Bout-du-Monde, 21 August 2016, Premier League Quarter-Final
St Gallen Cricket Club, 203 for 9 in 40 overs (Nasir 114*, Anser 3-18, Ronak 3-67), beat Geneva Cricket Club, 176 all out 36.4 overs (Idrees 49, Anser 44, Nasim 4-39), by 27 runs
What a great feat for Geneva CC to reach the quarter-finals after being away for such a long time! Unfortunately, the oldest cricket club in Switzerland fell off the competition after another weird batting lineup collapse. The crumbling down of the middle order has become a trend this season that finally proved to be fatal. Quite amazing how this match mirrored the one Geneva played against Cossonay, with the notable difference that we were not victorious this time… Overall, it was nonetheless a great match in which St Gallen’s skipper Nasir propelled the team to a good total with his stellar score of 114 not out. The visitors’ bowling attack excelled too and took wickets at very opportune times. Geneva’s opening batsmen and bowlers also displayed some nice batting and swinging skills, although they were not consistent enough to pass the mark. A pity, as the match could have been won, if it were not for the huge amount of extras conceded and the collapse of the middle order.
A beautiful bright day in Geneva on the bouncy and pacy wicket of the Bout-de-Monde set the tone for the day. Given the short boundaries and the soon-to-be-dried wet field, St Gallen won the toss and logically elected to bat. Afif and Aamir started the bowling attack and it did not took too long before St Gallen lost a wicket. At 3.2 overs, Sweeper Saad moved quickly to long on to catch a good ball by Aamir. In the next over, Afif damaged further the visitor after Naresh mishit the ball for a bowled-and-caught.Wickets then fell regularly and brought St Gallen to the edge. At the drinks break (20 overs), the score was at 67 for 6 with nearly a third of the score conceded through wides… Noteworthy was Ronak’s sharp outswinging balls which crashed twice in the same fashion against the stumps and Khurram’s super sharp boundary catch at forward square leg off Anser’s action. Two overs later, Bajwa’s wicket at number 8 fell for a slight top edge thanks t Anser. The only man to look unshaken and imperturbable was the skipper Nasir, who kept blocking the ball, scoring singles and ticking few boundaries here and there. Excellent batting from the visitors side’s captain.
At this stage, SGCC looked in real trouble. The score after 22 overs was 70 for 7. Then the same scenario that the one in Cossonay happened. Nasit stayed on the crease and started building up a good 53-run partnership with Niroj off the eighth wicket. Things started to accelerate dramatically after the 100 runs mark was passed after 31 overs. Niroj was bowled out by Ronak at 33.2 and Waqar was eliminated by Idrees at 36.1 (crazy diving catch by Khurram, fielder of the day), but nothing could stop Nasir who then started to blast the ball for sixes and fours all around the place. In 9 overs, the score went from 101 to a total of 203. Tremendous that is. While SGCC could have been stopped at about 100 runs, the perseverance and patience of the captain allowed the team to reach a more than decent score.
The second innings started quite well for Geneva CC. At the drinks break, the score was at 117 for 2 compared to 67 for 6 for St Gallen, which seemed promising. Idrees allowed the tally to go up quickly thanks to his usual aggressive batting and Anser commenced slowly, only to shift gears after having faced enough balls. Idrees was unfortunately caught behind just before scoring another half-ton and Anser followed suit in the same fashion just before the drinks break with 44 runs in his pocket. St Gallen’s bowlers bowled with fiery pace and sometimes swing. Khurram at no 3 and Saad at no 4 were setting themselves well on the crease when they got dismissed by Nasim who just shattered the whole middle order. Indeed, Nasim dismissed number 3, 4, 5 and 6 and sealed the deal with just 28 balls bowled. In just 11 overs, Geneva lost the 6 following wickets, as if batsmen lost completely hope to win the match, despite the very comfortable score at the drinks break. Reckless batting, useless slogging and lack of concentration got the best of the rest of Geneva’s battign order. Niroj put the cherry on top when last man Tariq was bowled out at 36.4 overs. SGCC won by 27 runs with 20 balls remaining.
There are no doubts that such loss could have been easily avoided, but that is how cricket goes. Geneva CC is now hopeful that its players will learn from their mistakes and develop their batting techniques further. All in all, it is a great achievement for Geneva CC to reach the quarter-finals after a +6-year hiatus in Swiss cricket, but a lot work is still required to ensure that the team can lift trophies again. Geneva CC will now play the T20 Swiss semi-final on 4 September and hope to improve and adjust in the meantime.