Malaysia, Guernsey and Fiji open with wins
Malaysia, Guernsey and Fiji were the victorious teams on the opening day of the World Cricket League Division Six in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.
Adverse weather conditions meant one of the three games was shortened and the Duckworth-Lewis method applied after the rain clouds arrived in the late afternoon bringing thunder and lightning. No re-calculations were required for Fiji's match against Nigeria, or Guernsey's against Jersey, while hosts Malaysia had their game abandoned against Kuwait but not before D/L was imposed.
After a delayed start at the Selangor Turf Club cricket ground, Malaysia's Suresh Navaratnam dismissed Irfan Bhatti with his second delivery as the hosts made a spirited start against Kuwait. Watched by a small crowd of supporters at a venue that is surrounded by the Selangor Turf Club racetrack on the south-side of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia then removed Aamir Javed five overs later when the 22-year-old was bowled by Hassan Ghulam, while Navaratnam dismissed Sibtain Raza not long after for just one run.
Captain Hisham Mirza briefly steadied the innings but the slide continued when he fell for 22, with six wickets being lost before the score had passed 100. After a series of sloppy shots Kuwait were bowled out for 151 in the 47th over, Navaratnam collecting figures of 4 for 15. Faris Almas had his stumps rearranged by Abdullah Akhunzada as Malaysia's chase suffered some early blows, but captain Suhan Alagaratnam and Ahmed Faiz added an unbeaten 54 for the third wicket and put their side ahead of the required rate before the rains arrived. After a lengthy stop in play, the match was called to a halt and Malaysia won by 38 runs after D/L was calculated.
"I am very happy to have won," said Alagaratnam. "One win and we're building momentum. I was surprised Kuwait chose to bat, the wicket was a bit sticky early on. Our bowlers, especially Suresh [Navaratnam], did really well and the spinners played a big part. It's a little disappointing not to have finished the match but we know our strengths and I was glad to see how fast we were to the ball when fielding."
"We're very disappointed to have lost," added Kuwait captain Hisham. "Our batsmen couldn't cope with the early swing. If we win the toss tomorrow, I will think hard about bowling first.
"We're missing Mohammad Murad, he's the kind of bowler that gets early breakthroughs and he works well with Saad Khalid. Nevertheless we're looking forward to the rest of the tournament. One strong team would have lost today. We can bounce back."
At Kinrara Oval, Jersey took on local Channel Island rivals Guernsey in the sides' hotly anticipated first round game. Stuart Le Prevost's side won the toss and elected to bat against Peter Gough's bowling attack
Guernsey's star allrounder Jeremy Frith made his intentions for the tournament clear after the 33-year-old smashed his way to 80 runs to be the cornerstone of the side's innings. Frith departed after being caught by Jersey's Ben Stevens off the bowling of Gough.
Ross Kneller ably assisted Frith for some time, with the 28-year-old right-hander hitting a half-century, while after their departure Le Prevost and David Hooper added important runs. Jersey's bowlers shared the spoils with captain Gough the pick of the attack with 2 for 11.
Jersey initially looked like making light work of their target of 252, knocking off 131 runs before a wicket was lost. The fortunes began to change after a passing rain shower forced the teams from the field. Dean Morrison had been run out for 59 before the brief interval, and when the teams returned to the field Ben Stevens departed without a run to his name after being bowled by Jamie Nussbaumer.
Nussbaumer then dismissed in-form batsman Ed Farley who dragged the ball onto his stumps to depart for 64, gathering thunderclouds adding to the drama at Kinrara. Corey Bisson added a hard-fought 29 but Jersey captain Gough managed just 17 runs.
As thunder and lightning struck around the ground and the rain clouds converged, Jersey began to lose wickets and at six down in the 44th over, it began to look as though the threatening downpours might end the match. Jersey moved ahead on D/L after a 19-run over off Stuart Bisson, but the rain held off and a reinvigorated Guernsey bowling attack fought their way back into the game.
With two overs remaining, Jersey needed 14 with just one wicket in hand, and after some tight bowling the target was 10 from the final six deliveries. Tim Ravenscoft bowled James Faudemer with the second ball of the over to secure a nerve-wracking win.
"Obviously gutted about today with the fact we couldn't score a victory but to keep them down to 250 on such a good batting track was good," said Gough. "I was really pleased with the way our two young lads worked out in the middle. Corey Bisson and Sam de la Haye both worked really hard and now it's about improving for tomorrow."
"I think we were 15 to 20 short of runs on the board and then we didn't bowl well to begin with which didn't help us," added Frith, who was named man of the match. "I am a little disappointed that I didn't make it to a hundred and got us to 270 but fundamentally today got us two points. Jersey played fantastically and all credit to them, they probably deserved to win. It was a tough game out there but it's good to walk away with a win and take the two points."
Fiji got their tournament off to a flying start at Bayeumas Oval, beating the promoted Nigeria by 63 runs. Having won the toss and elected to bat, Fiji lost wickets early on but the Rika brothers, captain Joe and his brother Colin, came together and were soon batting fluently in the morning sunshine.
Their fightback was cut short when the Fijian captain was removed by Kunle Adegbola, but Colin Rika's 40 helped his team pass 100 before the lower order took up the challenge. Wicketkeeper Maciu Gauna made an unbeaten 37 from just 35 deliveries while No. 10 Mohammad Khan's quickfire cameo helped Fiji reach 203 for 8.
In reply the Nigerians simply could not handle the veteran Iniasi Cakacaka's canny offspin, the 43-year-old dismissing key batsmen Ramit Gill and Sean Philips on his way to 4 for 27. Despite the best attempts of Oluwaseun Odeku, who reached 29, Nigeria were bowled out for 140 in 41 overs.
the side was on its way to be all out for 140 when Lomani took two bottom order wickets and the victory was sealed for Fiji when Joshua Ogunlola was run out.
"It was great to start off with a win and the boys are feeling good," said Joe Rika. "Iniasi [Cakacaka] did really well to come back after making a duck with the bat, to come back and take four wickets was a great effort. The boys are really happy and we're looking forward to our next match tomorrow."
Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town