Hard-hitting Ahmed stakes claim for HK Sixes call-up

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 October, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 October, 2001, 12:00am

If any one player deserves to be picked on merit after yesterday's round of Sunday League matches for the SAR team to play in next month's Hong Kong Sixes, then that person should be KCC Templars' all-rounder Aftab Ahmed.

Hong Kong chairman of selectors Mike Walsh revealed yesterday that one spot was still undecided in the seven-strong squad that will be named today. Well, Ahmed certainly displayed the right credentials as he hit a superb unbeaten 51 off just 28 balls to lift Templars to a handsome total of 283 for six against Vagabonds. His half-century, which came in 27 deliveries, was one of the fastest this season. It included six sixes and two fours, Many of the hits over the rope were huge, easily clearing the long boundaries at Mission Road. The power-hitting would be ideal for the eight-team Sixes.

True, the bowling will obviously be of a higher class than what Ahmed faced yesterday. But his ability to strike the ball from the very first delivery he faces is just what the doctor ordered for the Sixes, where teams face only five overs. There is no time to finesse runs. What is needed is the bludgeon and Ahmed carries one.

It helped Templars score a 119-run vicrtory over Vagabonds. Templars did not seem to have enough runs on the board until Ahmed walked into bat. At 216 for six in the 46th over, there was a feeling that Templars would be left defending a modest total.

But the burly right-hander had other ideas. Together with Vijay Karnani, he put on 67 runs in the remaining 27 balls to turn the target from modest to gargantuan. Such was the power of Ahmed that two of his sixes coming off the edge of his bat, flew over third man and long leg. Watching his punchy innings were the two selectors who are in Hong Kong - Walsh and Bob Fotheringham, who were also the umpires on duty yesterday. The third selector, Jim Middleton, is away on business in the wilds of Africa.

'One place is up for grabs. We have picked six players but are still undecided on the last spot,' said Walsh in-between innings. There was nothing more that caught the eye during the Vagabonds innings.

Even their much-vaunted all-rounder Hussain Butt, who is being tipped by some sections to win a Sixes berth, could not replicate the hard-hitting style of Ahmed.

Butt was dismissed for 57, one of five victims snared by the wily Rahul Sharma. And at 144 for six in the 34th over, the end was nigh for Vagabonds. And so it proved as the innings folded for 164 in the 43rd over.

The platform for victory was initially laid by T.R. Kalyanraman and Sharma. The pair figured in a 122-run partnership for the third wicket before Kalyanraman was dismissed eight runs short of what would have been a well deserved century. It seems the stylish left-hander is not destined to score a ton in the local Sunday League, this being the third time he has been dismissed in the nervous 90s in his three seasons here. Sharma scored 53 and it seemed the innings would taper off. But Ahmed had other ideas.

The win left Templars as the only unbeaten side in the League after leaders HKCC Scorpions were beaten in a thriller by KCC Infidels who, defending a total of 268, won by three runs.

The Infidels total was built around Mark Eames, who scored 124 with his century coming off 93 deliveries. Ravi Sujanani chipped in with 47 as Infidels were bowled out in the last over.

In-form Scorpions openers Tim Smart and David Mallinson led the run chase. Smart hit a sparkling 84 while Mallinson scored 40. Bharat Gohel sparked a mini-collapse grabbing the wickets of Mallinson, Ian Hodgson and W. Ganesh while Sujanani claimed Adam Smith.

Martin Lever then revived the Scorpions' challenge with a well-compiled 50, but the chase finally depended on tail-enders Gavin Erasmus and Gopal Lalchandani who was run out in the last over with Scorpions three runs adrift.

Meanwhile, Ayaz Shah hit an unbeaten 108 to see Little Sai Wan overhaul KCC Colts total of 179 with nine wickets in hand.