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Phuket Cricket: The South will have to rise again



PHUKET: Cricket’s stronghold of Southern Hemisphere (SH) representatives on Phuket had their Christmas celebrations cut short after a sound thrashing from their Northern Hemisphere (NH) counterparts at the ACG on Boxing day.

In a 40 over seasonal special, the batting of Seemant Raju and Rishi Sadarangani proved too strong for the southeners with both players scoring 50 to help secure the inaugural title by 5 wickets.

Generally, post-Christmas amateur sports matches are an excuse for parents to get out of the house and away from the infernal whirring, beeping and buzzing of new toys – with the added advantage of shedding a few pounds and then immediately reclaiming the losses from aprés-match socializing.

This face-off had all the elements of such an atmosphere which saw expats from Australia, South Africa and New Zealand combine to make up a Southern Hemisphere selection in a battle for prestige against British, Indian and Irish players who made up the Northern Hemisphere team.

However, after winning the toss, SH decided to put up a score for the northeners to chase and wisely used their full complement of 40 overs to post a very respectable 216 for 7 wickets.

Ian Lenton and Danny Hyams opened for SH and looked comfortable until the fifth over when Lenton moved too far down the crease to meet a delivery from Kishor Jhgata, and having missed the ball with bat turned to find his bails had been whipped by an alert Dean Noble behind the stumps.

The dismissal brought Neil Culpan to the crease and after the dismissal of Hyams (7), Culpan was joined by Burger Marks who eventually found confidence and rhythm to act as anchor for the SH innings.

After Culpan (12) was dismissed in extraordinary fashion – the ball ricocheted off both pads to roll on to the stumps – Stuart Reading came to the crease and pushed the run rate forward with an explosive 24 runs off 13 deliveries before Rishi found a gap to clean bowl the SH skipper. Damian Clowes added 15 to the total before Raju found his line to bowl the number six.

Carrying a broken thumb, Van Blerk took the crease without trepidation and showed good technique to offer solid ground strokes and support for Marks.

On resumption of the game after the 30 over drinks break, Sameer Khan returned to the Lake End and with his first ball enticed Van Blerk (21) into a cover cut shot that lifted to be snatched at point. Four deliveries later, the threat of Burger was eliminated in exactly the same position for a hard-fought 31 runs off 61 balls faced.

With the score at 173 for 5, Mario Piazza (26) entered proceedings and gallantly fended off the attentions of Khan, Jarasuriya and Jhgata to bring the score up to 216 for 7.

NH’s innings began with openers Noble and David Ogden facing the pace attack of Culpan which kept the batsmen on their toes with fiery deliveries flirting with the edge of bats and stumps.

A breakthrough for SH came in the third over when Noble was deemed to have edged a Culpan delivery for keeper Hyams to catch.

Khan (12) was next to the crease and after a few overs to get his eye in, looked to have found the middle of his bat when he lofted a delivery from Van Blerk for six.

Despite Khan’s confident stroke for a maximum, his next choice of shot bewildered his team mates when he prodded at a wide looping delivery from Van Blerk which came off his bat for the easiest of catches for Hyams.

Fuelled by a drop of dutch courage, Raju strode to the crease and began a somewhat fortunate trek to his half-century. Had SH held their catches, the NH skipper would have not seen 20, let alone his eventual score of 67.

Ogden’s was a solid performance proving the backbone to the NH innings, picking the bad ball when it presented itself before he was dismissed for 14 caught by Marks.

With the bit between his teeth, Rishi joined Raju in the 23rd over and immediately showed his intentions with a flurry of five boundaries in just 11 deliveries faced.

By the 37th over, both players had exceeded 50 and sealed an emphatic victory for NH with Rishi hitting the winning runs for a total of 62 not out.

The next Island Furniture League match will see the Lizards against ICC on January 8.


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