Wahab Riaz © Ike Li / Ike Images
Wahab Riaz © Ike Li / Ike Images

Wahab Riaz breathed fire on a chilly and overcast Hong Kong day to steer defending champions Kowloon Cantons to a 31-run win over the Kumar Sangakkara-led Galaxy Gladiators Nantau in the third match of the Hong Kong T20 Blitz. Gladiators were very much in the contest with 42 needed from 24 balls with Jade Dernbach and Munir Dar at the crease.

Wahab’s first spell had gone for nine off two overs. Skipper Babar Hayat held his premier bowler back as the side was defending only 158. Only three came off his penultimate over and he got the back of Dernbach, who had struck a six in the previous over.

Samit Patel fired in an impressive over, leaving Gladiators to get 34 runs of the last two. Wahab dismissed the well-set Munir, then Imran Arif and cleaned up Dan Pascoe with a perfect yorker to finish with 4-0-14-4.

Not an ideal start for Sangakkara, who is returning to the region for the second consecutive season.

“We did pretty decent with the ball. 159 is not even a par score on this ground. We were very poor with the bat especially in the first six overs,” Sangakkara said after the match.

The stylish southpaw was dismissed in the eighth over for 14 off 16 balls when Patel lured him to a false shot and took the return catch.

New Zealand pair of Anton Devcich and James Franklin kept the Gladiators in the battle till a run out stuttered their hopes. Thereon, they struggled with partnerships.

Patel’s form will make you think hard on why he isn’t there with the English team in the Oceania. He is having an excellent run in domestic cricket and the Cantons benefitted from that. His four overs cost them only 27 and he accounted for the most important wicket. Earlier, he was the star with the bat.

Put into bat, Cantons lost the wickets of both openers Hayat and Dwayne Smith for the score of 28 in the fifth over. Patel and Waqas Khan put on 81 off 50 balls for the third wicket to lay the foundation. Patel and Waqas fell in consecutive overs and Cantons began to slide. From being at 109 for 3 in the midway of 13th over, they were bowled out for 158 with Franklin picking three wickets.

Their bowlers brought them back in the contest but the top-heavy side will have to start scoring runs if they wish to replicate their magnificent run of last season.

Brief scores

Kowloon Cantons 158 all out in 20 overs [Waqas Khan 44 (36), Samit Patel 41 (23); James Franklin 4-1-21-3] beat Galaxy Gladiators Nantau 127 all out (Wahab Riaz 4-0-14-4) by 31 runs.

Man of the Match: Wahab Riaz