Batsmen succumb to Miles's wiles
As if she was one of the sirens in Greek mythology, Hong Kong's leading male cricketers continued to self-destruct before Natasha Miles. But cricket is a team game, and there is only so much one man, or in this case woman, can do - as the HKCC Optimists were left contemplating last night.
Natasha grabbed three wickets, including that of former Pakistan international Naeem Ashraf. But even her efforts were unable to prevent Optimists from slipping to a 42-run defeat at the hands of KCC Templars in the semi-final of the Sunday Cup yesterday.
Teenager Natasha, who is the first woman to play in the Sunday Cup, once again showed her promise as she had Templars in a spot of bother, having claimed three of their top batsmen - the talented Jamie Atkinson, Hong Kong international Afzaal Haider, and Ashraf, a former teammate of great Pakistan fast bowler Wasim Akram.
Haider was Natasha's first victim. Having slashed her for a boundary, Haider tried to repeat the shot but only managed to scoop the ball to extra cover where Shane Sibree took the catch.
In the next over, Natasha got one to beat the defence of the up-and-coming Atkinson who was bowled for a well-compiled 40. She then claimed her biggest scalp just after the drinks break when she enticed Ashraf into a false stroke that ended in Optimists' captain Mark Fuzes taking a lovely diving catch. 'She bowled really well. But I got out to a full-toss. I mishit it,' said Ashraf who played a handful of one-day internationals.
Natasha made the most of the early morning conditions at HKCC. Moving the ball away from the batsman, she bowled a steady line and length. Her deceptive medium pace posed problems for the opposition. The delivery which got Ashraf out was a dipping full toss and he played his stroke too early in his eagerness to hit the ball out of sight.
At 117 for five, Templars were in trouble. But Amjad Mahmood and Skhawat Ali steadied the innings putting on 118 for the sixth wicket to steer Templars to 274. Mahmood made 81 while Ali was 61 not out.
Natasha finished with three for 43 off nine overs, her last going for 16 runs with Mahmood hitting a six and two boundaries. That was the only blip on another fine bowling display. Unfortunately for the Optimists, the rest of the bowlers could not quite play the rocks to her siren role. In reply, Optimists were bowled out for 232 with Mark Eames top-scoring with 88. Natasha did not bat for she had been 'super-subbed' by Bob Ward.
Templars will now meet HKCC Scorpions in the Cup final next Sunday. Scorpions beat SCC Vagabonds by 34 runs in the other semi-final at Mission Road.