11 March 2017
Super Saturday of the DTC Hong T20 Blitz saw three games take place at the Tin Kwong Road Recreation Ground as the tournament headed towards the final on Sunday afternoon. A sellout crowd saw brilliant performances from Marlon Samuels, Ian Bell, Kyle Coetzer and Nizakat Khan as they were treated to yet more thrilling cricket.
The first match of the day saw Kowloon Cantons play Hong Kong Island United in an early morning start. 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 far worse for the Cantons when Marlon Samuels was dropped for 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 previous 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 half way stage the JD Jaguars would be well placed to win and get themselves into the final.
It wasn’t to be as the explosive City Kaitak batting line allowed them to chase that total of almost 200 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 to see which of them could 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 allowed the Cantons to 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.
Tomorrow’s game between City Kaitak and Hong Kong Island United will decide the second spot in the final, and it could well come down to which team has the best run rate. But a win by City Kaitak means that will play the Cantons for the DTC Hong Kong T20 Blitz title.