A blistering undefeated century from Hico McDonald last Sunday (Mar 20) helped the Thalang Cricket Team (TCT) to a 7 wicket win against the Laguna Cricket Club at the Alan Cooke Ground.
What was expected to be a preview of the Phuket Cricket L grand final wasn’t to be with both sides turning up without some of their key players. TCT were without their opening bowling pair of Alex Runhaar and Hossain Sylar. Laguna were without all-rounder Manish Sadarangani and hard hitter Ali Khan.
The coin toss was won by Laguna who choose to bat first with only 9 players present at the ground. TCT weren’t much better off, unavailability causing the top side to walk onto the sunburnt ACG with one ill player, an injured player, and 9 year old sub fielder Alex Dupont.
His father Anthony took the new ball and struck in the third over with the wicket of Damien Clowes. The next 7 overs didn’t yield a wicket. Some quality stroke play from Arif Mushtaq helped Laguna to 1/70 at drinks. The old adage that a wicket can fall straight after a break was proven true once again when Laguna’s captain Iqbal Malik mistimed the first ball of the 11th over and was caught for 25 runs. Moomin Sanga and Mushtaq exposed TCT’s lack of bowling depth crunching 42 runs in the next 4.4 overs before Sanga’s luck ran out 21 (17).
Two balls later Laguna were 3/113 when Mushtaq 43 (32) threw away a half century attempting to clear the infield only to find the big mitts of Carl Baxter at mid-on. Cool heads Stuart Reading and Sameer Khan steered Laguna to 143 runs off 19 overs.
The Thalang Cricket Team captain Andrew McMillan turned to his off spinner to bowl the last over before the break only to have Reading plunder 14 runs off the first 3 leg side deliveries. At drinks Laguna were 4/158 and may have considered that they could set a total above 300 runs with Martin Platts still to bat.
After a few minutes in the shade and some water TCT’s bowlers found a better line and length to stem Laguna’s flow or runs. Only 22 runs came off the next 6 overs. Pressure built and Reading was caught behind by Rehman off the bowling of McMillan for 42 (36). Laguna’s middle order lacked polish without M.Sadarangani and Ali Khan.
McMillan broke through for 2 more wickets in his next two overs and the flight of Martin Hill dragged Sameer Khan out of his crease, stumped for 19 (38). Laguna’s Platts and 15-year-old Satyam Sachdeva were the last of the batsmen and helped their side to another 15 runs before Platts was also stumped by Rehman after misjudging the flight of spinner Hill.
Laguna 9/209 (31.1 overs). Mushtaq 43 (32), Reading 42 (36), McMillan 3/30, Hill 2/11.
Bill Stahmer and Hico McDonald started TCT’s run chase with a bang. Stahmer drove Iqbal Malik through mid-off for four and McDonald finished the untidy over with another 2 boundaries.
Erratic bowling helped TCT to 17 runs from the second over and captain Malik replaced both opening bowlers. Leg-spinner Platts bowled with plenty of variety from the lake end but with only 10 Laguna players on the ground and a fast outfield there was plenty of easy runs taken.
Platts dropped McDonald on an easy caught and bowled chance then redeemed himself in the 10th over by turning one passed Stahmers bat and he was stumped for 25 (28). TCT were 1/93 at drinks with the clean hitting McDonald 59* (26).
After the break McDonald went on the charge, striking many leg-side boundaries to bring up his second Phuket Cricket League century in just 48 balls. Paddy Ledeboer chipped in with 36 (26) before Sameer Khan took his wicket and the wicket of Anthony Dupont in the same over.
TCT needed just 42 to win with 7 batsmen remaining and further reduced the target to 16 runs at the 20 over drinks break.
TCT reached the target 3 down in 22 overs.
Hico McDonald finished on 122 not out from 60 balls. His innings included six x 6s and 13 x 4s.
The big win for Thalang has insured that they will finish on the top of the Phuket Cricket League table and play in their third consecutive PCL final on May 1.
The big hit to Laguna’s percentage has now left the door ajar for Patong if they are able to win their last 3 matches.