With all Malaysia T10 Bash taking place at the beautiful Kinrara Oval and players eager to get back to playing after a five-month enforced break due to the ongoing pandemic, the tournament promised to provide lots of excitement.
The first match of the tournament saw the Western Warriors come up against the Central Smashers, in what promised to be an enthralling curtain-raiser for the tournament. The Western Warriors won the toss and elected to bat; meaning that their opening pair of Sharvin Muniandy and Daniyal Hafeez took to the crease.
The Warriors got off to a fast start, taking 18 runs off the first over. But, as is the nature of T10 cricket, the momentum quickly changed to favour the Smashers. Pavandeep Singh, with his left-arm orthodox bowling, bowled a fantastic over conceding just the one run while taking two vital wickets. The falling wickets, however, did not stop Mohammad Shafiq Sharif from looking to get the scoreboard back moving. The number four batsman came in and scored 27 off 13, in what was a fantastic demonstration of T10 batting. In fact over the course of the Warriors innings, there were a number of fantastic performances, with Fitri Sham (15 off 6) and Rajkumar Rajendran (29 off 12) helping the team to finish on 115/8 from their 10 overs. At first glance, this looked a high total, yet there were some fantastic bowling performances that restricted the Warriors score.
After his fantastic first over, Pavandeep then returned to bowl the 6th over in which he took another wicket and only went for 5 runs meaning he finished with figures of 2-0-6-3. Alongside the performance of Singh was Amir Khan Malik, who deservedly won man of the match due to his mesmerising bowling performance. The right-arm medium pace bowler bowled with fantastic control and accuracy to claim figures of 2-0-9-4. Khan picked up the crucial wickets of Muniandy, Sham & Rajendran, who all looked set to propel the Warriors to a higher score. With the fantastic performance in the field and with the ball it was then over the Smasher’s batsman to chase down the target.
The Smashers got off to a steady start through openers Anwar Arudin and Ajeb Khan. The pair put on 19 for the first wicket partnership, before Khan (5 off 7) was dismissed by the bowling of Arief Yusof when he was caught by Muniandy. Arudin was joined by Ahmad Faiz Mohammad Noor, and the pair set to work chasing down the target.
Both Arudin and Noor looked in impeccable touch, and both seemed to be able to find the boundary with ease but also maintained the ability to rotate the strike when needed. Arudin brought up the first half-century of the tournament scoring 52 off 25 balls before being dismissed by Sham. The wicket, however, did not slow the rate of scoring with Noor refusing to let the bowlers settle. Noor’s key contribution, 34* off 16, helped Central Smashers chased down the target in 9.2 overs, with Ammar Zuhdi Hazalan (15 off 10) remaining the other not out batsman.
After the fantastic run chase in match one, attention then turned to the day’s second game which saw the Southern Hitters and the Northern Strikers, begin their campaign. Much like the start of the first game, the Southern Hitters won the toss and chose to bat. The innings was full of batsmen making useful contributions though nobody pushed on to a big score. But contributions from Bushan Save (27 off 14), Saifullah Malik (20 off 16), Aminuddin Ramly (22 off 11) and Virandeep Singh (20 off 9) helped propel the team to 107/6 off 10 overs.
When the concept of T10 was first launched, some were worried that it would reduce the skill involved with batting and meaning of bowlers variations; but across the T10 leagues, bowlers have consistently proven that they have the skills to adapt to the format. Despite going at over 10 runs per over, there were examples of the Strikers’ bowling attack embracing the challenge and excelling during their performance. Syed Aziz Syed Mubarak (2-1-8-2) bowled a wicket maiden to start proceedings; a feat that is rare in white-ball formats let alone in a T10 match
Moving onto the second innings of the game, and once again there were plenty of momentum swings. After losing two early wickets, Mohamed Imam came to the crease for the Strikers and played a knock which almost took the game away from the Hitters. After the first two overs only going for 13, the third over then went for 11, almost doubling the score, and brought the Strikers back into the game. Jawfer set his sights on getting in the team into a winning position with some clean striking. Striking at 214.29, Jawfer (30 off 14) entertained those watching the online stream until he was run out by their pairing of Mohammad Sulaiman Ali and Saifullah Malik.
Unfortunately for the Strikers, the middle order was unable to get going due to some fantastic bowling performances. Both Vijay Unni (2-0-12-0) and Sulaiman Ali (2-0-12-1) bowled tightly and did not let the opponents score freely. the combination of Suresh and Alu along with Virandeep Singh’s ability to pick up wickets (2-0-15-3) the meant Strikers were able to put together an all-round bowling performance. Some late order hitting from both Mohd Shukri Abdul Rahim and (19 off 10 not out) and Anwar Rahman (14 off 6) provided some late excitement but in the end, the Hitters prevailed. With the Strikers finishing on 99/7 from their 10 overs, the team fell an agonizing 8 runs short of their target.
With the Warriors and the Hitters coming out on top during the first matchday, they must be favourites to continue their good form into the next match day. However, no team looked out of place in the tournament and after one game it is so hard to make any confident judgements about who looks to be favourites for the title.
Despite the game being played with strict regulations to ensure player safety, cricket is again being played in Malaysia, and that is great news for the passionate fans within the country.
The Malaysia T10 Bash fixtures set to take place are:
August 8 [Saturday]
11:00 AM – Southern Hitters v Central Smashers
1:40 PM – Western Warriors v Northern Strikers
5:00 PM – Central Smashers v Northern Strikers
7:40 PM – Southern Hitters v Western Warriors
August 9 [Sunday]
11:00 AM – Semi Final 1 (1st Place v 4th Place)
1:40 PM – Semi Final 2 (2nd Place v 3rd Place)
5:00 PM – 3rd Place Playoff (Loser of SF1 v Loser of SF 2)
7:40 PM – Final (Winner of SF 1 v Winner of SF 2)
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