Dominant Costa Rica lift Volcano Cup
Costa Rica, boasting a cricket heritage dating back to the 1800s, were too good for El Salvador in two Twenty20 matches in San Salvador recently.
Taking advantage of the absence of ICC eligibility rules, a full strength Costa Rica used their edge in experience over a mainly indigenous El Salvador, winning the first match on December 19 by five wickets. The next day, a late home team collapse gave Costa Rica the win by 15 runs.
In the first match, El Salvador batted first. When several early wickets fell, panic set in until Alexander and Davis steadied the ship to post a semi-respectable score of 130. Costa Rica, in reply, seemed to be in control, hardly flying along but rather a nice steady pace with plenty of batters in the pavilion. A flurry of late wickets made it look as if their leisurely scoring rate might backfire until the captain Prasad came in and struck some boundaries to take them home safely enough.
In Sunday's match, the Costa Rican batsman took advantage of an opening attack where both bowlers were making their El Salvadorean debut and scored quickly. Once Mickey Peart retired on reaching 50 the Costa Rican scoring rate slowed down. The final total of 128 looked decent but not insurmountable. El Salvador seemed in control at the halfway stage of their reply with the top order batting well, especially Villalta. However a team including five debutants always suggested a collapse was possible and it eventuated. A couple of late boundaries made it look as if there might be a sting in the tail, but it wasn’t to be. Costa Rica maintained their 100% record against El Salvador to win the Volcano Cup.
The Volcano Cup is set to be, where possible, a permanent feature of the El Salvador cricket season. "It is to be always hosted by El Salvador and we are free to invite whoever we choose, and use whatever format as agreed between participants," explained El Salvador cricket official, Andrew Murgatroyd. So why the Volcano Cup? "It is an attempt at making a reference to local features of El Salvador - almost 50 volcanoes exist in our country. We have also have the image of a cricket ball exploding out of a volcano in our national logo."
Game1: (30 overs per side)
Costa Rica 131 for 5 (T Baker 40, C Prasad 31, S Cullen 3-19, S Karunarathe 2-32) beat El Salvador 130 (R Davis 39, P Alexander 25, P Pradeep 4-23, C Prasad 2 for 18) by five wickets
Man of the Match: T Baker (Costa Rica)
Game 2: (Twenty20)
Costa Rica 128 for 8 (M.Peart 51 ret., C Prasad 13, S Cullen 2-15, F Rivera 1-21) beat El Salvador 113 (M Villalta 33, P Alexander 21, S Arthur 5-14) by 15 runs
Man of the Match: M Villalta (El Salvador) and S Arthur (Costa Rica)
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo