By Richard Boxall
The Cyprus national cricket team played four T10 international matches in Malta over the weekend, but returned home empty-handed after losing all the games to a strong host team.
This short format of cricket is favoured by European Cricket Network, who organised the matches, and provides the teams, spectators and a global television audience with a brutal version of the game which bears little resemblance to the sport played for centuries on the village green.
Whereas in traditional cricket spectators might see teams scoring at three or four runs per over, in T10 matches ten to fifteen an over is more the norm, as batters target the boundary and hit fours and sixes with alarming ease.
Cyprus’s weekend got off to a bad start as two players were unable to travel, leaving just a bare eleven players to play all the matches. Fortunately there were no injuries, much to the relief of the coach and manager who would have had to act as replacements.
The tone was set in the first game, as Malta amassed 150-4 before restricting Cyprus to 76-4. Malta showed that they were a particularly strong team, and Basil George top-scored for them with 61 from 23 balls.
In the afternoon game Malta scored even more – 171-4, led by their captain Varun Prasath with 66 not out. The highlight for Cyprus was one of the two catches taken by Taranjit Singh, a superb diving effort running in from the boundary which had the commentators raving.
Cyprus made an improved showing with the bat, reaching 94-4, including a half-century by Chamal Sadun featuring 6 sixes, but they were still beaten by a big margin.
The next morning Cyprus skipper Nalin Pathirana won the toss and decided to bat first, and watched his team score 99-2, with Sadun making 42. This total was something of a disappointment after scoring 59 without loss in the first 5 overs, at which point a total in excess of 120 seemed quite possible.
In reply Malta reached 97-1 in 8 overs, before a remarkable over by Roshan Siriwardana in which he took three wickets for just two runs, leaving the scores level with an over to go. At this point Cyprus were penalised with 5 penalty runs for a slow over rate and the game was lost by 6 wickets, with Basil George 53 not out.
The last game, despite resulting in another defeat, this time by 19 runs, saw Cyprus’s best performance of the weekend. They kept Malta reasonably in check – 104-3 from 8 overs – before conceding a disastrous 46 in the last two to find themselves chasing a target of 150.
By now Cyprus were becoming more attuned to the approach needed in this form of the game, and Scott Burdekin got them off to a good start with 37. This was followed by a terrific 41 from 15 balls by Taranjit Singh which earned him the player of the match award.
Although the task proved to be beyond Cyprus’s reach, they did achieve a creditable score of 131-5 to end the tournament on a slightly happier note.
Despite the defeat Cyprus did have the tournament’s most successful bowler, Roshan Siriwardana with 6 wickets, and top fielder, Taranjit Singh with 4 catches. Their leading batsman was Chamal Sadun who scored 116 runs at an average of nearly 40.
Meanwhile, back in Cyprus four matches were played in the T20 league, despite the wet weather, which was in contrast to the warm sunshine in Malta.
Markhor defeated Akrotiri by 20 runs to ensure that they and Black Caps will progress to the quarter finals from group A. Markhor’s 175-7 was based on solid contributions throughout the order, led by Shahzad Ahmed (39) and Abu Baqar Saddique (33). The top two individual scores in the match came from Akrotiri’s Sam Warren (52) and Josh Raikes (48), but they received little support and the innings slipped from 98-1 to 155-7 at the end of their 20 overs.
In the same group New Limassol Moufflons got off the mark with a 26-run win over Kipro Tigers of Limassol. Salman Akram (49 not out) and Ghulam Murtaza (33) took the Moufflons side to 163-5, before Amir Naseer Sheikh’s 3-24 helped bowl out the Tigers for 137.
Napa Royal Kings beat Telugu 11 by 8 wickets in group B. Manikanta Ranemekala hit 78 and captain Srinivas Angerekkala 41 not out in Telugu’s 174-5, but Mohamad Ikram (83) and skipper Hardeep Singh (57) put on an unbroken century stand to win the game, both batters hitting 7 sixes to finish the game with 4 overs to spare.
In group D Punjabi Kings secured their first win of the season by beating Cyprus Knight Riders by 25 runs, after Rajinder Kumar and Karan both hit half centuries, and their captain Mohit Sharma took 3-14.
There are two more weekends of group matches, with a number of quarter final places still to be decided. This Sunday Black Caps and Markhor will battle for first place in group A, while there are important games between Royal and Sri Lanka Lions in group C and between 1 Rifles and Moufflons in group D.