Zambia T10 League opening weekend roundup

Zambia Cricket League

This weekend saw franchise T10 cricket arrive in Zambia. The first two matchdays of the tournament have now been concluded and indications about previous the unknown are becoming clearer.

This tournament provides a fantastic opportunity for the Zambia Cricket Union to not only showcase the stunning Lotus Sports Ground Club but allow the talent within the country to be seen and admired across the globe thanks to the tournament being broadcast on television and streamed across digital platforms.

Here is what the first two days of action have taught us about the teams competing and how the rest of the tournament may shape up:

Kitwe Kings

Squad: Himal Patel (C), Chetan Reddy (VC), Azhar Bangliwala (WK), Madhawa Kawsha, Azhar Haveliwala, Sarfraz Nomani, Vasim Akram, Joyeb Chand, Bharat Kara, Mahroof Patel, Ayaz Dadabhai, Sanjay Patel, Mohsin Abdhul Hayat, Titus Fernando, Warna Peiris and Bharat Kara.

Results so far:

Victory against the Lusaka Heats by 6 runs
Defeat against the Ndola Blitz by 4 wickets
Defeat against the Kabwe Stars by 6 wickets
Victory against the Ndola Blitz by 10 wickets

Having won the first game of the competition against Lusaka Heat, the Kings made their intentions clear within the competition.

In the first game, both Joyeb Chand and Azhar Haveliwala announced themselves in the tournament with the majority of the plaudits going to Chand for scoring a man of the match 35 off 18 balls to kick the tournament off.

But after their initial success, the Kings appeared to become unstuck. During their first encounter with the Blitz, the Kings lost despite a good inning from Madhawa Kawwsha, an enterprising 36 off 28, and some fantastic bowling performances from both Joyeb Chand (2-0-13-1) and Bharat Kara (2-0-11-1). The loss can be partly put down to a fantastic inning from James Green who scored an enthralling 41 off 15 balls to help the Blitz over the line in a game they initially looked out of.

Against the Stars, the Kings were unable to defend an initially imposing score of 95. This first innings score included a fine example of T10 batting from the Kings’ captain Himal Patel who scored 48 no off 30 balls, with credit also needing to go to Madhawa Kawsha for his 26 off 14 balls. But again some fine batting from the stars prevented another Kings’ win, but mention should go to Azhar Haveliwala for his spell (2-0-17-1).

Come the final action of the first two matchdays and the Kings came up against the Blitz for the second time but this time there was not to be a repeat result. The Kings won the game convincing by 10 wickets in what has to be one of the most comprehensive of team performances of the weekend. A clinical first-innings bowling performance by the Kings, with crucial control shown by the entire bowling attack, limited the Blitz to 77/6 off their 10 overs. To start the second innings, there was a change in tactics from the Kings with Azhar Bangliwala being promoted to open the batting; a change which proved to be a masterstroke. Bangliwala strode to the crease and scored an unbeaten 47 off 28 balls with his opening partner Madhawa Kawsha also remaining unbeaten scoring 21 off 16 balls to take the Kings to an emphatic victory.

Looking at the Kings for the next round of matches, hopefully, they will be able to hold onto the momentum after their victory over the Blitz. It looks as if the new opening partnership between Bangliwala and Kawsha changed the fortunes of the Kings and it will be interesting to see whether this change remains in place or whether they will revert to the original partnership of Sarfraz Nomani & Kawsha. If the Kings are to win more games, it would appear that there is a need for some more rounded team performances. Currently, there are some individual fantastic performances being seen but it was really in the last game against the Blitz did the entire team fire. But it will be interesting to watch their progression through the tournament if we are to witness more consistent overall team performances.

Kabwe Stars

Squad: Joseph Chinunga (C), Godfrey Kandela (VC), Isaac Mwaba (WK), Allan Nsesha (WK), Gladson Kandela, Kanswe Omala, Tausif Panchibaya, Madaliso Mvula, Mohammade Baidu, Mohsin Agaz, Tapson Nyirongo, Ashraf Lulat, Lawrence Mutale, Zakir Patel, James Zimba

Results so far:

Defeat against the Blitz by 8 wickets
Defeat against the Heats by 24 runs
Victory against the Kings by 6 wickets
Victory against the Heats by 5 wickets

Two defeats upfront for the Stars must have sent some worries through their camp but then victory from their two games on Sunday has completely changed their fortunes and means that they are still in the Hunt.

In the first game against the Blitz, batting line up struggled with the team managing a collective 64 from their 10 overs. There was simply not enough runs on the board for the team to defend but this did not mean that the Stars bowling attack didn’t put up a fight. Highly skilled and economic spells from both Gladson Kandela (2-0-6-1) and Tausif Panchibaya (2-0-13-1) were extremely gutsy performances and meant that the Blitz had to wait until the 9th over (8.2) to complete the victory.

