Summer League gets underway
A day when the temperature never reached double digits, and drizzle drifted in and out throughout was by no means ideal for cricket but the Summer League got off to a good start anyway. It takes more than a bit of rain, drizzle and fog to deter Cricket NL players. Conditions were challenging for batsman, bowlers and fielders alike with the damp outfield resulting in a sodden heavy ball but that did not get in the way of some excellent cricket.
The opening match saw last year’s champions, the Avengers taking on the NL Eagles. The Avengers chose to bowl first after winning the toss. The Eagles made a steady start but lost Saeed Khan, smartly stumped when wandering out out of his crease, and Nadeem Saqlain, surprised by some extra bounce from Rahul Vashisht and caught behind. Madushanka was well caught by Saravana Kumar, and the Eagles were 20-3. Raheel Zaman and Messam Timar put on 26, batting well but struggling to get the ball to the boundary, as good strokes along the ground died in the longer grass of the outfield. Messam was bowled by Saravana, and then Madhu Bandara bowled his off-spin exceptionally well to take four wickets for 23. Raza Riaz hit well, scoring the first boundary of the innings with a drive over long on, and was unbeaten on 20 at the end. Ali Raza finished the innings with a six- very nearly a fifth wicket for Madhu, as the hit was caught fractionally over the boundary. Shami Khan took two wickets (as well as an excellent catch in the deep; he slipped and fell but still managed to get his hands under the ball), and Praveen Manhas bowled four overs for just 11 runs.
The final total of 97/8 looked as though it might be defendable in tough conditions for batsman, and an early wicket for the Eagles- a fine catch by Ali Raza from a well hit drive by Praveen Manhas, gave them hope. That, however brought in Rahul Vashishta, who played a splendid innings hitting well all round the ground. His 75 not out was made from 32 balls, with five fours and six sixes and was out of only 83 runs made from the bat. The Avengers won by 9 wickets in 8 overs. Madhu was named man of the match.
The second match featured the Newfoundland Super Kings and the Bangladesh Tigers, and again NSK winning the toss chose to field. Captain Hummam-bin Saif fell early but M Zilani and Anol Azad put together an excellent partnership of 52. Runs were hard to find, with again some good shots normally worth four only realizing singles or twos, but they ran well between the wickets. Zilani was caught for 25, bringing in Nazrul Shikon who hit two big sixes in his 22. Anol finished 49 not out, a classy innings, and in the conditions worth more than many half centuries. Abishek Doshi bowled 2 overs for just 5 runs and Rakesh Negi 4 overs for fifteen runs and one wicket. The final total of 119/3 looked to be a challenging target, and when NSK were two down with only 22 on the board, the Tigers seemed to have the upper hand. The game was turned by a fine partnership between Rakesh Negi (51*) and Adeel Ilyas (42). They were certainly helped by a number of catches that went to ground, but both played some fine strokes. When Adeel fell only 15 were needed; NSK lost 2 more wickets getting those runs but came out the winners by 5 wickets with 4.1 overs in hand. Indraneel Malik led the bowlers with 3/18.
Rakesh Negi was named man of the match.
It was even colder on Sunday, when the Royal Challengers made their outdoor league debut against the Eagles. The Eagles won the toss and put them into bat, and they had a tough start, losing two wickets in the second over. Bhupesh Sharma (18) and Amit Neghandi (42) put on 59 for the second wicket, and Shubbam Sharma (17*) and Guru Gopinath (13) helped the Royal Challengers reach a very respectable 121/5 in their twenty overs. Messam Timmar led the Eagles bowlers with 2/19. The Eagles however, with 43 not out from captain Raheel Zaman with support from Abdul Rafeh (24) and Messam Timar (18*) knocked off the runs in 11.4 overs. Raheel Zaman was named man of the match.