DEFENDING champions Pakistan did it the hard way last year - and are taking a similarly rough route at the Hong Kong Sixes this time around. Pakistan, who won last year's inaugural tournament, despite suffering a shock preliminary defeat to hosts Hong Kong, once again find themselves having to fight through a second series of matches to reach the semi-finals at Cox's Road. Although revenge was swift and convincing against Hong Kong in the Red Group, it was last year's Plate winners Sri Lanka, who provided the body blow with a 19-run victory over the Pakistanis yesterday. While group winners Sri Lanka go straight into the semi-finals with South Africa and England, Pakistan take on Australia and New Zealand in a Cup eliminator round-robin competition. Pakistan vice-captain and key pace bowler Waqar Younis has no doubt about his side's ability and is confident of winning the eliminator to set up a repeat match against Sri Lanka in the semi-finals. ''As we have seen in this tournament, anything can happen,'' said Waqar. ''We are not entirely used to this game and the two matches helped us. Last year, we came from behind to win it, and I think we can do it again this year.'' Waqar, who conceded the winning runs that saw Pakistan fall to Hong Kong last year, was especially miserly this time, giving away only five runs in his over. But he said revenge was never a factor. ''It's nothing like that,'' he said. ''Cricket is a friendly game, I believe. Last year, Hong Kong played very well and deserved to win. This time, we played well and it was our turn to win.'' Pakistan, however, are not going to have it all their way if New Zealand's chunky batsman Rod Latham has a say in matters. Latham was unbeaten at the crease yesterday, scoring 27 runs in New Zealand's six-wicket loss to South Africa and 36 in their four-wicket win over the West Indies. The Kiwis start a fresh bid to reach the semi-final against their trans-Tasman rivals Australia in the opening match of the second day. For Hong Kong captain Pat Fordham, last year's heroics seemed a distant memory, especially after a 66-run thrashing at the hands of Sri Lanka. ''They are three inches above us,'' said Fordham. ''It was just an honour to be competing with them on the same pitch. ''Against Pakistan, it did feel like they were out for revenge. Wasim was not bowling his best, but the rest went flat out.'' And he knows there is still much work to do as Hong Kong take on West Indies and India in the Plate competition. ''It's going to be very tough. I don't think either of them expected to be playing in the Plate competition.'' Fordham put Sri Lanka into bat, but his bowlers could do nothing to stem a rampant attack led by Sanath Jayasuria, Aravinda de Silva and Arjuna Ranatunga. All three scored more than 30 runs as Sri Lanka amassed a massive 110 for one off five overs. Hong Kong lost five wickets in making 44, Leigh Beaman top-scoring for Hong Kong with 14. Electing to bat, Hong Kong went only one run better against Pakistan in reaching 45 for three. In replay, Inzaman Ul-Haq went for 23 after being caught by Steve Foster off Stewart Brew's bowling. But skipper Wasim Akram, with 20, and Javed Miandad, who made three, saw Pakistan safely through.