Royal Nordic Cup stays in Denmark
The gods must have been supporting the Danes as the sun shone for both Saturday and Sunday making sure all the matches were played in this year's T20 Royal Nordic cup. The home side were of course motivated to win all their matches, as Norway won the tournament last year. The Danes opened their campaign by facing Finland, the weakest of the sides. The Danes won the toss and chose to bat first. It was obvious from the first over that the Finnish bowling attack wasn't the worst in the world and their fielding organisation certainly needs to be looked at, as it gave the Danish batsmen extra lives. Sharzad Ahmed (52) and Hamid Shah (53*) were the main contributors in a Danish innings where batsmen produced a run for nearly every ball plus, of course, the boundaries. After 20 overs the scoreboard showed 172 for the loss of just two wickets.
The Danish fielding was much more organised and that led to the running out of two Finnish batsmen. None of the Finnish batsmen were able to settle down and wickets fell regularly. They especially found Sair Anjum hard to play as well as Basit Javed. The Finns had, at one point, lost eight wickets for just 44 runs, but they managed, towards the end, to creep up to 73 before being all out.
On the pitch next door Norway got off to a terrible start losing their opening batsman on the first ball against Sweden and they were soon 12 for 3. However the Norwegians recovered and soon piled on the runs (remember pitch number two is much smaller)and after 20 overs Norway have scored 193 for eight. Sweden completely collapsed and were all out for 59 after just 10 overs.
In the afternoon Denmark faced Norway who won the toss and chose to bat first. The Norwegian batsmen were obviously more competent, as they found it much easier to play the Danish bowlers. The Danish fielding, however, had lost a gear compared to the morning and a couple of catches were dropped but the wind had picked up which made it more difficult for the fielders to place themselves. Though he Danes were able to keep the Norwegians scoring rate fairly low and wickets began to fall. The highlight of the innings was the final over where the Norwegians were forced to gamble and one witnessed a hat-trick of run outs. Norway's final score was 110 which doesn't sound that much, but the Norwegian bowling was a different class to what the Danes had received earlier. Both opening batsmen were soon out as the Norwegian openers were accurate and moved the ball around. Hamid Shah could only make 17 and as Kasper Rubin was out to unplayable ball without scoring, the Danes were under pressure and the scoring rate was low. However Rizwan Mahmmod (45) stayed his ground and with different partners the Danes soon caught up the scoring rate. But with only four overs left the Danes still needed 30 runs. There was excitement in the air, but some fast running between wickets led to a deficit of 10 runs before the start of the last over. This over was bowled by a completely new bowler and he dropped too many short balls of which one was hit out the ground by Rizwan. That meant the Danes won by four wickets.
On the other pitch Sweden came back into form with a heavy victory over Finland. Sweden scored 176 for 7 and bowled out the Finns for 98.
Sunday saw an early start for both matches as Denmark took on Sweden while Norway faced Finland. Denmark won the toss and decided to bat first. However they were soon in trouble with three wickets down for 20 but this was due more to bad batting than brilliant bowling. Hamid Shah and Kamran Mahmmod got the innings back into shape and took the score to 90 before Hamid fell. A quickfire 31 from 18 balls from Aftab Ahmed got the Danes to 151 for eight in their 20 overs. Aftab Ahmed wasn't finished though, as he carried on, removing five Swedish batsmen in his four overs, leaving the Swedes tottering on 41 for 6. Other bowlers joined in and Sweden were all out for 66.
Norway had no problems with the Finns, as they bowled them out for 56 which they surpassed for the loss of four wickets. The results meant that the final in the afternoon would be between Denmark and Norway while Sweden and Finland would fight for third place.
In a way the final looked liked their first meeting on Saturday though with a difference that Denmark batted first. The Danish batsmen found the Norwegian bowling difficult to play and runs were hard to come by as again wickets fell. This time Hamid Shah came to the rescue and with the help of Jacob Larsen the Danes managed to score 107. It was obvious that the feeling was, this score wasn't enough but when Sair Anjum soon had the opening batsman caught, the enthusiasm and the will for victory was obvious for all to see. Another two quick wickets fell via Anjum and the Norwegians were under heavy pressure. Only F Quresi gave any resistance with 29 but the Norwegian tale held on and slowly they crept closer to the Danish total. The Norwegians were running out of overs so they had to go for the big shots and so the final wickets soon fell, leaving Norway 18 runs short.
On the other pitch Finland managed to score 128 for eight in their 20 overs but it was not enough to withstand a Swedish onslaught as they won by two wickets in 17 overs. So the Danish chairman Thomas Kentorp handed over the cup to the Danish captain Bobby Chawla who was standing in for Michael Pedersen. Thomas thanked all the participants including the umpires for taking part and he looked forward to a repeat performance next time.
It's been a long time since Denmark have won three matches in a row so this was a perfect starting point for next week's tournament in Jersey. As Simon Talbot has stopped as Denmark's national coach, Australian Brett Mulder has taken over and he was very satisfied with the Danish performance as they stuck to the agreed gameplan.