By Richard Boxall
The race for places in the knockout stage of the Cyprus autumn T20 league is hotting up, with just one weekend of group matches to be played. MSN Punjab Lions, Amdocs and Moufflons all kept their hopes alive with victories on Sunday, and all of this Sunday’s five matches can affect the top two positions in each of the groups.
Punjab Lions have had a poor season by their standards, but a convincing 8-wicket win over Everest has given them hope. Everest’s captain Arjun Shahi scored 51 to help them to 129-9, and then removed the dangerous Kulwinder Singh cheaply to reduce the Lions to 25-2.
That was as good as it got for Everest however, as Mangala Gunasekara and Taranjit Singh put on an unbroken century partnership inside 7 overs to win the match, both reaching their half century just before the end. Their fate now depends on Napa Royal Kings who need to overcome table-topping Limassol Qalandars next week to beat the Lions to the runners-up spot.
In a match reduced to 12 overs per side due to a late start, Moufflons beat Punjabi Kings by 7 wickets with 7 balls to spare. Karan’s 40 helped the Kings post a respectable 111-5, but Moufflons batters Shoaib Ahmad (37) and Awais Liaqat with a controlled 39 saw their team home and set up a winner-takes-all match against 1 Rifles to decide who progresses from the group along with Nicosia Tigers.
A feisty but enthralling encounter at Ypsonas saw nine-man Sri Lankans make a spirited attempt to defeat Amdocs. As well as being two players short, Sri Lankans had the misfortune to lose Prasad Suranga retired hurt on 32. They were rescued by a bold 43 from Kulathungage Ramyasirilal, enabling them to reach 150-7.
Amdocs lost a wicket to the first ball of their reply, but a stand of 82 between Chaitas Shah (36) and Vimal Khanduri (37) set them on their way. It was not all plain sailing as Sri Lankans’ Demintha Eishan Wickramasingha bowled well for his 4-30, but some sensible batting by Sagar Sanap and Vinod Sawant enabled them to reach their target with four wickets and five overs in hand.
Amdocs’ slim hopes of progressing now depend on the outcome of next Sunday’s match between Royal, who are already assured of a quarter final place, and Sri Lanka Lions who need to avoid a heavy defeat which could see them overtaken on net run rate.
The previous week only one game escaped the rain. Limassol Moufflons scored 193-6 with Ejaz Sikander making 61 and Salman Akram 62 not out, before restricting Akrotiri to 171-7. Tom Gregory (44) and Ed Sanderson (40 off 20 balls) were the main scorers for the airforcemen, while Gaganpreet Singh (4-31) played a major part by dismissing four of the top five batsmen. Both of these sides have shown glimpses of promise and will hope to go further in next season’s competition.