Colin Ingram played a captain’s knock with the bat and then came back and proved he is no mean bowler too, as he led South Africa to a sweet Cup victory over Pakistan at the Karp Group Hong Kong Sixes on Sunday.
Ingram smacked an unbeaten 34 and then grabbed three wickets in a superb all-round performance as South Africa romped to a 37-run win to deny Pakistan a record sixth Cup title at the Hong Kong Sixes. It was South Africa’s fourth Cup championship.
“It has been an awesome event. The guys really enjoyed themselves and each other’s company and we just stuck to what we had done all week, which was to bowl tightly and field well. And our batting clicked as well,” said Ingram after lifting the winner’s purse of US$40,000.
Pakistan won the toss and put their adversaries into bat. With the Akmal brothers, skipper Kamran and Umar, firing all weekend, the defending champions believed their strength lay in their ability to run down any score.
But it was a daunting task that South Africa set them, posting 142 thanks to the top four – openers David Miller and Robert Frylinck, and then Dillon Du Preez and Ingram – firing on all cylinders.
Pakistan’s first three bowlers, Hammad Azam, Umar Akmal and Yasir Shah, all proved expensive. Azam was smacked for 29 runs while Akmal and Shah gave away 39 runs each as the South African batsmen feasted on the bowling, hitting 16 sixes between them.
Left-arm seamer Junaid Khan and Awais Zia gave Pakistan a semblance of a chance by bowling two tight final overs as South Africa finished on 142.
“It was a tough target but we still believed we could score the runs,” said dejected captain, Kamran Akmal. “We pulled it back a bit in the last two bowling overs and I felt we still had a good chance of chasing it down.”
The Akmal brothers began the run-chase superbly as Pakistan reached 53 for no loss with both the openers retiring having passed the obligatory 31-run mark. It was then that Ingram made his presence felt for the second time in the match, grabbing three wickets – Zia, Azam and Shah all caught going for big hits.
Kamran Akmal returned to the crease with two overs to go and Pakistan needing a further 59 runs. Junaid Khan then ran himself out to allow Umar Akmal to join his elder sibling but the dream chase never materialized.
Kamran added another 19 runs but on 51, was caught by Lyall Meyer off the bowling of Frylinck, top-edging an ambitious shot. Umar didn’t last longer, being snapped up at long-off by Ingram off the first ball of the last over bowled by Frylinck. Pakistan’s decision to chase had backfired.
“I had wobbly knees for the ball seemed to take ages to come down, but thankfully it was a clean catch,” Ingram said afterwards.
There was some consolation for Umar Akmal as he was named Player of the Tournament later, an award given for his consistent batting. But when it most mattered, he couldn’t quite deliver.
“We did not mind when they put us into bat for our main strength all week has been our bowling, and chasing means added pressure on you too,” said a joyous Ingram.
South Africa upped their game on Sunday, winning all three of the Cup competition round-robin fixtures defeating Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and Pakistan to enter the final.
Pakistan booked their berth with victories over a misfiring Sri Lanka, who lost all their three games, and Hong Kong, but hopes of giving their raucous fans in the stands a reason to celebrate were dashed by South Africa.
The Plate final was a surprise match-up after the Netherlands defeated England in the semi-final by 14 runs to book their berth against Australia in the consolation finale.
Five-time Cup champions England, led by Joshua Cobb, had been knocked out of Cup contention on the opening day by hosts Hong Kong in a must-win pool game to be relegated to the last four.
The hangover from that defeat lingered as the Dutch batting first set a challenging total of 101 which England’s band of County professionals failed to chase down despite an unbeaten 33 from Cobb.
In the other semi-final, Australia knocked out India, whose disappointing run was ended by a clinical display by the Aussies.
The Dutch, one of the leading associate member countries, couldn’t quite repeat their heroics as they could only muster 78 against Australia who reached the total without losing a wicket.