Pakistan's blunders hand Hong Kong Sixes victory to South Africans
Tactical errors in the Hong Kong Sixes final by captain Kamran Akmal sees US$40,000 winners' cheque go to Colin Ingram and his team
South Africa made the most of a tactical blunder by Pakistan to lift the Karp Group Hong Kong Sixes in front of a capacity crowd at Kowloon Cricket Club yesterday.
Pakistan won the toss and put South Africa in to bat, a decision that winning captain Colin Ingram later described as one which was perfect and played up to his side's strengths - the bowling department - as they defended a sizeable total of 142 and won by a hefty 37 runs.
"I didn't think it was a bad thing when we were asked to bat first, and obviously the pressure was on them," said Ingram as South Africa won the tournament for the fourth time.
Victory, and the foundation for a winners' cheque of US$40,000, was laid by the batsmen. Ingram might have credited his bowlers for the sweet victory, but it was the batting which laid down the gauntlet to Pakistan with a huge score of 142 for two even though it was eight-ball overs in the final.
Four of the South African batsmen retired after passing 31, underlining the strength throughout the team who had looked the most professional outfit this past weekend. Openers David Miller and Robbie Frylinck set the pace when they smacked the Pakistani attack to all corners of the ground. Then it was the turn of Dillon du Preez and Ingram. Between the four of them, they smashed 16 sixes as they raced to 107 for no loss off the first three overs.
Pakistan, perhaps, made another blunder here. Having opted to bowl first, they should have used their best bowlers at the start of the innings but instead began with their part-time bowlers, including Umar Akmal and Yasir Shah, who each gave away 39 runs.
Left-arm seamer Junaid Khan, the latest in the production line of bowlers coming from the same mould as that of the legendary Wasim Akram, pulled it back for Pakistan, conceding just 15 runs from his over, and he was followed by Awais Zia, who gave away 20 runs but, significantly, took two wickets, too.
Beaten captain Kamran Akmal said: "We pulled it back a bit at the end but it was still a tough total to chase." He also had his plan worked out, together with younger brother Umar, to get the run-chase off to a fast start, retire once past 31, and to come back later in the innings.
Pakistan's test, one-day and Twenty20 siblings performed the first part of the plan to perfection. The rest of the batting sacrificed themselves on the altar of a sixth Cup title at the Sixes as they went for their shots thinking that even if they got out, the Akmal brothers were there to take them home.
It was not to be the case. The Akmal brothers both returned to the crease with Pakistan still needing 59 off the last two overs. Kamran carried on from where he left off but one ambitious shot too many saw him caught by Lyall Meyer off Frylinck's penultimate delivery at 101 for five.
It left Umar Akmal with a massive burden on his shoulders. He could not quite pull it off, skying the first delivery of the last over from Miller to deep mid off where Ingram stayed cool to pouch the catch and douse the voices of the large contingent of Pakistani fans in the crowd.
"I had wobbly knees, but thankfully I caught it cleanly," said Ingram, who was later picked as Player of the Final.
South Africa had earlier emerged unbeaten from the round-robin Cup competition with wins over Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka and the hosts to book their berth. But hopes of a successful title defence were dashed by Ingram and company.