In the second game, the Stars came up against a strong Heats batting unit and were unfortunately outplayed. The Heats scored a match-winning first innings score of 113/5 from their 10 overs, but this is not to say that there were some strong performances from the bowling unit. In such a high scoring first innings, Tapson Nyirongo should hold his head high with his bowling performance with figures of 2-0-13-0 and Gladson Kandela once again had a solid performance with the ball in hand (2-0-16-1). The stars batting was also much improved in their second game despite the loss, finishing on 89/4 from their 10 overs, with an almost meteoric performance from Isaac Mwaba who unfortunately retired hurt after scoring 41 off 19 balls. Who knows what may have happened if Mwaba was able to continue his innings.

But as aforementioned, during the second matchday, the Stars looked like a newly refreshed team. In their first game of matchday two the stars game up against the Kitwe Kings. The Kings scored 95/4 from their 10 overs, with strong performances from Mohsin Agaz (2-0-11-1) and James Zimba (1-0-4-0) with ball in hand. The target of 95 may have previously seemed out of reach for the Stars but this was not to be the case. Both Ashraf Lulat (24 off 12 balls), Godfrey Kandela (34 off 23 balls not out) and Mohammade Baidu (20 off 8 balls) all played crucial roles in helping their team to their first victory. The final game for the Stars was against the Heats, who in their first meeting scored 113 against them.

But the Stars this time were able to overcome the Heat with a much more economic bowling performance. Once again the bowling pair of Gladson Kandela (2-0-8-3) and Tausif Panchibaya (2-0-4-3) returned mesmerizing statistics with the bowling unit restricting the Heats to 63/8 from their 10 overs. The chase was completed at the 8.4 over mark with Lulat (20 off 13 balls), Agaz (14 off 8 not out) and Baidu (9 off 4 not out) were all able to contribute towards the Stars victory. 

Overall, the Stars are not in a bad position going into the next round of fixtures with two losses and two victories, however, there is a clear need for the batting unit of the Stars to step up to the plate. The bowling of the Stars has been exquisite to watch with there being some star performances with the ball. Gladson Kandela with his exploits with bat and ball has cemented his place as one of the best performers of the first two rounds of competition and definitely one to watch. But the batting of Stars has not been up to the same level and with some tough games to come the batting unit need to come up with a strategy to get the required runs on the board. But there is hope for the team to progress further; if the team are able to hit the ground running and win their first game back during the next matchday then watch out. Any team that has such a potent bowling unit can be a dangerous squad to face no matter the format. 

Zambia Cricket League

Lusaka Heats

Squad: Mukesh Medium (C), Ashish Desai (VC), Mehul Patel (WK), Viswanadha Mudunuri, Mohammed Sohel Kadva, Aditya Kelkar, Deepak Siroya Bowler, Javid Patel, Nainesh Patel, Hashmi Sayyed, Nitin Jesani, Sebaj Patel, Babu Hayden, Manoj Patel and Irfan Galiya. 

Results so far:

Defeat against the Kings by 6 wickets
Victory against the Stars by 24 runs
Defeat against the Blitz by 9 wickets
Defeat against the Stars by 5 wickets

Defeat in the first game against the Kings set an unfortunate tone for the rest of the early stage of the competition. The Heats bowling first, unfortunately, Joyeb Chand who turned the game on its head with 35 off 18 balls. But there were also signs of positivity from the Heats camp with fantastic bowling performances from Ashish Desai (2-0-8-0) and Deepak Siroya (2-0-12-3). Thee chase presented a lot of potential with the team scoring 93/5 from their 10 overs but ultimately came up short with Mohammed Kadva scoring 35 off 21 balls and Aditya Kelkar scoring 25 from 14 balls. The second game appears to be a statistical anomaly for the Heats and a game where everything fell beautifully into place. The Heats posted the highest score of the two matchdays with a monstrous total of 113/5 from their 10 overs. There were contributions from the entire batting order with scores from Nitin Jesani (39 off 19 balls), Mohammed Kadva (22 off 21 balls), Javid Patel (22 off 10 balls) and Aditya Kelkar (15 off 8 balls) taken the Heats to their final total. The Heats were able to defend their score without allowing the Stars to build any real momentum. This was in part due to fantastically economic spells from

Nitin Jesani (2-0-12-1) and Mohammed Kadva (2-0-11-0). In their third game, the Heats came up against the Blitz and scored 86/8 from their 10 overs, once again there was a fine performance with the bat from Kadva who scored 26 off 19 balls. However, the score was chased down by the Blitz giving the Heats their second defeat of the tournament. Viswanadha Mudunuri bowled the most economic over for the Heats with figures of 1-0-6-0. In their fourth game, unfortunately the Heats struggled to get going with the bat finishing with 63/8 from their 10 overs with only Sebaj Patel the only batsmen to get into double figures (14 off 13 balls). In an attempt to defend the low score, the entire bowling unit performed to a high level with Nitin Jesani again gaining plaudits for his performance with figures of 2-0-9-0 and Javid Patel earning the fantastic figures of 2-0-10-2. But unfortunately, the performance from the batting unit underwhelmed the fantastic performance from the bowlers.

