Last Sunday (May 1), the Alan Cooke Ground (ACG) hosted the Phuket Cricket Group (PCG) 40 Over Final between top of the table Thalang Cricket Team (TCT) and second-placed Laguna. With Thailand recording its hottest April in 65 years, a similarly heated match was anticipated with both sides boasting strong line ups.
The outfield was expected to be very fast in the hot and dry conditions which augured well for a high scoring match, barring any side succumbing to the nerves in the final. It lived up to expectations with Laguna securing victory by 38 runs after setting a match-winning total of 265 all out from 36.4 overs, while TCT responded with a valiant 227 all out from 36 overs.
After winning the toss, Laguna took the opportunity to bat first, setting a solid total for TCT and provide them with the opportunity to wear down the TCT team in the field with the heat prior to the second innings.
This proved an effective strategy with openers Moomin Sanga (62) and Damian Clowes (11) putting on a strong 74-run partnership until Clowes eventually fell, just 3 balls after the 10 over drinks break.
Sanga eventually lost his wicket in the 15th over with the score at 93 runs. Manish Sadarangani (41) and Arif Mushtaq (27) then combined to push the innings along to 136 before Mushtaq was dismissed after the 20 over drinks break.
If Laguna could maintain the run rate, they were looking at 250 plus total from their 40 over allocation.
In the second half of their innings, Sadarangani and Iqbal Malik (16) combined for a 31-run partnership until Sadarangani was bowled by Andrew Macmillan in the 27th over with the score on 167-4.
However, just six balls later, experienced batsman Sameer Khan (1) was dismissed nicking a ball into the bottom of wicket-keeper Mudisir Rehman’s pads, the latter claiming an unusual catch by managing to keep his feet together to prevent the ball touching the ground.
On the final ball before the 30 over drinks break, Malik was dismissed popping a catch to Macmillan at mid-wicket with TCT taking the honours in the session, restricting Laguna to just 50 runs.
Just 2 balls after the drinks break, Rishi Sadarangani (0) was sent back to the clubhouse after being caught, leaving Laguna looking like their innings was about to fizzle out and capitulate for less than 200 runs with the score now at 188-7.
However, Laguna still had plenty of experienced batting left with big-hitting Ali Khan (40) and Stuart Reading (34) smashing 61 runs off just 26 balls to accelerate the innings to 249-8 before Khan was caught at deep mid-wicket in the 35th over.
Roly Cooper (2) and Reading put on a further 15 runs before Cooper was clean bowled on the first ball of the 37th over, and Reading was eventually dismissed on the fourth ball with a solid total 265 runs leaving Thalang with 266 runs to score to defend their title.
After lunch break, TCT sent out openers Andrew Macmillan (64) and Mudisir Rehman (1). With both batsmen very fast between the wickets, they were looking to put pressure on the Laguna fieldsmen with quick singles.
However, this backfired when Rehman was run out on just the fourth ball of their innings. Gary Lane (8) then joined the action in the middle, only to suffer the same fate in the sixth over with TCT languishing at 23-2.
This brought PCG’s top run scorer Hico Macdonald (19) to the crease, and it was imperative that a big partnership between TCT’s key batsmen Macmillan and Macdonald ensued, as they had done in their previous match against Laguna where Macdonald had scored an unbeaten century.
It was not to be Macdonald’s day as he was bowled by Manish Sadarangani just 3 balls after the 10 over drinks break with the score on 63-3 leaving another 203 runs still required for victory from 30 overs.
Macmillan and D Mills (24) put on a 52-run partnership before Macmillan was dismissed in the 18th over. Mills and Mark Whetton (22) maintained the required run rate at the halfway mark of the innings. However, Mills holed out at deep mid-on just three balls after the 20 over drinks break at 133-5.
With another 133 runs required for victory from 20 overs, victory was not impossible as TCT still had plenty of experienced batsmen to come, but it was vital that one of them scored big.
W Pearce (15), Craig Murphy (14) both got good starts but were dismissed before the 30 over mark and at 188-8 at the end of the 29th over, it was left to the experienced Bill Stahmer (22) and Anthony Du Pont to bring victory home for TCT.
In the 32nd over Du Pont popped a ball up to Roly Cooper at mid-off, which he juggled but eventually caught on his second grab.
Stahmer and Martin Hill (6 not-out) put up some resistance over the next few overs, putting on a further 23 runs, but on the final ball of the 36th over, Sameer Khan eventually secured a well-deserved victory for Laguna trapping Stahmer LBW, bowling out TCT 38 runs short of their target with 227 runs.