HONG KONG—The Hong Kong Cricket Sixes, returned after a break of 5-years to see defending champions South Africa edge Pakistan to win the Cup. But it took Captain Aubrey Swanepeol to come to the crease and hit the final ball to the boundary for South Africa to overhaul Pakistan’s run total of 123.
Pakistan batting first lost wickets on a regular basis through their innings. On reaching the score of 93, 5 wickets had fallen and it was left for Sohail Khan to face the rest of the balls.
Sohail, a prolific striker of the ball, pushed the score on to 109, with 8 balls still to be delivered. From 4 of the remaining balls he moved the total to 123. But he was then caught on the boundary going for another big hit, ending the innings, much to the delight of the South African players.
Although not a huge total for five 8-ball overs (40 deliveries) -the potent Pakistan bowling attack was always going to make South Africa’s task difficult.
The South African openers Sarel Erwee and Farhaan Sayanvala struggled against the Pakistan opening attack and Farhaan was caught when the total was 24 bringing Ferisco Adams to the crease. Adams and Erwee getting into their stride, took the total to 63 at which time Erwee retired having scored over the set limit of 33 runs. This brought Jerry Nqolo in to bat but he soon departed with the score at 66, Skipper Aubrey Swaepeol came to take up the fight. Swanepeol and Adams took the score over the century mark, and the team were in an almost identical position to that of Pakistan at 107 with 8 balls left. But Swanepeol retired and Adams was out with the score on 113 bringing Corne Dry and the return of Erwee the first batsman to retire. The match was getting very tight with just a few balls left, but Dry and Erwee moved the score to 120 with just 2 balls remaining and 4 runs needed. This still favored South Africa but Erwee was out with the next ball.
Captain Swanepeol returned to the crease with his team requiring 4 runs off the final ball which he calmly dispatched it to the boundary to win the match.
There were lots of twists and turns on the way Pakistan gave away runs with a number of No Balls and if Khan had managed to see out the last four balls of the Pakistan innings the whole scene might have been different… but this is sport.
South Africa reached the final by beating New Zealand Kiwis in the semi-final (115 to 97) and Pakistan outplayed Australia (115 to 80) in the other Cup semi-final.
In the 3-4 playoff New Zealand Kiwis scored 124 and held Australia down to 118 runs in their 5 overs.
Hong Kong, although not able to remain in the Cup competition after losing matches against the eventual Cup finalists South Africa and Pakistan on Day 1, they played well on Sunday (Day 2), beating New Zealand by 17 runs (104 to 87) in the morning session, then went on to win the Plate semi-final against Sri Lanka by 33 runs (114/1 to 81/4) to progress to the Plate final.
In the Plate final MCC batted first scoring a total of 113 runs which Hong Kong overhauled in 4.2 overs to win the Plate. After an opening partnership with Nizakat Khan and then a good run tally of 52 with Jamie Atkinson, Skipper Babar Hyat was joined by Ehsan Nawaz with the score on 88, and these two took the score to 110, Hyat then hit a 6 to win the match.
It was good to see the return of the Hong Kong Sixes. It was an annual event from 1992 to 2012 except for a 3-year break (1998 to 2000)
It is an event to which cricket lovers and the general public look forward. Spectators were not disappointed: the weather was sunny and dry, there was the opportunity to see top teams performing with exciting action throughout the 2 days of play.