Watch out for local players, says Kumar Sangakkara after Hong Kong T20 Blitz victory
Galaxy Gladiators Lantau defeat Hong Kong Island United while Hung Hom JD Jaguars overcome Kowloon Cantons
Sri Lanka great Kumar Sangakkara believes the quality of Hong Kong players will be a key factor in deciding who wins the Hong Kong T20 Blitz after his team picked up their first victory of the tournament on Thursday.
Sangakkara scored 35 runs as Galaxy Gladiators Lantau beat winless Hong Kong Island United by eight wickets to revive their title hopes.
In an earlier match, Hung Hom JD Jaguars beat defending champions Kowloon Cantons by six wickets with an impressive batting performance. It was a repeat of the 2017 event, when Jaguars also beat Cantons who then went on to win the final as Hung Hom finished third.
Sangakkara said the local players could make the difference as Gladiators take on favourites Jaguars on their next match.
“In T20 tournaments like these, what a lot of people forget is the local players,” said Sangakkara. “There’s six in each team and, you can talk about the overseas players but the local guys are also important.
“I saw the way the two [Hong Kong] boys [Babar Hayat and Ahsan Abbasi] batted and they could make the difference.”
Gladiators have one victory from two matches along with Cantons and City Kaitak while Jaguars lead the table with two wins from two. Gladiators now back up against Jaguars in the first match of Friday’s schedule with Cantons taking on Kaitak.
In their loss to Cantons on Wednesday, Gladiators failed to chase 159. And they faced the exact same target against United but this time they were much more composed in their pursuit with measured explosiveness ensuring they were never in trouble.
Man of the match Anton Devcich hit an unbeaten 43 to complement Cameron Delport’s 70 not out, having earlier taken three wickets for 28 runs off four overs during United’s innings.
Delport faced 43 balls and smashed five sixes and six fours in his innings.
United were five wickets down for 28 runs in the seventh over but staged a good comeback with Abbasi scoring 45 off 42 balls and Zeeshan Ali hammering 56 to ensure Gladiators would have to work to win the match.
United coach Charlie Burke blamed “irresponsible” batting for their defeat but is hopeful of winning their last two matches against Jaguars and Cantons.
“We lost wickets in the powerplay and you can’t be three or four wickets down in the powerplay, so we were always going to be coming up short,” said Burke.
“With the ball we had a few chances but missed some and with only 160 on the board you can’t afford to do that.”
The bowling highlight for United was 2.16m Mohammad Irfan’s four overs, which cost only 16 runs and yielded one wicket.
Hong Kong captain Babar Hayat hit 89 for Cantons and Samit Patel scored 54 in what appeared to be a challenging total of 172 for six. However, Jaguars made it look easy as they reached their target in only 14.2 overs, with Riki Wessels hammering 91 runs off 37 deliveries to win man of the match honours.
Wessels plundered seven sixes and eight fours to stay unbeaten after 37 balls and he was supported by Johan Botha, who hit 44.
Despite the loss, Cantons CEO Urvashi Sodhi-Sethi was confident of moving into the final. “It’s a good omen,” she said, referring to the fact that they also lost to Jaguars last year before going on to win the tournament.