By Richard Boxall

Sunday’s cricket threw up some significant results in the 2023 CCA BAOFinancial T10 Cup. Sri Lanka Lions, who had already finished their matches in group A and seemed to have done enough to finish top and qualify for the semi finals, had their hopes shattered by Markhor, who beat Limassol Qalandars so convincingly that they were able to draw level on points and to marginally surpass the Lions’ net run rate.

By contrast Sri Lankan CC from Nicosia, whose hopes had been dealt a severe blow when they lost to Limassol Zalmi in their first match in group C, now bounced back with a big win over Limassol Bangladeshis which means they still have a chance to win the group if they can beat Punjab Lions in two weeks’ time. Zalmi however could still finish top themselves with a big win in their last game, provided Punjab Lions do not beat Sri Lankans.

Key performers for Markhor in their victory were Waqas Akhtar (85 from 31 balls) and Zeeshan Ahmed (62, and 2-7 with the ball) as they hit a massive 179-2 before bowling Qalandars out for 50 in a very one-sided contest.

Sri Lankans on the other hand struggled at first, slipping to 26-5 and then 61-7 as Faysal Hossain took 4-32. They were rescued by Randunu Ranathunga’s 56 not out as they recovered to 115-9. Bangladeshis were completely unable to challenge this total as Lahiru Udayanga, Buddika Ranasinghe and Mangala Gunasekara each took two cheap wickets in restricting them to 50-8 in their 10 overs.

The other two games were low scoring but intriguing encounters. Amdocs sportingly chose to play on when they could have claimed the points against a late-arriving Bazigar, and restricted them to a modest 76-5. Opener Babar Ayub batted through for 34 not out, and Sulaiman Khan hit an unbeaten 19 off 7 balls, while Amdocs bowlers Vinod Sawant and Vimal Khandari took two wickets each and Hitesh Thadani conceded only 5 runs from his two overs.

Amdocs in reply were always behind the required scoring rate, and found themselves needing 31 from the last three overs. But the next two, bowled by Naveed Ahmed and Usama Nadeem, produced only 10 runs and three wickets, and the contest was effectively over.

Cyprus Super Kings also struggled for runs against Limassol Moufflons. Subbareddy Alavala made the top score of 21 not out, while Moufflons captain Abdul Rehman took two wickets and three fine catches in restricting them to 69-7.

For 8 overs of the Moufflons reply the match was very much alive, as the Super Kings kept the scoring in check. Ghulam Murtaza played a responsible innings of 21, but at 53-3 a further 17 runs were still needed from two overs. However, the main bowlers had used their quota of overs, and the ninth over saw the game finished with a flurry of runs, culminating in a reverse hit for 6 by Saad Azeem for the winning runs, with Salman Akram unbeaten on 20.

This week Cyprus Cricket received a visit from REME, a British army team who came from the UK for some warm weather practice before their own season begins. Based at Episkopi, the team played four matches against local sides, as well as sampling a little of Cyprus life.

Their first game, against Moufflons CC, produced one of the most remarkable finishes likely to be seen on a cricket field. Chasing REME’s 147 (Dixon 39) at the Happy Valley ground, Moufflons collapsed from 48-0 (Minhas Khan 35) to 91-9, staring a heavy defeat in the face.

At this point, numbers 10 and 11 Hardeep Singh and Waqar Ali decided that all-out attack was the only way forward, and set about the bowling with a range of aggressive shots – lofted drives from Hardeep and vigorous pulls by Waqar.

The pair rapidly put on an unbroken 60 for the last wicket in just 20 balls to win the game by one wicket. Hardeep hit 28 with 4 sixes while Waqar’s 30 consisted of 3 sixes and 3 fours. It was certainly a dramatic introduction to Cyprus for the visitors.

On Saturday a very different game saw REME soundly beaten by a Cyprus XI which included a number of players with experience of T20 international cricket. Led by Akila De Silva’s fine 82, Cyprus hit 282-9, with Awais Liaqat benefitting from several dropped catches to add 55, and Nalin Pathirana boosting the total with a rapid 28 not out.

REME’s Dixon was again their top scorer with 64 before being last out, but received little support as his team struggled to 113 all out. For Cyprus there were two-wicket hauls for Sadun Chamal, who also effected a direct hit run out, Rajwinder Brar, Akila De Silva and Awais Liaqat.

REME took on a changed Cyprus XI in two T20 matches on Sunday. In the first game Akila’s 39, 31 by Roman Mazumder and a rapid 28 from Iftekar Jaman helped Cyprus to 220-7, while Fletcher’s 63 was not enough to prevent a heavy defeat for REME, with three wickets for Hardeep Singh.

Having made 112 in that game, REME totalled 111 -6 in the second match, with a further three wickets for Hardeep. This total was knocked off fairly comfortably by the Cyprus team, with Sadun Chamal finishing on 49 not out.

This coming week Punjab Lions travel to Spain to represent Cyprus in the European Cricket Series, a competition in which they performed creditably last year and will be hoping to do even better this time. Meanwhile back home the quest for semi-final places in the T10 league continues, with four more matches scheduled on Sunday at Ypsonas.