Sai Wan's double comeback takes sting out of Scorpions

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 April, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 April, 2002, 12:00am

RMDK Little Sai Wan made two comebacks yesterday to snatch a dramatic six-run victory and stop HKCC Scorpions completing the double at the Hong Kong Cricket Club. Sai Wan came back from the brink twice, while batting and bowling, to score an improbable victory over the HKCC side, who were hoping to add the Sunday Cup to their League title.

It was heartbreak for Scorpions, who had been brought ever so close to victory by stylish opener David Mallinson and skipper Adam Smith. But the old, restyled maxim 'it ain't over until the fat umpire sings' held true as the Scorpions fell agonisingly short in their run chase.

Set 258 to win, the home team were coasting along at 179 for one in the 37th over when Sai Wan grabbed the key wicket of left-hander Smith, who struck a well-compiled 85. Fast bowler Afzaal Haider made the important breakthrough that breathed life back into a flagging Sai Wan outfit.

Returning for his third spell, Haider first softened Smith with a rising delivery which the batsman played and missed outside the off-stump. Perhaps unsettled a bit, Smith offered a tame catch off the next delivery to Nasir Sajjad at extra cover.

Smith's back was a sight for sore Sai Wan eyes. Having come in at the fall of opener Tim Smart's wicket with the score on 11, Smith quickly took control. He played aggressively, especially on the onside, and kept the scoreboard ticking. Mallinson was content to be cast in a supporting role and the pair put on 168 runs to seemingly take the game out of Sai Wan's domain. But Smith's departure opened the door.

'I was a little bit worried at that stage but at the same time I knew that we needed just one breakthrough to get back into the game,' an elated Sai Wan skipper Tabarak Dar said.

Unfortunately for Scorpions none of the incoming batsmen stuck around long enough to strike up a partnership with Mallinson, who kept one end going. Scorpions lost big-hitting Iain Hodgson, who was bowled by a superb yorker from up-and-coming teenager Shkawat Ali, and Martin Lever fell to a great catch by wicket-keeper Saboor Ahmed diving to his right.

The loss of two batsmen capable of pushing the score along was a huge blow for Scorpions. Mallinson found some solidarity with Warren Dinesh as they took the score from 189 for four to 217 But here, too, it was Mallinson who had to take all the responsibility. Dinesh was out bowled by Ali in the 45th over with Scorpions 38 runs adrift.

Despite Mallinson's heroics, the lower order failed to stick around long enough or score enough runs. Mallinson completed his century in the penultimate over when he and Trevor Tully scrambled two runs. But he was dismissed next ball caught at long on and his dismissal ended all hope.

Scorpions needed nine runs from the last over but Dar made up for his team's 22 wides with a tight over, which included the wickets of Tully and veteran campaigner Gopal Lalchandani, to give Sai Wan an improbable victory.

'It was never going to be an easy total to chase. Once I got out, we lost a couple of wickets and then it was not going to be easy for the lower order to come out and get the runs,' Smith said.

Winning was a distant dream for Sai Wan when opting to bat first, they struggled to 110 for five. Dar was out at this score, caught at extra point trying to half-drive, half-push a Lever delivery. With half the team out in the 24th over, Scorpions were right on top. But Sai Wan fought back through Ayaz Shah and Haider, the pair putting on a 88 runs for the sixth wicket. Wicket-keeper Tully took a bottom-edged catch to dismiss Shah for 52, but Sai Wan refused to cave in with youngster Ali showing a maturity beyond his years and giving valuable support to Haider.

They put on a further 51 runs to take the score to 249 before Haider was out for 57.