Kowloon Cantons have won the 2017 DTC 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 when 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 there was they managed the highest score of the tournament so far, - a fantastic 222 for three. Marlon Samuels made 32 and Ashar Zaidi 24 in the final overs of the match to set City Kaitak a daunting 223 for victory.
When the City Kaitak side got their chase they 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 runscorer in the tournament with 259, but Coetzer finished just behind him on 254. In this match he made a superb 63 from 376 balls that included seven sixes.
For City Kaitak to reach the mammoth target they had been set they would need 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, but he too fell 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.
“220 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.”
Those that ran the tournament were over the moon 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.”