam Smith who had sat with the pads on for two and a quarter hours was comprehensively bowled by the next, a fast yorker. Not a ball you want to receive when you have just come to the wicket.


Ravi Sujanani came in next and despatched the first ball he received from Zubair to the boundary for four. During the next over, Ravi smashed the fifth ball back at Sada and split the webbing between Sada's thumb and forefinger. Sada had to go off to hospital for stitches. The umpires brought the players off for drinks with the score on 190 for 2 off 33.5, 121 behind.


Ilyas Gul completed Sada's unfinished over. People were beginning to wonder how the Independents would fare without their captain who had done such a good job in keeping the in-form batsmen relatively within check, but Tabarak Dar, the vice-captain of the Independents side immediately brought back Khalid Khan with devastating results. The drinks break has always been the best wicket taker in my experience and again this proved to be the case. Khalid, like Zubair had done, was now bowling yorkers off his short run and he had Rahul caught by 'keeper Nasir Hameed off his third ball; just a faint nick.


Martin Lever came in to join Ravi. Jawaid bowled a maiden and then Khalid tempted Martin to drive at a ball that started well outside his off stump and left him. This was a justified shot as there were no slips but Nasir took the most acrobatic of catches full length infront of where second slip would have been. Martin can count himself to be very unlucky. The very next ball saw Mohanna Marzook plumb lbw. Jawaid trapped Ravi in the same fashion in the next over and the Clubs had slumped unbelievably from 183 for no wicket to 204 for 6 in the space of just four overs and one ball. What a turn around!


The rest was a foregone conclusion. Sher Lama and John Powell scored 13 not out and 14, respectively. Powel was bowled by Jawaid and Salim Malik had Adrian Ashman caught at mid wicket by Zubair, a skier, before Zubair himself mopped up by bowling Adrian Baker and Amit Agarwal with successive balls in the 44th over. Khalid finished with 3 for 43 and Zubair 3 for 47.

10 wickets had fallen for 58 runs in the last 12.5 overs, after only two wickets for 494 runs at the start. A remarkable turnaround indeed and one that Sada Hussain could hardly believe on his return from hospital.


And so a fine day's cricket came to an end. The high points were the batting of Gul, Sabine, Eames and Sharma, a fine opening spell from Lama, the best catches you will ever see from Ghoar and Nasir, an excellent spell of 2 for 40 by Jawaid Iqbal and fine controlled demolition work by Khalid Khan and Mohammed Zubair. A good al-round team performance and a top win for the Independents.

Thanks to KCC for their hospitality and in particular to the groundstaff for the pitch preparation; a good track so early in the season. Thanks also to umpires Mike Walsh and Bob Fotheringham and to scorer Kim who keeps a very neat book!

If next year's game is half as good it will be well worthwhile. I'll be there, in time for breakfast.

Report by Peter Slack, former Chairman, now a vice-president of HKCA. Peter was a selector along with Tony Turner and Sada Hussain for the Independents and was team manager of Independents side for the Platypus Cup match.

At KCC: Independents XI 311-2 (I Gul 137*, M Sabine 78, T Dar 48) beat Clubs XI 241 (R Sharma 90, M Eames 73; M Zubair 3-47, K Khan 3-43) by 70 runs.