Hong Kong Cricket Sixes

Non-stop action, perfect weather and a climactic ending as South Africa defeat Pakistan again in Sixes final

Just like they did in 2012, Proteas lifts the trophy after they pip the tournament favourites on the last ball in a fitting end to a smashing event

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 October, 2017, 7:36pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 October, 2017, 10:44pm

Five years ago, South Africa and Pakistan met in what many thought would be the last-ever Hong Kong Sixes final. So, it was only fitting that the resurrection of the world-famous tournament would feature the same two teams in the title match.

South Africa once again prevailed in the 2017 revival at Kowloon Cricket Club, but not before both teams put on a heart-stopping show that went down to the very last ball. Captain Aubrey Swanepoel fulfilled a childhood dream when he hit a boundary off the final ball from Sohail Khan to win the title for his team.

Pakistan had looked unbeatable on the way to the final, having won all their three games on Saturday and thrashing Australia by 35 runs in the semi-finals.

Make some noise as the Sixes packs a wallop on its return

But if there was one team good enough to challenge the Pakistanis, it was South Africa and indeed, the Proteas, ensured that fans in the almost-full stands were able to enjoy a thriller that helped to enhance the status of the tournament.

The final was played over five eight-ball overs and after Pakistan had scored 123 all out in their innings, South Africa measured their chase to perfection as Swanepoel produced the finishing touch with a majestic straight drive that bounced over the boundary.

But the skipper had his arms raised even before the orange ball hit the ground as South Africa won by two wickets.

I never thought the Hong Kong Sixes would return, says Pakistan captain Sohail Tanvir

“I just told myself to make contact with the ball and keep my head down and I did it,” said Swanepoel, who after the final threw his shirt to a deaf fan in the clubhouse whom he had met at the 2011 tournament.

“As a cricketer this is what you dream of, in a tournament like this, hitting the winning runs. I’m really thankful to my team for supporting me in the decisions that we made. We are a young team and we have a really good environment and if it wasn’t for the guys, we wouldn’t be in this position.

“We are delighted with the win and looking forward to returning next year,” said Swanepoel, whose team beat New Zealand Kiwis by 18 runs in the semi-finals.

Pakistan captain Sohail Tanvir said his worst fears were realised in the final after his team’s juggernaut-like march.

“I was a bit scared because we had won all our matches and you’re always wondering when it is that we are going to lose, and it happened to be in the final,” said Sohail, who was part of Pakistan’s victorious 2011 team.

“I take a lot of the blame. I didn’t get out in all my matches except the final, when I was out first ball. If I had stayed it may have been different.

“But the two best teams reached the final and we took it to the last ball, the crowd enjoyed it so I think it was a successful event for Hong Kong.”

Hosts Hong Kong had a triumphant tournament by winning the Plate title, beating Marylebone Cricket Club in the final. In addition, batsman Nizakat Khan was named player of the tournament for hitting the most runs – 192, with an incredible 25 sixes and eight fours.

Hong Kong World Sixes day two – as it happened

“We were outstanding with the ball and the bat, which was pleasing, and that was why we were able to win the Plate,” said Hong Kong captain Babar Hayat. “We hadn’t play sixes for a very long time so it was always going to be tough but once you get going, you can always get some momentum going, which helped. It is a pleasing thing to play in front of a home crowd, with people cheering for you, supporting you. I hope we can play the sixes every year.”