As it happened: Hong Kong T20 Blitz – Day Three
Hong Kong Island United take on Galaxy Gladiators Lantau and Kowloon Cantons face Hung Hom JD Jaguars
Watch: Kowloon Cantons versus Hung Hom JD Jaguars
5:16: Jaguars beat Kowloon Cantons by 18 runs. That’s a second win for the Jaguars and first defeat for Cantons. Jaguars set a target of 165 but the Cantons were never really in the chase, especially when big hitters Dwayne Smith and Marlon Samuels fell without really making an impact. They finished on 146 for seven in 20 overs. First inning scores are getting lower and lower but chasing teams are still struggling to overhaul their targets. Johan Botha the main guy today with 65 runs and that maiden in the first over.
Babar Hayat (Cantons captain): “We were a bit short of runs, we couldn’t really get going. It was getting a bit dark and more difficult to bat.”
Johan Botha (Jaguars and man of the match): “We tried our best to get as many runs as possible and in the end, we probably thought it wasn’t enough but we bowled well and happy with the win.”
Up next: That’s it for the day. The rain has simply refused to fall and let’s hope it stays that way tomorrow. It was very dark by the end of play but so far all the matches barring the first one on Wednesday have gone the full 20 overs each.
Three matches on Saturday starting at 7.45am Hong Kong time – Kowloon Cantons v HKI United; followed by City Kaitak v Hung Hom JD Jaguars; followed by Galaxy Gladiators Lantau v Kowloon Cantons.
See you on Saturday.
5pm: People power: Biggest crowd of the tournament so far, with more expected on the weekend. Marquees were pretty full and the grandstands had a fair amount of people despite patches of empty seats. About 1,000 would be a fair estimate. Organisers say all tickets for the weekend general admission are sold out and the only way to get in is to know someone important in the marquees.
4.30pm: “We want Indian players” musings 6: Final item on our theme for the day. We sent an email to BCCI media manager Gaurav Saxena asking for an explanation on why Yusuf Pathan’s NOC to play in the Hong Kong T20 Blitz was revoked. So far no response, though he has a couple of hours before office hours are done. Pramod, from India’s cricketcountry.com, is not surprised. “That’s how BCCI are. They have this feeling that they are not answerable to anyone.” How good would it be to have someone like Virat Kohli play in Hong Kong? Even a guy like Virender Sehwag, now retired, could still whack a ball at 38. Let’s hope BCCI is a bit more open-minded next year.
4pm: Sponsor calling: Sanjay Bhimsaria is the managing director of DTC Mobile, the company sponsoring the Hong Kong T20 Blitz. The Nepalese native is now a passionate Hongkonger and has been in the city for decades, even playing for a handful of Kowloon Cricket Club sides in the 80s and 90s. He said he had no hesitation in sponsoring the event because of what it can bring for Hong Kong. “We have a passion for cricket and a passion for Hong Kong and this tournament is just what Hong Kong needs. I’m very happy with how it has gone so far,” said Bhimsaria.
3:55pm: Maiden madness: Johan Botha just bowled a maiden to first-day centurion Dwayne Smith, of all people. Is that the first maiden of the tournament? Jaguars are not going to give up runs easily.
3:23: That’s 169 for nine by the Hung Hom JD Jagaurs, probably not enough to beat Kowloon Cantons with big-hitting Dwayne Smith in the line-up but still worth defending. Johan Botha top-scored with 65 while Jonathan Foo hit a decent 34.
Foo, apparently, is looking for regular cricket and he may look for it in Hong Kong. The 26-year-old Foo, a Chinese-Guayanese, was one of the rising stars of West Indian cricket but according to a close aide was not given the chance to prove himself by cricket authorities. “He could look at Hong Kong, given his Chinese background, but that would mean taking up residence in Hong Kong and then qualifying. Is he willing to do that?” said Phil Daniels, who is helping out the Hong Kong Island United team in the Blitz and is also from Guyana.
Anyway, it’s Cantons’ turn to bat. Could be some fireworks.
