By Richard Boxall

The last round of group matches in the Cyprus T20 cricket league saw Markhor and Sri Lanka Lions snatch top spot in groups A and C, while Moufflons claimed their quarter final berth by securing runners-up place in group D. Wins for Limassol Qalandars and Nicosia Tigers confirmed their places and completed 100% records for them in groups B and D.

The quarter final draw has thrown up the following games, to be played on Sunday:

Markhor v Moufflons

Nicosia Tigers v MSN Punjab Lions

Limassol Qalandars v Royal

Sri Lanka Lions v Black Caps

Sri Lanka Lions needed to win their game against Royal to be sure of finishing in the top two, with Amdocs hoping they might slip up and allow them through. By securing the win, the Lions overtook Royal to finish top of the group.

Despite an opening stand of 60 by Karan Singh and Satish Bhardwaj, Royal slipped to 114 all out, with Sameera Madushan Rodrigo taking 5-20 and Akila De Silva 3-12. After the loss of two early wickets in reply, and being docked one over for a late start, the Lions were seen to victory by solid contributions from Kavindu Arachchilage, Chamal Sadun and Srinath Rajith.

Napa Royal Kings needed to beat Qalandars to reach the knockout stage at the expense of MSN Punjab Lions, which would have been a major shock after the Lions’ recent domination of Cyprus cricket. But their hopes were dashed when they were reduced to 25-5, and in spite of Hardeep Singh’s 34 in 20 balls, with 4 sixes, they were all out for 102, with Prashant Patel taking 3-10.

Qalandars also found runscoring hard, as Rauf Zaman took 4-17 for the Kings, but reached their target for the loss of 6 wickets to cement top place in the group.

Cyprus Knight Riders put up a creditable performance against unbeaten Nicosia Tigers, reaching 172-4, with 47 by Yeasin Molla and 44 from Saddam. The Tigers reached their goal for the loss of three wickets and with 9 balls to spare, after 59 not out by Mofijur Rahman Sagor, 47 by Waqas Akhtar and 33 from Aminul Islam Chowdhury.

Markhor and Black Caps were already sure of their quarter final places, so their match was simply a contest to see who would top the group. Markhor made 159-7, with 54 from Abu Baqar Saddique, while for the Caps Lovedeep Singh Bhullar and Rajwinder Singh Brar bowled economically and Lovedeep Singh Sandhu took 3-37 before top-scoring with 24 in a disappointing reply of 140 all out.

Tasawar Gujjar (4-17) and Babar Ayub, who followed his 34 runs with 2-18 from his 4 overs, were Markhor’s most effective bowlers as they clinched top place.

The game at Dhekelia was keenly anticipated as a showdown for the group runners-up spot and a place in the quarter finals for the winners, but turned out to be a disappointment as a contest. Ten-man Moufflons thrashed nine-man 1 Rifles in a very one-sided match.

The Rifles, who were missing three of their best players, struggled to 44 all out, as Muhammad Tanveer took the first four wickets at a personal cost of 10 runs in his 4 overs. Moufflons knocked off the runs inside 5 overs for the loss of one wicket.

After the current competition ends, next year’s T20 and 40-over leagues will commence in early March. Any new teams wishing to enter are invited to apply at [email protected]