Hong Kong Batter Nizakat Scores 93 In Player of the Match Performance
By Tim Cutler
The JD Jaguars were down a key bowler after an injury to left arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe. After a conference of no fewer than six Jaguars and after a suggestion by Johan Botha the decision was made for skipper Kinchit Shah to bowl the fifteenth over with his off spin. This decision proved to be a masterstroke as he drew a top edge from legendary Kumar Sangakkara, who tried to loft the ball for six over the bowler’s head. He only managed to lob the ball into the huge hands of Daren Sammy at short third man. He finished with 76 from 47 balls. Kinchit’s only over went for three runs for one wicket.
It was the turning point of the final for the 2018 Hong Kong T20 Blitz which saw the Hung Hom JD Jaguars win their first title after defeating Galaxy Gladiators Lantau in the tournament’s third edition.
Nizakat Khan was awarded player of the match after scoring 93 from 52 deliveries. He was well supported by Johan Botha (36 from 22) and Daren Sammy (21 from 15) and despite some quality death bowling from the Gladiators, Hung Hom posted 200 for seven, which was about 25 short of what they should have go considering Nizakat’s start.
Imran Arif (4/49 from four) and Haroon Arshad (2/31) from three were the only wicket takers for the Gladiators.
One starts to run out of superlatives watching Sangakkara’s batting live. He was a little slow out of the blocks, but when he got going he worked the ball around at will and hit some superlative boundaries – some of his straight sixes were the biggest in the tournament.
He was troubled by the pace of Kyle Chrisite at times. Despite not being included in Hong Kong’s squad for the world cup qualifiers next Month in Zimbabwe, Hong Kong born Chiristie’s form bodes well for Hong Kong’s quest to qualify for their third consecutive World Twenty20. Qualifiers will likely get underway late next year for the 2020 event to be held in Australia.
Balal Muhummad got his second decent score of the tournament with 33 and when Sanga and Anton Devcich were batting the total was very much in sight.
The Jaguars were without the bowling of Roelof van der Merwe who aggravated a groin strain when batting so they needed to find an extra four overs from their all-rounders including Daren Sammy.
It was the skipper, Kinchit Shah himself who provided the match’s turning point. He brought himself on to bowl at a crucial time and made the huge breakthrough, dismissing Sangakkara for 76 from 47 balls.
The Jaguars showed strategic intent taking the second over of the match for 14, bowled by Dan Pascoe. Despite losing Kinchit Shah in the process, Hung Hom reached 60 from their powerplay.
Nizakat Khan found the free form that had eluded him earlier in the tournament playing his trademark drives over point and through the cover region using his whippy wrists. He was also quick to punish anything short into the leg side and brought up his half century from 24 balls.
Rikki Wessels came and went quickly and when the in-form Botha arrived at the crease, the run rate stayed above nine with both Jags batters keeping the score ticking along with great running between the wickets and crisp ball striking.
This all changed with the final two balls of the 15th over. Nizakat had hit a four and a massive six back over Imran Arif’s head moving to 93, he struck a towering blow toward the straight boundary again. Cameron Delport seemed to lose it in the slightly overcast sky but stuck his right hand over and behind his head and took a scintillating snare to dismiss Nizakat who was looking to score his second Blitz century.
Next ball, Johan Botha edged behind to Sangakkara trying to deflect it fine of third man.
The next batters to the crease were Daren Sammy and Roelof van der Merwe, both well know for their hitting. Van der Merwe still looking to be suffering the effects of a groin strain sustained during the tournament and went for nine off seven after miscuing a swipe over the offside and was caught by Moner Dar running in from the cover boundary giving Arif three in four balls – and his four wicket, taking him to the top of Blitz wicket takers The 43 year old launched the ball into the air, reminiscent of the moment when he caught Bangladesh skipper Mushifiqur Rahim during Hong Kong’s biggest win ever against the hosts in the World Twenty20.
Jade Dernbach bowled a tight penultimate over that went for only seven and when Haroon’s twentieth over only netted eleven for Hung Hom they finished on 200. After the start from Nizakat Khan, and the batting talent in the Jags’ lineup, this felt 20 or so short of what I think would’ve been the minimum total they wanted.
Sangakkara was well supported by Balal again getting the Gladiators off to a very good start with 50 for none from the powerplay. After seemingly injuring his hamstring Bilal went on the attack – and when Sangakkara got his fifty from 31 balls – Lantau was 88 early in the ninth over.
When Roelof van der Merwe went off for treatment to his groin the Jaguars made the bizarre decision to send fourteen-year-old squad member Aarush Bhagwat rather than Scott McKechnie one of the better fielders in Hong Kong, out to sub-field. The flawed logic of this decision was exposed when the very next ball was swept towards him at short fine leg at pace and went through the young player’s legs for a boundary. He was promptly replaced, and Scott took the field for the remaining overs.
Balal was finally dismissed for an even time 33, stumped off Botha with the score on 101. Cameron Delport came in and smashed his second ball for a maximum. His fourth was hit in the air into the hands of Ben Laughlin off Tanveer Ahmed – his first spell of the tournament.
Botha has a close LBW shout on Sangakkara turned down in his last over by visiting umpire Australian Mick Martell, and his final ball was cut for four between the two backward points fielders to finish with 1 for 34.
After Sangakkara fell off Kinchit, Jade Dernbach was sent in as a pinch hitter, a ploy that failed again, with him falling for one from four balls.
It then fell to the shoulders of kiwi pair Anton Devcich and James Franklin. Anton Devcich skied a heave from Kyle Christie – but the catch was dropped by wicketkeeper Wessels.
Luckily this didn’t matter in the end as Franklin’s last over, the nineteeth, only went for nine – leaving 23 required off the last.
Daren Sammy did the needful, closing the game out bowling to the two swashbuckling New Zealand left handers going 1,0,1,6,1,6, winning by six runs.