By Richard Boxall

After the busy week of international cricket, the domestic cup finals were played over the weekend, resulting in deserved wins for Al Fatah in the BAOFinancial T20 Cup presented by HurryCurry, and Markhor ijn the 40-Over Cup.

Al Fatah chose to bat first against MSN Punjab Lions in the T20 match, and after losing two early wickets to Mangala, they were put on their way to a competitive score by Waqas (75) and Awais (34) in a solid third wicket partnership. Both fell to catches by Vikram, including a brilliant diving effort in the deep to remove Awais, and the reliable Taranjit also held two catches.

Omer bowled his leggies well in the final overs to take two wickets, but the final score of 161-8 set a stiff target with the long boundaries and slow outfield.

Al Fatah bowled and fielded very well, reducing the Lions to 32-5, including a spectacular one-handed diving catch by Aziz to remove Zeeshan. Vikram played the only substantial innings (45 from 37 balls) but received little support. The ;last pair – Kapila and Omer – put on 23 but it was too late and the innings ended at 122 all out, leaving Al Fatah victors by 39 runs.

Awais and Tasawar took 3 wickets each, and the Al Fatah bowling and fielding was generally superior to their opponents. Their captain Abubaqar, who held a difficult skier to remove the dangerous Taranjit, proudly lifted the winners’ trophy, while Waqas won the tournament awards for best batsman (339 runs) and “most valuable player”. The best bowler award went to Junaid of Markhor with 17 wickets.

In the 40-Over final Markhor defeated Sri Lanka Lions for the second time this season, having already beaten them in the group stage. This was a decisive win, by 68 runs, against an out-of-sorts Lions team which for various reasons was not at its best.

Markhor batted first and compiled 268, with Zeeshan top-scoring on 81 from 56 balls. He was backed up by solid knocks from Malik (49), Umer (46) and Salman (31) as the Lions tried 8 bowlers without much success.

Tharanga led the Lions’ reply with 74 but apart from Srinath’s 34 he received little support, and they were all out for 194 with almost 7 overs unused. Salman’s 3-33 included the key wickets of Akila and Roshan for only one run between them.

Performances in this match went a long way towards deciding the individual awards also. Zeeshan won the batting trophy for his 390 runs for only twice out, showing remarkable consistency with scores of 46, 80*, 96*, 87* and 81. Salman’s 3 wickets helped him take the bowling award with 14 wickets. The MVP was, unsurprisingly, also Zeeshan.

Markhor’s captain Malik, who himself had a very successful season with both bat and ball, was delighted to lift the winners’ trophy on behalf of his team. Both Markhor and Al Fatah are relatively new teams that have quickly risen to the top of Cyprus cricket.