Croft inspires England to HK Sixes triumph
England 86 for 0 (Croft 31*, Ali 31*, Maynard 20*, Nazir 0-9) v Pakistan 65 for 4 (Nazir 27, Latif 24, Croft 2-4)
Robert Croft gave David Graveney, the chairman of selectors, who was watching on from the sidelines, a timely reminder of his allround talents with a matchwinning performance in the final against Pakistan. With the bat he set off like a train, hammering 31 runs from 14 balls to give England a lightening start, but it was with the ball that he clinched the game. Brought into the attack with Imran Nazir in full song and Pakistan racing home on 35 without loss after two overs, Croft lulled Nazir into a false shot and then sprinted 50 yards to take a diving catch at full stretch. Two balls later Abdul Razzaq was caught on the boundary edge by Dougie Brown on tiptoes. He finished with 2 for 4 and left Pakistan on the ropes.
Pakistan were thrown further out of kilter by a bizarre four-run penalty when Razzaq and Moin Khan failed to cross on the field. Despite complaints from the Pakistani's, the umpires stood firm and Pakistan were left needing to score 52 from the last 12 balls. England, cheered on by most of Hong Kong and all of India, duly sealed their triumph, hugged like they had won the World Cup and embarked on a victory lap. Croft was rightly adjudged man of the final - he could also have been adjudged man of the tournament for his 5 wickets and 125 runs but that award went to Saman Jayantha for his 152 runs and 3 wickets - but England's was a team performance: Kabir Ali was revelation with the bat; Darren Maddy nerveless with the ball; Dougie Brown scored 96 priceless runs without being dismissed and clung onto crucial catches; Chris Silverwood and Glen Chapple both threatened with the ball and Matthew Maynard's leadership was always assured. They fully deserved their USD$80,000 winners cheque.
England 104 for 1 (Croft 36*, Ali 31*, Brown 28*) v Sri Lanka 99 for 1 (Jayantha 33*, Palliyaguru 32*, Jayasinghe 21*)
With dishes of eggs and bacon still being served up in the Kowloon Cricket Club, a heavy dew still sitting on the carpet-like outfield, England clinched a place in the semi-finals with a powerful batting display in the day's opening match. Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to field first, a decision that suited the English perfectly: they now needed to score a minimum of 82 and win the match to edge out South Africa. They started slowly, Ruchira Palliyaguru bowling a tight first over, but Robert Croft exploded in the second, hitting inside-out to take 25 from Chamila Gamage. Kabir Ali (31 retired) and Dougie Brown (28 not out), after the retirement of Croft and Ali, joined the assault as Sri Lanka lost control. Saman Jayantha conceded a crucial 28 runs in the final over, bowling a no ball and wide - a cardinal sin in this form of the game. Sri Lanka made a spirited reply, despite the early loss of Indika de Saram, their hero yesterday, but eventually fell five runs short. Jayanatha nearly made up for his expensive last over, smearing 33 from nine balls, and Palliyaguru (32 retired) kept Sri Lanka in the hunt until the final over. However, Darren Maddy, England's last over specialist now, bowled barrel straight and Sri Lanka, needing 23, failed to find the boundary frequently enough.
Hong Kong 60 for 3 (Eames 32, Mahmood 1-9, Razzaq 1-8) v Pakistan 61 for 1 (Mahmood 24*)
The tournament favorites, Pakistan, confirmed their place in the cup competition in the last match of the group stages, cruising to a comfortable four-wicket with with nine balls to spare against the hosts. Hong Kong, missing Dermot Reeve who has pulled out with a stomach injury, struggled once more with the bat. Azhar Mahmood and Abdul Razzaq bowled tightly, as Hong Kong cobbled together 60 in their five overs, Mark Eames top scoring with 32. The result was never in doubt and Pakistan soon sprinted home, booking a place in the semi-finals with Sri Lanka later in the day.
First Plate Semi-Final
South Africa 89 for 5 (Dros 54, Eagleson 3-9) v Hong Kong 52 for 1 (Eagleson 25*)
South Africa took out their frustation at being knocked out of the cup by England by hammering Hong Kong in the first semi-final. The hosts, suffering their fourth straight loss, were never in the chase as Gerald Dros cracked the first fifty of the weekend, 14-ball 54 that included three fours and six sixes. Ryan Eagleson bowled a golden over, claming three wickets, which prevented South Africa from passing 100 but Hong Kong's batsmen were never in the hunt.
First Cup Semi-Final
New Zealand 86 for 1 (Sinclair 31*, Adams* 36, Croft 1-14, Glen Chapple 0-12) v England 87 for 1 (Ali 35*, Adams 1-12)
England qualified for the final, ending New Zealand's unbeaten run in the first semi-final. Energetic seam bowling, especially from Kabir Ali and Glen Chapple, combined with a tight over of spin from Robert Croft, restricted New Zealand's batsmen. Matthew Sinclair wasted no time, clubbing 31 from nine balls, but Matthew Horne, his fellow opener, wasted five precious balls for his six runs. It took a late spurt from Andre Adams - 36 from 10 balls - as 24 runs were taken off the last over to lift New Zealand to a respectable total. England though paced their chase perfectly. Only 13 runs were taken from the first over bowled by Adams, but Joseph Yovich had a nightmare, bowling two waist-high no balls and a wide to concede 27. England maintained their momentum in the next two overs, as Ali cracked 35 from 11 balls. Nine were required from the last over and Horne's gentle medium pace was easily picked off as England won with three balls to spare.
