Moner Dar - his coach from his club in HK - holds Haroon aloft after he successfully bowled the last over | Galaxy Gladiators Lantau vs Hung Hom JD Jaguars during Match day 4 of Hong Kong T20 Blitz 2018 at Tin Kwong Road Recreation Ground, Kowloon,, Hong Kong, on 9 February 2018, Hong Kong SAR, China. Photo by : Ike Li / Ike Images

Lantau Emerge As Dark Horses After Breaking Hung Hom’s Unbeaten Run

 by Tim Cutler.

In the best game of the tournament thus far a quality all round performance has seen Lantau continued their phoenix like rise. After propping up the Blitz table for the first two tournaments the Gladiators beat the high-flying Jaguars in the morning game of day four.

GGL posted a mammoth total of 228 for 7 from their twenty overs, setting a record for the highest Blitz score yet. On the back of an amazing innings by Roelof van der Merwe the Jags almost chased the total down.

Roelof van der Merwe | Galaxy Gladiators Lantau vs Hung Hom JD Jaguars during Match day 4 of Hong Kong T20 Blitz 2018 at Tin Kwong Road Recreation Ground, Kowloon,, Hong Kong, on 9 February 2018, Hong Kong SAR, China. Photo by : Ike Li / Ike Images

It all came down to the last over with Hung Hom requiring 15 off it. Van der Merwe was on strike on 75 from 32 and things looked ominous for Lantau. Skipper Sangakkara still had two overs from James Franklin and firs class experienced spinner Dan Pascoe. Somewhat surprisingly Kumar threw the ball to his 18 yard right arm seamer, Haroon Arshad Mohammed. 40 runs had come from his three overs but one of the great players in cricket history saw something in the young Diasqua Little Sai Wan CC seamer.

The first ball of the last over was a wide but the second ball deceived van der Merwe just enough for him to sky it and was pouched safely by the gloves of the captain. When Scott McKechnie fell off the next ball a miracle was needed – and despite a boundary to Nadeem Ahmed, the Gladiators prevailed by six in a thriller. Haroon finished with 4/48 from his spell.

Imran Arif was also particularly impressive going for 28 of his 4 taking the key wicket of Sammy for 33. He bowled the nineteenth over which went for 12 plus a bye, which in the context of the game was a great over.

Earlier on, Kumar Sangakkara was the backbone of the Lantau innings with 92 from 42 balls, his first T20 century still eluding him. During the powerplay however he played second fiddle to fellow opener Balal Muhammad who played some enterprising shots taking the Gladiators to 67 from their first six. He eventually fell for 44 from 30 with Ben Laughlin again showing his class in bowling the Pakistan Association CC batter who’s just a few days short of his 24th birthday.

Bilal poised to go over the bowler’s head | Galaxy Gladiators Lantau vs Hung Hom JD Jaguars during Match day 4 of Hong Kong T20 Blitz 2018 at Tin Kwong Road Recreation Ground, Kowloon,, Hong Kong, on 9 February 2018, Hong Kong SAR, China. Photo by : Ike Li / Ike Images

The Jaguars skipper may rue the decision to bowl his own off spin to the left handers rather than the established orthodox spin of van der Merwe or Nadeem. Whilst that decision had merit on paper, the skill of the two orthodox bowlers, who collectively finished with five overs left may have been the better option. Cricket is always an easy game in retrospect!

Kumar Sangakkar on the attack as McKechnie has a keen eye on the ball | Galaxy Gladiators Lantau vs Hung Hom JD Jaguars during Match day 4 of Hong Kong T20 Blitz 2018 at Tin Kwong Road Recreation Ground, Kowloon,, Hong Kong, on 9 February 2018, Hong Kong SAR, China. Photo by : Ike Li / Ike Images

Even though Delport and pinch hitter Dernbach came and went cheaply, yesterday’s GGL hero Anton Devcich was not out at the end of the innings clobbering 56 from 27 deliveries.

One point that was mentioned was that despite the commentators mentioning this would have been Sangakkara’s first T20 century – it would not have counted on his record as a result of the tournament not having full T20 status. Considering the fact that the field has ICC ODI/T20I accreditation, the quality of players and that it is run under full ODI/T20I conditions/measures (including having two ICC anti-corruption officials on site) one must wonder what needs to happen for the ICC to change their mind on providing T20 status to countries that don’t have FM status nor first class competitions.

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