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Phuket Cricket resurrected at the ACG

Phuket Cricket resurrected at the ACG

Michael Flowers13 May - 17:00
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Phuket Cricket resurrected at the ACG

Written by Michael Flowers

In an exhilarating three-match cricket series held at the Alan Cooke Ground (ACG) The Rest of Phuket faced off against The Patong Penguins. The initial two games, each consisting of 20 overs, set the stage for a tense 25-over decider.

The series showcased a newly installed coconut mat pitch, expertly installed by Dixie Joy for the successful 18th edition of the ACST Phuket Cricket Sixes held last month at the ground.

Game 1 Recap:

In the opening match, Penguins captain Seemant Raju won the toss and chose to bowl first. The Rest of Phuket, led by Faraz Khan’s composed 41 off 43 balls, posted a challenging total of 166/4. Despite the Penguins' bowlers showing early season rust and conceding numerous extras, Curt Livermore emerged as the standout bowler, applying some pressure on the batsmen picking up 2 wickets for 22 runs from his 4 overs. The Patong Penguins struggled to keep up with the pace, being bowled out for 137 with eight balls to spare. Lenny Leerdam and Sameer Khan were exceptional for The Rest of Phuket, taking crucial wickets and maintaining tight lines, with Leerdam returning figures of 2 for 19 from his four overs and Khan an impressive 3 for 11 from just two overs. Sameer Khan was deservedly named Man of the Match.

Game 2 Recap:

The Penguins returned with a vengeance in the second match, deciding again to bowl first after winning the toss. Their decision paid off as they rolled The Rest of Phuket for just 104 in 15.1 overs, showcasing a much-improved performance in the field. Anthony Van Blerk, despite having just returned to the field after dislocating his finger behind the stumps, made a remarkable boundary catch to dismiss the dangerous Faraz Khan. Sajal Gaur starred with the ball, claiming 4 wickets for just 14 runs in his four overs, while Livermore and Paddy Ledeboer each took a couple of wickets.

Lenny Leerdam shined for the Rest of Phuket with the ball, picking up 3 wickets for 33 runs from his 4 overs, demonstrating his danger and effectiveness on the new surface. Despite Leerdam's performance, The Penguins, helped by Jagsir Brar’s quick 27 off 14 and Livermore’s unbeaten 24, secured a three-wicket victory with 23 balls to spare. Sajal Gaur was named Man of the Match, highlighting the bowler-friendly nature of the new pitch—a welcome change after years of batting domination.

Decider Match Highlights:

Captain Mayur Deuskar of The Rest of Phuket won the toss and opted to bat, setting the stage for a strong start. Openers Lucky Manhas (28 from 19) and Mandeep Gulati (39 from 25) took an aggressive approach, particularly targeting Penguins' captain Seemant Raju in a notably expensive over. By the 15-over drinks break, The Rest of Phuket had built a solid foundation at 119/3.

With Van Blerk now freed from wicket-keeping duties, he reportedly found inspiration for songwriting mid-match while fielding on the boundary, crafting a tune to the melody of "My Girl"—a lighthearted moment which made fun of him having lost depth perception with the “white ball on a cloudy day”. The song while humorous did not prevent a catch avoidance fine from Waqar Aziz who had hopes of taking a career best three-for.

Ali Khan adjusted his typically aggressive style to craft a patient 29 off 35 balls, while Sameer Khan anchored the innings with an unbeaten 39, helping his team reach a competitive total of 188/7. Curt Livermore, known for his 'highly caffeinated' bowling performances, lived up to his nickname in the decider, delivering an energetic spell of 2/35.

The Penguins’ chase got off to a tumultuous start, with Anthony Van Blerk and Seemant Raju being run out early, leaving them at a precarious 2/7. The clubhouse was abuzz with cheeky comments that Michael Flowers, involved in both runouts, might need to "leave the island" unless he made amends with a significant score of 50.

Man of the Match winner Craig Morgan and Michael Flowers then took center stage, forming a crucial 130-run partnership. Morgan, battling fatigue from his rugby endeavors the previous day, smashed an exhilarating 78 off 40 balls before eventually being caught by Leerdam off the bowling of Sami Pir. The spirit of the match was brightened when ROP Captain Deuskar graciously agreed to an early drinks break due to the heat, illustrating the friendly nature of the series.

The game was clinched with some smart batting from Brar (26 from 20 balls) and Flowers (53* from 74 balls). The match finished with a whimper as penalty runs were awarded for an errant ball striking a fielding helmet allowing the Penguins to secure the series with 2 overs to spare.

Game 3 Scorecard:

Series Extension:

With the weather still cooperating, the current cricket series has been extended, with another match scheduled for this Sunday. The continuation provides an opportunity for more exciting cricket, as the teams look to make the most of the playable conditions before the onset of the wet season.

Further reading