Second Plate Semi-Final
Kenya 73 for 3 (Odumbe 26*, Chopra 0-7, S. Bahutule 1-9) v India 74 for 1 (Kambli 34*, Shah 1-6)
Vinod Kambli, the forgotten man of Indian cricket, grabbed the limelight as India overpowered Kenya in the second semi-final of the plate tournament. Kambli, cheered on by India's fans, climbed into Kenyans bowling, hitting three sixes and three fours as he raced to 34 from 10 balls. His cameo carried India past Kenyan's 73-run target with two balls to spare. Ravindu Shah had briefly put the Indians under pressure, dismissing Nikhil Chopra and conceding just six runs in the third over, but Steve Tikolo's off-breaks were then pummelled for 22. Martin Suji, playing his first match, started well with two byes but two fours later India were in the final with South Africa.
Second Cup Semi-Final
Pakistan 86 for 4 (Latif 28, Razzaq 23) v Sri Lanka 64 for 4 (Jayantha 29, Razzaq 2-3, Nazir 2-9)
Imran Nazir and Abdul Razzaq inspired a dramatic Sri Lankan batting collapse, pulling Pakistan back from the brink of defeat and into the final of the Hong Kong Sixes. Pakistan, the defending champions, looked dead and buried as Sri Lanka raced to 42 off two overs chasing a moderate 87 for victory. But Nazir, the supposed weak-link in the attack, made up for his lack of runs in the tournament, claiming 2 for 9 in the third over. Razzaq, pumped up and charging in from his long run, sealed Sri Lanka's fate with a brilliant penultimate over, taking two more wickets and conceding just three runs. Sri Lanka, having lost four wickets for six runs in just eight deliveries, were left needing 33 from the last over. Pakistan will now face England in the final. Earlier, Sri Lanka's bowlers, so wayward against England, bowled straighter this time. Nazir gave them an ideal start, carving his first ball to extra cover, but Naveed Latif struck 28 from nine balls. Chinthaka Jayasinghe, his leg-side fielders well-positioned, bowled an important penultimate over that cost 17 runs, holding Azhar Mahmood and Razzaq in check. Saman Jayantha was flayed for three sixes in the final over but two wickets - Razzaq was run out and Moin Khan clean bowled - left Sri Lanka with the initiative at the innings break.
Third Place Plate Play-off
Kenya 63 all out (Odumbe 16) v Hong Kong 61 for 3 (Jamshaid 24*, Aamer 21, Odoyo 1-3)
Kenya's unmemorable first tour to Hong Kong ended with a win, a victory that saved the World Cup semi-finalists the ignominy of the wooden spoon. That belonged to Hong Kong, who had started the tournament with hopes of a first-ever place in the cup competition but ended without a single victory. The third place play-off turned out to be a low-scoring dogfight, Kenya crawling to 61 for 3. Hong Kong should have won easily but put themselves under pressure after two low-scoring opening overs - Thomas Odoyo and Maurice Odumbe conceding just 11 from the first 12 balls. The hosts were left needing 18 from the final over - they managed just 14.
Third Place Cup Play-off
New Zealand 84 for 4 (Barnes 39*, Liyanage 2-3) v Sri Lanka 55 for 1 (Jayantha 35*, Horne 1-2)
New Zealand claimed third place in a light-hearted cup play-off, beating a lacklustre Sri Lanka side still ruing their calamitous semi-final collapse. Aaron Barnes, New Zealand's sub for most of the tournament, turned around the match, smashing 39 from 10 balls including three sixes off the last three balls of the innings. At one stage New Zealand were wobbling on 35 for 4 after Dulip Liyanage, Sri Lanka's captain, took 2 for 3 in the third over of the innings. Sri Lanka's run chase never got off the ground. Saman Jayantha, the top scorer, laboured for his 35 and Matt Horne sealed the match with 1 for 2 in the third over.
India 57 all out (Chopra 19, Dros 3-11, Ontong 1-5) v South Africa 58 for 0 ()
Gerald Dros missed a hat-trick because of a no ball but still claimed 3 for 11 to scupper India's chances of carrying away some silverware. After a bright start, which saw them race to 25 from the first 8 balls, India collapsed in a heap, sliding from 25 without loss to 28 for 3 as Dross took the wickets of Nikhil Chopra, Vinod Kambli and Ritender Sodhi. They never recovered. When Justin Ontong followed up with a tight over and the wicket of HH. Kanitkar, India were 33 for 4. Sairaj Bahutule (12) and Venkatesh Prasad (11) squeezed some runs out of the final two overs, but their total was never likely to trouble the South Africans. Justin Ontong ensured it didn't, scoring a sedate 32. Fittingly, it was Dros (12*), dropped on eight by Kambli, who settled the game, scoring the winning runs with nine balls to spare.