Bout-du-Monde, 1 May 2016, Premier League
Geneva Cricket Club, 375 for 9 in 40 overs (Idrees 132, Khurram 90, Ankit 56, Anser 55, Aamir 5-57), beat Geneva XI Stars, 255 all out in 33.2 overs (Arjun 58, Lalit 49, Khurram 2-29), by 120 runs
The Cricket Switzerland Premier League got off to an impressive start with Geneva CC scoring a significant amount of runs to register the first victory off the first game of the Western Division.
After a tough start of the season with friendlies rained off or lost wastefully, the first important match of the season took place on a greyish and biting cold Sunday… again! The Geneva Cricket Club has remained out of the main Swiss cricket competition for a prolonged period, so this first official match in six years was no occasion to play just for playing, but rather to play for winning. The weather forecast was determinedly mediocre but no showers were expected. With a wet outfield and soaked pitch, both batting and bowling conditions were set to be difficult for both teams.
XI Stars won the toss and elected to field. A light drizzling rain was falling on the ground, but not enough to deter the concentration of openers Ankit and Idrees. A dropped catch on Idrees by Ali and a failed chance by the keeper to catch Ankit behind allowed opening batsmen scoring a decent 58 runs in the first 10 overs. The aggressive batting of Idrees combined with the as-cool-as-an-ice-cube batting of Ankit proved to be arduous to stop. Ali Saleem from XI Stars bowled efficiently by conceding 20 runs in his first 5 overs. Although with no wickets down, the visitors started to feel the pressure rising. This was reflected during spinner Arjun’s first bowling over (13th over), where 23 runs were given off three sixes, one four and a wide. A pivotal point in the game. With Idrees already boasting a +50 score, Ankit reached also a half-century, only to be finally caught by keeper Kuldeep in 15.5 over. The score was already at 133.
At this point, XI Stars’ bowling efforts were not enough to stop Idrees from continuously blasting the ball over mid-wicket, long on, cover point or even long leg. Batsman n°3 Khurram Alvi rotated the strike elegantly although the wet outfield prevented some of his balls to go for fours. The partnership could not be broken by the average bowling from XI Stars, and both batsmen soon reached stellar scores. Idrees was finally wicketkeeper-caught for a mishit in the 29th over: 132 runs. Khurram accelerated after reaching fifty runs, but was deceived by a good ball wide off stump from Aamir to be caught at cover point by Mounir: 90 runs. Anser then left the ground bowled out by Aamir with a half-century in his pocket thanks to clinical finishes and a beautiful stroke: 55 runs. Aamir’s overall great five-wicket haul performance was all too late as the score was at 357 for 7 in 37.3 overs when Anser was dismissed. Geneva CC’s lower order was then so eager to score more runs that three of them got run out in a somehow strange fashion in the last over. Total score to chase for XI Stars: 375 runs for 9 wickets after a completed innings.
After the break, the great score by Geneva CC was undoubtedly very high, but it did not break the spirit of XI Stars’ players when they started their innings. Arjun displayed great offensive batting while Waleed adopted a more classical approach to build up his team’s innings by scoring singles and rotating the strike. Opening pace bowlers Afif (with excellent length) and Idrees (with a nice inswinging touch) managed to keep the runs per over at a decent rate but no wickets were falling. Pressure was mounting on GCC’s bowlers. Fast bowler Tariq and offspinner Anser stepped in, with the latter breaking the enthusiasm of the XI Stars crowd by maintaining a good economy rate. Finally, after Arjun reached his half-century and looked good to go further, the partnership was broken in 18.1 over by Idrees, who was bowling his last authorised over. Indeed, a painful bowled and caught followed two balls later by a perfectly obvious lbw on Waleed brought back the momentum on Geneva CC. Wicketkeeping batsman Kuldeep and Lalit had the difficult task to score at a rate of +13 runs per over. But then the required run rate took the best of the middle order, which crumbled down as too many boundaries were required. Kuldeep was caught at extra cover by Ahmed thanks to Ronak’s fast bowling in the 24th over, while Lalit was prevented to score a fifty in the following over when Afif kept his good length and allowed for Anser to catch beautifully the ball at long off… although he nearly stumbled on the wet grass before! 173 for 4 at 24.3 overs.
The rest is history with wickets falling nearly every over. Tariq finally got two wickets after a dropped catch and a missed chance. Khurram sealed the deal by running out Aman off a wide for a diamond duck (the poor Aman just came in and did not face a single ball) and by subsequently taking Ali Muhammad’s wicket thanks to a stunning catch by Saqib at the extra cover boundary. Tail-enders managed to survive 25 balls and XI stars was all out at 33.2 overs for a total of 255 runs.
All in all, a great victory for the Geneva Cricket Club, which starts its season with gusto. Idrees Haque is named man of the match for his 132 runs off 81 balls (including 4 fours and 14 sixes!) and 2 wickets for 53 runs conceded. XI Stars played with honours too and still has six games ahead of them to repair the damage. Cricket Switzerland’s Premier League promises thus to be an exciting competition this year!