By Richard Boxall

The T20 International series between the men’s teams of Cyprus and Estonia – and the 10-over matches that preceded it – were keenly contested between two well matched teams, but in the end Estonia triumphed in both events, winning the T10s 3-2 and the T20i series 4-2.

For both teams these matches formed an important part of preparations for the world T20 qualifying competition in August, and both will have benefitted from the competitive cricket on display.

The first two T20s followed a similar pattern, with Cyprus posting a reasonable score – 195-7 followed by 191-7 – but in each case Estonia chased it down, first with three balls to spare and then with an astonishing 7 overs left.

In the first match Taranjit Singh hit one of the fastest fifties in T20i history, off just 15 balls, with good support from Scott Austin and Arjun Shahi, but the real fireworks came in the second match, after another rapid knock by Taranjit, when Estonia’s Sahil Chauhan smashed 144 not out, with 18 sixes. He reached his century off 27 balls, setting a new world record for the fastest ton ever hit in T20 internationals, ahead of the likes of Rohit Sharma and David Miller.

The third match saw the first win for Cyprus after Scott Burdekin and Jimi Chialoufas had led the way to 166-7. Three wickets apiece for Burdekin and fellow off-spinner Neeraj Tiwari pegged Estonia back after a good start, and Cyprus won by 12 runs.

The fourth match was pivotal and ended disappointingly for Cyprus. Tiwari had identical figures to the previous match (3-18) and Shahi also took 3, as Estonia were bowled out for 144. But in reply Cyprus were bowled out for 118 as Chauhan showed he can bowl too with figures of 4-19.

In the fifth game Cyprus dragged themselves back into the series with a 4-wicket win. Roshan Siriwardena with three wickets and Akila Kalugala (42) were the main contributors, with a vital effort with the bat by Mangala Gunasekara at the end.

Needing to win the last game to level the series, Cyprus slumped to a 31-run defeat. Three Estonian batters made half-centuries as they scored 186-5, and despite good efforts by Akila and Mangala Cyprus were well beaten at the end of a tough week.

Prior to the T20 Internationals the teams played a 5-match series of T10 matches, which Estonia won by 3-2. Estonia’s Chauhan was again the top scorer, while Burdekin and Akila had successful series with the bat, and Cyprus’s Arjun Shahi was the top bowler with 7 wickets.

In the women’s T20i series being played at the same time as the men, Cyprus extended their 4-0 lead to win the series by 5-0, with one match being abandoned. Iresha Chathurani continued her fine form with 68 not out in the final match, giving her a total of over 200 runs in the series without ever being dismissed. Estonia made 98 in reply to the Cyprus total of 125-4.

So in the end, disappointment but valuable lessons learned for the men, and pure unbridled joy for the women, who will be looking forward to new challenges. The men’s squad meanwhile will continue their preparations for the next important event in Guernsey.