Kowloon Cantons overcome gruelling schedule to reach Hong Kong T20 Blitz final
Babar Hayat’s team play three matches in 24 hours, winning their last two with City Kaitak also victorious
Kowloon Cantons endured a gruelling three matches in 24 hours, winning two of them, to reach the final of the DTC Hong Kong T20 Blitz on Saturday at Mission Road.
Cantons had a punishing schedule, losing to Hung Hom JD Jaguars on Friday evening before returning at 7.45am on Saturday for the first of two emphatic victories.
After beating Hong Kong Island United by 44 runs, they completed their round-robin programme with a thumping 64-run win over Galaxy Gladiators Lantau – now out of the tournament – with captain Babar Hayat smashing 62.
They have six points from four matches, ensuring a place in the final.
“It wasn’t easy playing two T20 matches in a day but we were up for it and if you are fit enough it can be done,” said Hayat, also the Hong Kong senior captain. “We are happy to be in the final, we knew we had to bounce back after losing on Friday but we knew we had the players to do it.”
Reaching the final is a major achievement for Cantons who suffered a number of setbacks in the lead-up to the tournament, losing key players such as Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi and English fast bowler Tymal Mills.
They will play one of three teams in the final – City Kaitak, Jaguars or HKI United. Kaitak, with four points, are the favourites and face HKI United in the final group match on Sunday morning. United are on two points from three games and need a big win to overhaul Kaitak in second place.
Jaguars have played their four matches for two victories and can only stand by and hope for a United victory.
In their first match on Saturday, Cantons scored a reachable 168 for seven before bowling out Misbah-ul-Haq’s HKI United for 124 in 19 overs for a 44-run victory.
Misbah, who had scored 82 and 84 in his previous two innings, only managed six this time as he was dismissed for the first time in the Blitz.
In their second match, Hayat and Scotland’s Calum MacLeod, with 62 not out, helped Cantons to the highest total of the tournament so far, 220 for three after Dwayne Smith had clobbered 38 off 14 balls.
They then bowled Gladiators out for 156 in 19.1 overs to win by 64 runs.
In between, Kaitak scored a five-wicket win over Jaguars, for whom Hong Kong player Nizakat Khan scored 120 off 62 balls – the second century of the tournament.
Nizakat’s knock helped Jaguars reach 193 for four but Kyle Coetzer, with 58, Tillakaratne Dilshan (29), Waqas Barakat (32), Nicholas Pooran (48 in 19 balls) and Chris Jordan (21) powered Kaitak across the line with 17 balls remaining.
“Nicholas Pooran is the player of the future,” said Kaitak team manager Rajnish Kapur. “We were always confident. No score is a high score on this ground and we were confident we could reach the target.
“Hopefully we can win our last game and reach the final.”
Nizakat once again caught the eye, just like he did in December when he scored a century for Hong Kong against Australian Big Bash League side Sydney Thunder.
“It’s really disappointing to lose after scoring a hundred but we played well to be honest. It just wasn’t our day,” said Nizakat.