3pm: “We want Indian players” musings 5: Hong Kong Island Unitedhave access to a wealth of Pakistan talent, including Misbah-ul-Haq and Saeed Ajmal but they too would be happy to sign up a top Indian player if the opportunity presented itself. Co-owner Amna Naqvi said they didn’t try this year because of the BCCI rules but hope the Indian governing body makes an exception for Hong Kong. “Of course it would be great to have good Indian players here it would be a boost for the tournament and hopefully the BCCI changes it mind in the future,” she said.
2:27pm: Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal enjoying his time in Hong Kong with Brian Lara.
— Saeed Ajmal (@REALsaeedajmal) March 10, 2017
1:52pm: “We want Indian players” musings 4: If there’s one franchise that should have strong feelings about Indian players in the Blitz, it’s Kowloon Cantons. They actually did the hard work and had a NOC from the BCCI to allow Yusuf Pathan to play here. However, just like that it was revoked. Cantons CEO Urvashi Sethi and her team are not giving up and are hopeful that one day an Indian player will be gracing the Hong Kong T20 Blitz. “We tried our best to get an Indian player, not only for his worth as a player but as an ambassador to help spread the game in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, it was not to be and we sincerely hope that in the future we will be able to have some of India’s top players play in our tournament.”
1 2:43: Hong Kong’s Anshuman Rath has his fifty for Gladiators, off 42 balls. The Gladiators captain has impressed many during these three days of the tournament and has made Hong Kong proud with his poise and astute batting. He was saying on Thursday that he wanted to kick on from the two 40s he had previously scored and he’s certainly done that. A fifty for Sangakkara as well, off 35 balls. Gladiators can pick up their first win here.
Update: Gladiators have won it, Anshuman finishes on 53no and Sangakkara on 70no as they score an eight-wicket victory after two defeats. Their tournament is still alive but they still probably need to win their last two matches. One loss and one win for HKI United.
Getting dark here at Mission Road. After a bit of sunshine earlier, the skies are struggling to hold back. A downpour is entirely possible. Covers are on but looks like play is possible for the next match.
Anshuman Rath (Gladiators captain): “It was a good win, I’m happy to have gone and got some runs. Feel relieved after two losses.
Ryan Campbell (HKI United coach): “In the end, we didn’t score enough runs. We have Misbah, one of the best batsmen in the world, but we really didn’t really make the most of it.”
Next up: Kowloon Cantons v Hung Hom JD Jaguars at 2pm Hong Kong time.
12:20: Whistle-blower: A marshal just came up to a young volunteer and instructed him not to blow his whistle. “People are complaining” apparently. Aren’t fans supposed to make noise? Anyway, it hasn’t stopped others from blowing their whistles.
12:15pm: “We want Indian players” musings 3: The BCCI rarely, if ever, talks about its reasons for refusing to release their players for other tournaments. But if commentators are to believed, they are entirely selfish i.e. protecting their own Indian Premier League. One supposed “anonymous source” was quoted by the Indian Express as saying: ““Indian players have a brand name. Indian players playing in the international league will attract Indian viewers. It would also mean that our sponsors, too, want to invest in other leagues. That is why we will not be allowing any Indian players to be part of any such leagues.” The source went on to say that giving Yusuf Pathan the green light to play in the first place was the wrong decision.
12pm: Tee break: HKI United’s George Munsey gave up a promising golf career to focus on cricket. The Oxford-born 24-yar-old plays off a scratch handicap but has found his calling in cricket, representing Scotland in 17 T20 internationals and a single one-dayer. He was quoted as saying: “I had coaches in cricket and golf telling me where my sporting future lay and I just had to get away for five months. It was the right decision as I realised I had a particular passion for team sports and its camaraderie. Cricket suited me better.”
11:21: Misbah fifty: Hong Kong Island United captain Misbah-ul-Haq has yet to get out this tournament. After a splendid 82 on Thursday, the Pakistan captain reached his second half-century in 39 balls. HKI are 141 for six but they need more. This is when Misbah starts to hit.
