Phuket Cricket was divided into height last Sunday with a battle of the Giants and the Dwarves fought out at the ACG in a 30 Over Match.
A few late withdrawals left the favored Dwarves short-handed but with the in-form Justin Swart in the lineup, the game still seemed to be an even contest.
Giant Captain Tony Van Blerk won the toss and elected to bat sending in experienced openers in the form of the left-handed Dan Nicholson and Phuket Cricket stalwart Seemant Raju to face the Dwarves opening attack.
The pair got the Giants off to a terrific start as Nicholson rotated the strike beautifully to Raju who smashed the ball for 7 boundaries on his way to a quick fire 39(24) when he was caught by Mushtaq from the bowling of Swart with the score on 69 after just 6.3 Overs.
Swart quickly struck again bowling Stuart Hamilton 3(6) but that brought Joe Ninan to the crease who has been playing fantastically well this year.
Nicholson and Ninan combined for a 45-run partnership as the Giants managed to slow the run rate and the Giants went for drinks at the 15-Over mark at 119-2.
3 Balls after drinks Sameer Kahn beat the defenses of Nicholson for a well played 37(43) which brought in the stroke maker, Paul Judge.
Paul played immediately with aggressive intent as he and Ninan once again got the scoreboard moving in a hurry with both boundaries and terrific running between wickets fueling the Dwarves frustrations.
The pair combined for a 75-run partnership in less than 7 Overs boosting the score to 196-4 after 22.2 Overs when Paul was trapped in front by leg spinner Curt Livermore.
Ninan 102(64) continued the onslaught in the latter stages along with the departing and in-form Shivam Bhattacharya 39(21). Ninan who reached his maiden Phuket century in quick time was well caught by Waseem Musa on the square-leg boundary off the bowling of the opening Mushtaq returning for a spell at the death. The damage had already been done however as the pair put up a 97-run partnership to eventually leave the Dwarves with a very challenging target of 300 to win at 10 runs per over. Livermore was the pick of the bowlers with 3/46 from 5 Overs.
The Giant opening bowlers Bhattacharya and Sajal Gaur combined for one of the best opening bowling spells in recent memory as they went up against the very capable combination of Mushtaq and S Kahn with a very quick outfield to manage.
At the 5 Over mark, the score had only reached 18 and Mushtaq 1(8) was already back in the clubhouse after a cracking reflex catch at cover by Nicholson from the bowling of Gaur.
The incoming Swart waited little time in beginning his efforts in increasing the pace as the required rate had already become very challenging. Swart punished any and all deliveries angled down the left handers leg side.
Unfortunately, Kahn 37(47) was the only batsman able to provide support for the impressive Swart and with the dismissal of Pir Sami 6(7) in the 22nd over the Dwarf tail had been exposed and the run chase was abandoned.
Swart was finally dismissed for a scintillating 126(63), already his 3rd ton of the year, by the reemergent Raju who troubled Swart with a slower ball before beating his defenses to end the excellent innings.
The Dwarves captain, Neil Quail 16*(16) playing with a sore thumb after a fielding mishap, played a nice little cameo in his first game in many months as he came out as the last to bat to join Jaskaran Ahluwalia 6*(11). The Dwarves chances had long evaporated however as they found eventually found themselves 59-runs short of victory.
Raju (6 Overs, 4 for 61) and Gaur (4 Overs, 1 for 10) were the pick of the Giant bowlers.
Centurion Ninan was awarded the Man of the Match by the umpire for his big innings which set up the match and his Giants have taken a 1-0 series lead in the best of 3-game series which will resume at a later date.
Pictured: Ninan was able to celebrate victory as he completed the match by bowling his first and only over.
Article written by: Michael Flowers
Umpire/Scorer: Michael Flowers