Farhaan Berhardien takes South Africa to thrilling win
Farhaan Behardien hit a six off the last ball to hand South Africa a two-wicket victory over the home side in the final of the Hong Kong Cricket Sixes. Hong Kong, who had been the surprise package of the tournament, had beaten Davey Jacobs' side twice already en route to the final, and looked on course for a third win with South Africa losing three wickets in the second eight-ball over.
Chasing 98 with only 24 balls to spare, Behardien and his Titans team-mate, David Wiese, took charge before retiring according to the rules of the tournament, which state that a player must retire after reaching 30. While Wiese made 32 off 13 balls, Behardien went on the rampage with a nine-ball 31.
Both players had to come back though, after the other batsmen had been dismissed. Behardien hit a six off the second ball and then had to retire to be replaced by Wiese, who was sent back first ball. Werner Coetsee then faced the next four balls scoring a six off the second and a single off the fourth.
That left Behardien on strike with five needed for victory. He lofted Mark Wright out of the ground to finish on 37 off 10 balls.
"I remember just thinking about how the atmosphere was unbelievable and I was soaking up the atmosphere, with everyone cheering for Hong Kong," said Behardien. "I knew I had to hit a six and I was fortunate enough that it came off today. In this form of cricket you have to try to hit the ball as hard as you can and try and get sixes. That's about it, really. I think the team chasing always has a better chance of winning."
"It was a pretty exciting finish," said Davey Jacobs, the South Africa captain. "Hong Kong were probably the most consistent team in the tournament and fortunately we managed to beat them when it counted."
Despite losing their first game of the tournament, Hong Kong captain Najeeb Amar was proud of the performance of his players. "It's disappointing," Najeeb said. "We lost the toss and I like to win the toss and chase. It was a huge decision for us, but we have shown the world how close we were in this competition. I've no words to thank my team mates because they've done a great job playing against all these Test-playing nations."
Hong Kong's Irfan Ahmed won the Ben Hollioake Trophy, awarded to the tournament's leading player. "It was great to play in this competition," said Irfan. "We did well and I've been looking forward to this for quite a while. Almost everything went well. I want to go into the IPL and this was a good chance for me to show what I can do if I'm given a bigger opportunity."
Apart from losing to Hong Kong twice, South Africa were victorious against Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and England on their way to picking up the winners' cheque of HK$55 000. It was also their second title in the last four years, having won under Nicky Boje in 2006.
Gerald Majola, the Cricket South Africa chief executive, congratulated the team on their victory. "All credit must go to Davey Jacobs and his merry men for winning the Hong Kong Sixes in nail-biting fashion," Majola said. "It's wonderful to see a South African team winning an international knock-out competition by holding their nerve. Winning becomes a habit, and this bodes well for major tournaments in the future."
New Zealand won the Plate final by defeating Australia by five wickets.