By Richard Boxall

A momentous weekend for Cyprus cricket included the first hardball matches played by teams of women on the island, and in the men’s games some massive scores, with three centuries, and some very close finishes in the knockout stage of the two leagues.

The women’s teams of Moufflons and Sri Lanka Lions played two 10-over matches at Happy Valley, dressed in full protective gear and using the same hard cricket balls as the men.

The players were unfazed by this and fielded bravely and with enthusiasm. Both games followed a similar pattern, with Moufflons batting first in both games and scoring 55-6 in the first match and 63-3 in the second.

Both times Sri Lanka Lions passed their target for the loss of 3 wickets, so they hold a 2-0 lead in what is planned to be a five match series.

Notable performances were the all round efforts of Chathurangi in the first match (17 not out and 2-8 with the ball); the batting of Kumari in the second game (22 not out); and the fielding of Iresha in the second match, with a caught-and-bowled, a run out and a superb diving catch at square leg.

The men’s 40-over semi final at Ypsonas produced a run feast, as Moufflons’ 352-5 (Abubakar 101, Lakhwinder 89 in a partnership of 144 in 14 overs) was amazingly overhauled inside 32 overs by Sri Lanka Lions.

An opening stand of 180 by Akila (134) and Tharanga (95) set the Lions on the way, before Sadun, with 44 from 12 balls, and Kavindu (52 not out) finished the chase.

The other semi final resulted in a big win for Markhor. Despite Tiwari’s 6-27 for Everest, Markhor recovered from 75-5 to reach 220-8 from their 40 overs, thanks to Zeeshan’s unbeaten 87. Everest in reply slumped to 79 all out.

Markhor were in action next day in the T20 quarter finals, where they almost defended a low total of 104 against MSN Punjab Lions (Mangala 3-15, Taranjit 3-23).

The Lions were made to work hard to pass this score, as Junaid took 4-17. But Sonu (25) and an uncharacteristically cautious Mangala (29) did enough for a two-wicket win with an over to spare.

Another tight game was played between Amdocs and Lankan SC. Sujith’s 4-17 helped restrict Amdocs to 95 all out, but the Lankans lost six wickets in reaching their target (Vimal 3-17).

Amdocs might well have won if they did not drop a number if catches, with the main beneficiary being Suresh who batted throughout for 53 not out to guide his team home.

Nicosia Tigers scored 192-7, led by Arjun’s 73, but this was passed in 18 overs for the loss of only four wickets by Black Caps, for whom Bhupinder hit 67 not out.

In the other quarter final a century and two wickets by Waqas took Al Fatah to a six-wicket win over Moufflons, for whom Shoaib scored 69 out of a total if 161, with Umar also in the wickets with 4-25.

The draw for the semi finals pits Black Caps against Al Fatah and MSN Punjab Lions against Lankan SC on Sunday, with the winners contesting the final the same day.