Hong Kong CC claimed the Gencor Hong Kong Men’s Premier League T20 tournament with a six-wicket win over Kowloon CC, courtesy of a superlative all-round performance from Kinchit Shah.
Shah took three wickets and scored a fluent half-century, as the islanders chased down 170 with six wickets in hand in the Final.
The win avenges Hong Kong CC’s loss to the same opponent in last year’s final, Shah and his young charges also triumphing over a side laden with national team veterans, and seasoned expats.
Hong Kong CC won the toss and elected to field first on a cloudy and humid Friday. Kowloon CC got off to a flyer, Haroon Arshad and U-19 representative, Ayush Shukla, failing to trouble Babar Hayat (33 off 22 balls) and Aizaz Khan (33 off 23 balls) in the powerplay.
Young wicket-keeper Adit Gorawara had Hayat stumped off the medium pace of former Durham MCCU representative Charlie Wallis. Shah then accounted for Aizaz and Mohammad Khan in a double-wicket ninth over to stem the flow of runs and, with them, expectations of a 200 plus total.
Simandeep Singh (31 off 27 balls), and captain Jamie Atkinson (25 off 20 balls) steadied the ship with a tidy partnership of 26, and Waqas Barkat scored an explosive 27 off 15 balls to help Kowloon CC accelerate towards the end, Shah the pick of the bowlers with 3-22 off four overs.
With the tournament’s top two wicket-takers in Jason Davidson and Aizaz Khan in their ranks, and the experienced left arm orthodox spinner, Daniel Pascoe also returning, Kowloon CC would have fancied their chances of defending 170.
The loss of Martin Coetzee in the first over aside, Kowloon CC found the going tough against Hong Kong CC’s batters, all of whom got starts and struck at over a run-a-ball.
Shah, coming in at three, negotiated the new-ball threat of Davidson and Khan, and then shepherded Hong Kong CC past the hundred mark in the 11th over.
Yet when Shah fell for 58 at a strike rate of 170.58, Hong Kong CC still required 60 off eight overs with 19-year old Adit Gorawara and 22-year old Haroon Arshad at the crease.
As it turned out, the pair batted skilfully and without pressure, scoring 35 not out a piece, and hitting six boundaries and four maximums between them, as Hong Kong CC romped home with eight balls to spare.
Davidson was typically frugal, returning figures of 1-18 off 4 overs, Aizaz Khan (0-40 off four overs) and Daniel Pascoe (0-53 off four overs) conceding more than half the total between them without taking a wicket.
The Final capped off a competitive tournament, generating balanced contest between bat and ball, despite the small size of Hong Kong’s grounds.
Matching Davidson’s dominance with the ball, Babar Hayat finished as the tournament’s top scorer with 203 runs at an average of 50.75, a strike rate of the 152.62, and 22 maximums, affirming his place as one of Hong Kong’s best batters.
Only Nizakat Khan came anywhere close to matching Hayat’s combination of explosive consistency, hitting 193 runs at an average of 47.75, a strike rate of 124.83, and 15 maximums.
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