Laughlin, Botha and Wessels Combine to Defeat Defending Champions
By Tim Cutler
Hong Kong’s winter sunshine may just have had the desired effect on the Tin Kwong Road Recreation Ground wicket, drying out the pitch to allow more free scoring games. On a surface that had been described by a number of players as being quite two-paced on days prior, this match saw the two highest HK T20 Blitz partnerships so far this edition.
Despite the worst power play of the Blitz yet of 28 for 2, the Cantons looked set for a total near 200 when skipper Babar Hayat sent the white kookaburras around and out of the ground to race along to a half century in 30 balls. He was poised for the second Blitz century ever by a Hong Kong player until a ball that was set to crash into the front window of the commentary box was plucked out of the air – a superb catch by Johan Botha. Hayat departed for 89 from 52 balls. The Jags’ bowlers dragged it back however and restricted Kowloon to 172/6.
Hayat played some superb shots especially straight over the bowler’s head, showing the same form that recently brought him the player of the tournament award – and with it a new motorcycle as the prize – at the Everest Premier League in Nepal over the holiday period.
He was well supported by Patel who scored 54 from 39 and the two put on 126 which is the highest partnership in Blitz history. No other Kowloon batter made double figures as the Cantons were restricted by two amazing spells from Johan Botha and Ben Laughlin. The off spinner dismissed Dwayne Smith off the first ball of the match and finished with 2 for 25 from his 4 over that included a rare maiden – or what is normally rare. Ben Laughlin also achieved the feat in his 4 overs where he took identical figure to his spell in game one with 2 for 19. Laughlin’s change of pace and the control has been amazing and we saw him tutoring the young Hong Kong quick Kyle Christie on field which can only bode well for his future learning from one of the best.
The Jaguars started fast and continue the pace throughout the chase with the run rate never falling below 9. When the chase was completed in the 15th over the Jaguars were scoring at over two runs a ball. The Kowloon attack did not have any answers to the onslaught, first from Nizakat Khan who smashed 24 from 10 before he was dismissed by Wahab’s first ball LBW. Skipper Kinchit fell shortly after to Patel but from there is was all bright fuchsia as Rikki Wessels and Johan Botha took the Cantons’ attack apart putting on 122 before Botha was caught on the mid wicket boundary by Smith off Ehsan Nawaz.
Wessel continued on his way and finished not out on 91 from 37 taking player of the match honours. The Hung Hom JD Jaguars have really put a marker down there against the fancied defending champions and would now be favourites to continue on and win the third edition of the Hong Kong T20 Blitz!