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Possibly the biggest year in the history of cricket in Estonia will reach its climax today when Kalev CC, the defending champions, and the club with the largest number of native-born players, meets Reval CC in the final of the domestic league at the Tallinn Hippodrome. As befitting a final, the third meeting of the two teams this season (honours are one-all) will be played under more testing conditions, 30-overs-a-side, at the 125m x 120m ground, which sits within a racecourse.
Kalev CC is captained by Andres Burget, one of 15 Estonians in the four-team league, where all sides are based in the capital Tallinn. Estonian Cricket Association (ECA) officials are hopeful the league, first played last year, can expand next season to Parmu and Tartu, with as many as eight sides. (Click here for the ECA website.)
Also among the ECA development's plans for next year is to have cricket in some format played in six selected high schools in Tallinn. That possibility was increased by the recent acceptance of the ECA as an Affiliate member of the International Cricket Council, and media attention gained with Estonia's win in a Twenty20 tournament involving teams from eastern Europe.
Two of the board members of the ECA are in the Kalev’s starting XI - captain Andres Burget and slow left-arm bowler Kristjan Kogerman. Reval, captained by James Ramsden, will be looking to complete a remarkable season; they won four successive matches after losing the first two games. Ramsden, unfortunately, will miss the final after sitting out the second half of the season owing to groin surgery.
It's all square with one win for each side against the other. Kalev won by six wickets in the opening game of the season with Vineeth Govind taking a career-best 5 for 20. In the second meeting it was a thrilling last-ball wicket for Andrus Kambre that won the game for Reval by four runs.
With Ramsden out of the side, it will be up to Oliver Slovodetsky to marshall the players on the field and open the batting. If Shiva Arunachamlam is in the mood for it, he could be a potential match-winner with bat and ball. For Kalev, Burget will juggle his bowling to get the best out of Vineeth Govind and Mike Tiffin, and will be looking for Kogerman to play a big innings with the bat.
Reval’s Siva Arunachamlam will be looking to take three wickets this Saturday to make it a remarkable 36 wickets from 36 matches this season (all competitions).
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Sub-editor (stats) After graduating in Economics from St Xavier's College, Mathew Varghese did a journalism course before joining Cricinfo. Born and brought up in Bombay, Mathew thought hailing from the same city as Sachin Tendulkar would automatically make him inherit some of the genius. Sadly, besides a low grip on the bat handle, he acquired nothing else. He still dreams of being the perfect cricketer - a Bradmanesque batsman who can blend aggression with dour defence; a bowler who can perform the roles of McGrath, Lee and Warne; a fielder in the Jonty class; and a captain-cum-coach with an unprecedented record.