Championship fever from coast to coast
We have come to expect high-level play from the matches in Canada's highest levels of cricket, but nobody could have expected what we got this weekend. Both Toronto and Calgary saw absolutely thrilling matches decide the titles, and Vancouver also decided a champion (though details are not yet known).
In Toronto, the championship was not decided until the second to last ball of the match. That ball brought the final wicket needed to give Yorkshire Cricket Club the Premier League title. Cavaliers won the toss and put Yorkshire in to bat first. Early on it looked like a mistake as Yorkshire raced to 130 runs for just a single wicket. Asif Mulla (60 runs) and Mohammad Iqbal (50) shared a second wicket partnership of better than 100 runs and it looked as though Yorkshire were headed to a big total. The rest of their lineup, however, did not contribute much and they were all out for just 187 runs. Fazil Sattaur led the bowlers taking four wickets for 27 runs and Sunil Dhaniram contributed 3-17.
Cavaliers looked in fine shape, as their powerful batters were the best in the league this year. The batting from the Cavaliers was strong and powerful, as expected, but the batsmen seemed to take some unnecessary risks. That, combined with exemplary fielding from Yorkshire, turned a simple run chase into a rather difficult one. There were great outfield catches and precision run outs that brought the game to the final over. On the 5th ball of the over with the score 4 runs shy of Yorkshire's the final wicket fell closing a valiant 10th wicket partnership of 55 runs. A thrilling match to decide the champion of Toronto.
The final match in the Calgary Premier Division was equally, if not more thrilling than this one! Though there is no championship match in the league, St. John's came into their last match in a tie for top spot on the table with a chance to control their own destiny. Playing against Cavaliers, they needed a win or washout to move ahead of Predators and claim the title. The match, reduced to 40 overs by rain, began with Cavaliers batting on what was a bowler's pitch. It showed early, as both the openers were gone for a duck. The only batsman to make any contribution was Ananda Padmanabhan who scored 67 before being bowled by Rathan Moorthy. Cavaliers eventually slumped to 142 all out from 35.2 overs. Hameed Zaman took three wickets for 21 runs from his 8 overs of bowling.
St. John's could smell the trophy, but perhaps they let their minds get there a little too early. They too struggled mightily at the crease and were in dire straits as their top five batsmen managed a total of 25 runs. It was only a great effort by the lower order (and some sloppy bowling from Cavaliers) that even got them close to the target. We often hear jokes about Extras being the leading scorer but in this case it was true. 31 extras trumped the 30 runs from top scorer Shakaib Qureshi. When the dust had settled, St, John's had made 142 all out, lasting 37.5 overs of the allotted 40. A rare tie, the first in at least 20 years in Calgary cricket. Though this gave St. John's the sam number of points than Predators, it was not enough to give them the championship. The deciding factor in Calgary is not points, but average points per game. Since Predators had had a match rained out earlier in the year, they had one match less than St. John's. This made their Points Per Game superior and handed the championship to Predators for the first time.
Vancouver also crowned a champion on the weekend as Salim Akbar defeated Meraloma to take the championship. Unfortunately no details of the match are presently available - they will be provided as soon as possible.