The Heats will need a quick change of fortunes if they are able to go through to the next round of the tournament. It would appear to be a case where the Heats batsmen are required to perform more consistently if the team are going to be able to perform and compete; this is of course despite the team scoring the highest total of the tournament so far. We know that the Heats have batsmen, and the bowing performances during the tournament have been very strong but are they able to put it all together in the next round of fixtures to compete? This is left to be seen during the next match day.

Ndola Blitz

Squad: Robert Rogers (C), James Squire (VC), Connor Fletcher (WK), Chris Mai, Calion Harris, James Badcock, Aiden Hawksworth, Keyle Russel, James Green, Devan Cowley, Oliver Snart, Thomas vermaark, Richard Parker, Greg Geldenhuys and Craig Stow.

Results so far:

Victory against the Stars by 8 wickets
Victory against the Kings by 4 wickets
Victory against the Heats by 9 wickets
Defeat against the Kings by 10 wickets

Everything was looking fantastic for the Blitz up until the last game of the first two round of fixtures but appear to be the team to watch in the competition.

In their first game, the team limited the stars to 64/6 from their 10 overs with fantastic bowling performances from the entire bowling unit, including James Green (2-0-8-0), Aiden Hawksworth (2-0-10-2), Richard Parker (2-0-16-2) and Craig Stow (2-0-10-2). Then the team were able to chase down their target only 2 wickets down with Connor Fletcher (24 off 11 balls) and Calion Harris (29 off 24 balls) removing any first game nerves.

The next game against the Kings, however, was definitely one for the neutral as the Blitz were staring down the barrel of a defeat until an almost superhero-like effort from James Green. Bowling first the Kings scored 86/6 from their 10 overs with notable performances from Craig Stow (2-0-14-1), Oliver Snart (1-0-3-0) and man of the match James Green (2-0-14-1). But it was with the bat the Green really shined, with his team 41-5 Green walked in staring at the barrel of a defeat. But some confident and long-range hitting Green was able to score 41 off 15 balls to take his side over the line.

The Blitz once again showed their quality against the Heats with a victory that showed the hallmarks of potential champions. The Blitz were set a target of 86 against the Heat with another strong bowling performance from the team, including James Green (2-0-8-2) once again who must be in the running for player of the tournament already and Craig Stow (2-0-14-1). The quality of the bowling for the Blitz appeared to be matched by the quality of their batting and seem to be the most rounded team in the competition. Connor Fletcher hit the first half-century of the competition whilst remaining unbeaten (51 off 29 balls) and lead the way for the strong batting unit of the Blitz with Aiden Hawksworth also making a crucial contribution (23 off 18 balls).

But in the final game for the Blitz in this round of matches, there came the shock of the early rounds with the team that had been so dominant becoming unstuck against the Kings. But this was not just any defeat, it was a defeat by 10 wickets meaning it was the largest defeat of the competition so far. The Blitz scored 77/6 from their 10 overs which in other Kings games would have been a tough total for them to chase. Once again Fletcher (24 off 14 balls) and Green (30 off 18 balls) kept up their fine form in the tournament. But then compared to previous games the Blitz bowling attack was not able to make their mark against the Kings the second time around and unable to pick up a wicket. However Chetan Reddy bowled well and the performance should not be forgotten in the defeat with the figures of (2-0-11-0).

The interesting factor regarding the Blitz is whether or not the team will be able to bounce back after their first defeat. The team before then look impervious and they will need to shake off any nerves and ensure that they go out there and show their clear quality in the remaining rounds of the tournament. There are no secrets that from the early showing that the Blitz are the favourites for the competition but will they be able to live up to this tag? Time will surely tell.

Next weekend’s fixtures:

In this fantastic competition, it is clear that talent and quality exists throughout Zambia and that anybody has the potential to win. There is truly the makings of an exciting tournament and the next rounds will be eagerly awaited.

July 11, Saturday

Kitwe Kings vs Kabwe Stars at 12:00 PM
Lusaka Heats vs Ndola Blitz at 02:00 PM
Kabwe Stars vs Ndola Blitz at 04:00 PM
Lusaka Heats vs Kitwe Kings at 06:00 PM

Qualifier: July 12, Sunday

Teams: G1 vs G2 at 12:00 PM

Eliminator: July 12, Sunday

Teams: Loser of Qualifier vs G3 at 02:00 PM

Final: July 12, Sunday

Teams: Winner of Qualifier vs Winner of Eliminator at 5:30 PM

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