National players shine in first two rounds of Hong Kong Premier League T20 Tournament

Hong Kong
Hong Kong's Ehsan Khan celebrates a wicket against Bermuda in a practice match of the T20 World Cup Qualifiers in UAE 2019 (Photo: ICC)

The Gencor Hong Kong Premier League T20 Tournament 2021 is underway, ahead of a crucial year of international cricket for the islanders.

Kowloon Cricket Club (Kowloon CC, Hong Kong Cricket Club (HKCC), Pakistan Association of Hong Kong (Pakistan HK), the United Services Recreation Club (United Services), and Diasqua Little Sai Wan Cricket Club (Diasqua LSWCC) are competing in this year’s tournament across five match days.

The competition brings together Hong Kong’s national team players, Under-19 national cricketers, seasoned domestic players and a small number of former professionals, including former county quick Imran Arif and former Namibian Under-19 representative Jason Davidson.

Match day one saw defending champions Kowloon CC open their account against Pakistan HK. Electing to bat first, Kowloon CC slumped to 4-31 in the ninth over, losing Babar Hayat, Aizaz Khan, captain Jamie Atkinson, and Simandeep Singh cheaply, left-armer spinner Anas Khan (1-5 off four) and 17-year old Mohammad Waheed (2-32 off four) doing the damage.

Waqas Barkat (34 off 27 balls) and former Hong Kong international Chris Carter (26 off 20 balls) steadied the ship with a 40-run partnership, but once they fell, Kowloon CC crumbled to finish on 122 all out. Medium pacer Hassan Khan Mohammad, on the fringes of the national side, returned superlative figures of 5-22 off four overs.

Pakistan Association got off to an absolute flyer, reaching the 50-run mark without loss inside the power play. But after Davidson accounted for Hamed Khan (18 off 25 balls), Pakistan Association’s innings folded in spectacular fashion, only two other players reaching double figures.

Manjinder Singh scored almost half of Pakistan Association’s runs, hitting an impressive six 6’s in his innings of 49. Notwithstanding his heroics, Pakistan Association could only muster 101 all out, Ateeq Iqbal the pick of the bowlers with 4-22 off four overs.

In the day’s other match, Diasqua LSWCC beat United Services comfortably by six wickets. A 60-run partnership between Hong Kong internationals Shahid Wasif (44 off 33 balls) and Waqas Khan (18 off 24 balls) helped United Services to a strong position of 88-2 in the 12th over.

Ehsan Khan snared both Wasif and Khan in that very same over, triggering a collapse which saw United Services only manage to put on a further 40 runs, the veteran off-spinner returning enviable figures of 3-6 off four overs.

Hong Kong
Veteran Ehsan Khan bowled a tight spell for Diasqua LSWCC against the United Services Recreation Club (Photo: ICC)

Diasqua were in full control of the chase from ball one, openers Mohammad Ibraheem and Ehsan Iyaz scoring a more than 60 runs in the power play. Iyaz was particularly aggressive, scoring 54 off 31 balls, constituting the only half-century of the day. Captain and all-rounder Ehsan steered his side home with an efficient 30 not out off 39 balls, as Diasqua reached the target score in the final over.

Hong Kong CC avenged last year’s finals loss to Kowloon CC, edging the champions by seven runs on match day two of the Hong Kong Premier League T20 Tournament. Hong Kong CC won the toss and chose to bat, but were soon in trouble. New national skipper Nizakat Khan, Kinchit Shah, and Martin Coetzee all fell to a probing spell of seam bowling from Aizaz Khan inside the power play, and Hong Kong CC never recovered. Not a single batsman crossed twenty runs and a score of 93 seemed very much sub-par.

Not so. Kowloon CC lost wickets early, and regularly thereafter, with only Babar Hayat (28 off 23 balls) scoring anything of significance. 38-year old left arm orthodox spinner Elliot Scrivener was the pick of the bowlers with 2-7 off four overs, and despite a heroic rearguard fight from Ateeq Iqbal and Vikas Sharma, who scored 17 runs in the last seven balls, Kowloon finished on 86/9 in their allotted overs.

United Services turned a corner after their loss on match day one with a comprehensive 68-run victory over Pakistan HK. Shahid Wasif (53 off 49 balls) and Waqas Khan (29 off 24 balls) took United Services to a score of 109-3 in the 15th over, but a flurry of wickets indicated a likely petering out of their innings.

Enter 20-year old Zakir Hayat. The youngster clobbered 41 off 14 balls with six 4s and two 6s, to help United Services scored 37 runs in the last 17 balls and finish on 164-6.

It was score far too steep for Pakistan HK to overcome, as national team leg-spinner Mohammad Ghazanfar (3-13 off 4) and former English county quick Imran Arif (3-16 off 3.2) consigned their opponents to a score of 96 all out.

Match day three takes place on Sunday 19 September.

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