September 16, 2009

Austria

A review of the Austrian season

Judhajit

Neil Foster

Off-the-field problems and a desire to complete the league season before the ICC Division 4 Championship in Cyprus resulted in a changed format and a smaller number of teams in the Open League competition in 2009. Initially, the twelve teams were split into two groups, with teams from Vienna, Graz, Salzburg, Velden and Ljubljana (Slovenia) competing for a place in the Super Sixes. The National League was dominated by reigning champions Pakistan CC (PCC), while Lords CC (LCC) took the honours in the Austrian Conference.

PCC were again dominant in the Super Sixes stage, setting themselves up for a semi-final clash against Pakistan Falken CC, while LCC met Vienna CC (VCC). The first semi-final was played on a cold, wet day with the ball dominating the bat. Batting first, PCC were immediately under pressure at 50 for 5 and 100 for 8 later. However, the last two wickets managed to get them to a total of 170, and give their bowlers something to work with. PCC were superb during the reply, dismissing Pakistan Falken CC for 46.

Tight bowling from LCC in the second semi-final made it difficult for the VCC batsmen, but while wickets fell at regular intervals, some hard hitting at the end of the innings saw them reach a respectable 281 for 8. LCC then had the worst possible start and at 36 for 5, the game was all but lost. A solid partnership between Nandeep Soggi and Sukhvir Hira made the score look respectable, but once Nandeep was out for 58, the rest soon followed.

The final was played on a cold and windy day, and after two days of rain VCC opted to bowl first. At 67 for 1 they may have been regretting the decision, but then wickets began to tumble with PCC struggling to 111 for 6 at one stage, eventually ending on 176.

Another low score from the usually free-flowing PCC batsman and a good pitch to bat on meant that VCC were the clear favourites at the innings break. Not for the first time though, the VCC batsmen struggled in the chase and despite being in a handy position at 45 for 1, collapsed to 96 for 8. A partnership then developed between Erwin Grasinger (47) and Jon Orman (33) that got VCC to within four runs of victory with seven balls to spare. Both batsmen tried to reach the winning total with one hit and both ended up being bowled however, leaving VCC an agonising three runs short as PCC won the Open League for a third successive time.

The second Twenty20 trophy competition also took place in 2009, with six teams vying for honours. Following an initial round-robin stage, PCC again appeared in the semi-final facing Vienna Lions CC. Chasing 165 to win, Vienna Lions set about their task well, and despite losing wickets regularly were well placed with five overs to go. Tight bowling from PCC in the latter overs, however, saw them win by 13 runs.

In the other semi-final, VCC came up against United Nations CC (UNCC) who had easily beaten them in the group stages. UNCC, after being asked to field, were immediately on top as the Vienna CC batting order failed spectacularly, with only two batsmen reaching double figures. Chasing down 125 to win should have been fairly routine, but tight bowling from VCC and a steady flow of wickets meant that UNCC needed one to win off the last ball. With the field in, Jayapaul heaved the final ball for four to win the game and set up a final against PCC.

A day after narrowly beating VCC in the open league final, PCC had the opportunity of clinching the double for the third year in a row. However, it wasn’t to be as tight bowling from UNCC restricted PCC to 107 from just 18 overs. With PCC taking four wickets cheaply they must have had hopes of repeating the heroics from the day before, but Amir Malik and the hero of the semi-final, Jayapaul, joined forces to take UNCC home for the loss of seven wickets.

RELATED LINKS

RSS Feeds: Judhajit

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.