Update: Misbah true to his word. “Bat through 20 overs and blast away for the last two”. The Pakistani certainly did that as he helped HKI to 177 for seven by scoring 84 not out off 50 balls. Still, given the past two days, has the wear on the pitch lowered the par score? Dwayne Smith was saying on Wednesday that par would be 220 plus while on Thursday, Anshuman Rath reckoned it was 190. Rath, the Gladiators captain, will be confident of chasing but they need a good start.
11:02am: “We want Indian players” musings 2: The owners of Galaxy Gladiators Lantau are the first, today anyway, to wade into the call for BCCI to send Indian players to the Hong Kong Blitz. Suresh Khandelwal, CEO of Galaxy Impex, said: “The BCCI don’t send players because they want to protect the Indian Premier League. But I don’t think the IPL has to fear anyone. There is a big Indian diaspora and Hong Kong is included. If we can get Indian players here it will be a big boost for the tournament and teams will snap them up.”
10:32am: Let it shine: The sun has appeared for the first time in this year’s tournament, or indeed even last year. So, it’s safe to say the sun is shining for the first time ever at the Hong Kong T20 Blitz. There was a smidgen of rain just before start of play and while the clouds remain threatening, things are looking bright now. Pramod said the sun came out briefly yesterday but we don’t believe him.
10:02am: “We want Indian players” musings 1: So the story goes that Kowloon Cantons signed up India’s Yusuf Pathan for the HK T20 Blitz. It was to be a history-making signing because it was the first time India’s BCCI handed an NOC (approval) for one of their contracted players to take part in a T20 tournament that is not the Indian Premier League. No sooner were we all celebrating than the BCCI promptly revoked the NOC. Cantons kept smiling but we know they are seething under those forced grins. Why did the BCCI revoke the NOC? Is the Hong Kong Blitz a rival tournament? Surely not. The Blitz is not like the Big Bash in Australia or Pakistan Super League. Australia and Pakistan have their own local stars. Hong Kong do not have test or world-renown players. It is meant to be a venue for the gathering of such players to be enjoyed by all. So, hopefully next year, the BCCI will open their eyes to what is going on in Hong Kong, an associate member doing great things to promote cricket in the region, and send their players to our tournament. More on this later. Any email comments (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Indian fans welcome.
9:58am: Play starting: Galaxy have won the toss and elected to bowl. Jamie Atkinson and George Munsey to open the batting for HKI United.
9:41: No Bell today: Some team news for Hong Kong Island United. England international Ian Bell will not play today. Bell hurt his foot when given out LBW on Thursday and has been limping ever since. He missed the second innings in his team’s victory over Jaguars. Team officials say he has had a scan and there is no fracture and it is hoped that he is able to play the final two group matches.
7:30am: Welcome to day three of the DTC Hong Kong T20 Blitz, Friday, March 10. It’s been a cracking two days so far and today’s matches, should rain not intervene, will offer a clearer picture of which teams are in the running to make Sunday’s final. Live streaming is due to start at 10am Hong Kong time (0200 GMT), weather-permitting.
Today, we decided to have a theme. And that theme is “We want Indian players” at the Hong Kong Blitz. Hong Kong almost created history by having Yusuf Pathan here but it was not to be as the BCCI revoked his approval (NOC) after initially saying yes. So we shall be pestering people around the ground for their views on why no Indian players are allowed to play in Hong Kong and asking our loyal Indian readers to comment as well. We’re sure Pramod Ananth, in Hong Kong covering the event for Indian website cricketcountry.com, will have something to say about it as well.
To get us in the mood, we have a gem from Sri Lankan Tillakaratne Dilshan from Thursday. The Dilscoop inventor made 38 against Galaxy Gladiators Lantau yesterday but was given a break during his innings when a snick that was heard around the ground and beyond – caught by his fellow Sri Lankan Kumar Sangakarra – went unnoticed by the officials. During his post-match interview, when asked, “Did you snick the ball?”, Dilshan had no hesitation in saying: “Yeah”, with half a big smile, if that is at all possible. Having scored a duck in his previous innings, there was no reason to ask why he didn’t walk. Maybe it was payback because he didn’t feel he should have been given LBW in the first place.