St John CC completed a stunning season turnaround to qualify for the semi-finals of the 2019 T20 Cricket Summer League on Saturday morning by a narrow points margin.
Needing a comprehensive win over early season table-toppers Kings Kerala to finish in the Top Four, captain Jurg Hirschi opted to bowl first. His decision was vindicated early on as Luke Bradley removed the dangerous Samuel Sanish before picking up another wicket.
Hirschi himself picked up his 19th wicket of the season while Malta’s George Agius and Jack Baritt took two and three wickets respectively. Basil George top scored for Kings Kerala with 20 runs as his side were bowled out for 94.
In the 2nd innings, Kings Kerala’s sole wicket was taken by Sarath Babu to bowl Sean Byrne for 22 runs. Jaz Cable and Tariq Javed remained not out 27 and 24, with Cable surpassing 200 runs for the season, as St John chased down 94 inside 12 overs.
Marsa CC only needed a point to qualify, making their match against Kerala Tuskers CC a formality. However, Tuskers needed a big win to attempt to surpass St John in fourth on the final day.
With St John picking up 19 points on the final day, Tuskers only managed 17 to finish three points behind the former in fifth.
Bowling first, Waseem Abbas took three early wickets for Marsa as Tuskers looked in trouble early on.
But a half-century from Rahul Nair (his second of the season) and an impressive knock of 43 runs from captain Minesh Mathai helped to settle any Tuskers nerves.
A late blast from Divyes Kumar and Justin George helped their side to 169 for the loss of seven wickets in their 20 overs.
Farhan Masih took two wickets for Marsa. In response, Marsa were restricted to 111/8 as Tuskers’ impressive bowling attack put on another display.
Basil Joy took two wickets to take him to double figures for the season while Divyes Kumar took three wickets. Jaswinder Singh was Marsa’s bright spark with the bat with a score of 32. Marsa end the season third while Tuskers finish outside the play-off positions.
Super Kings CC finished top of the group after their demolition of HSBC Malta CC by 154 runs, the highest margin of victory by any team this season.
Super Kings batted first and did not get off to the best of starts. They had lost five wickets for a score of 56 – Jesu Raj taking two of them.
However, a half-century from Aaftab Khan, his second of the campaign, propelled his side to triple figures. Sandesh Khatri Cheetri and David Marks added some more meaningful runs in the end as Super Kings finished on 162/7.
What followed in the second innings was truly astonishing. Ashok Bishnoi followed up his hat-trick from last weekend by claiming another treble in three balls.
In fact, his hat-trick came in the first three deliveries of the match. Bishnoi then went on to take another three wickets in the match while Marks took two wickets as HSBC Malta were all out for eight runs within 8 overs.
Bishnoi moves on to 19 wickets for the season, tied with Jurg Hirschi from St John CC.
Super Kings CC finish top of the group by 26 points. After losing their first game, they went on a phenomenal seven-match winning streak.
On the contrary, after winning their first match, HSBC Malta CC went on a seven-match losing streak as they end their season 7th in the table.
Punjab XI CC ended their season on a high but will finish the group campaign bottom of the table despite their win over Mater Dei CC.
The latter chose to bat first and put on a score of 147 runs for the loss of 8 wickets. Azeem Sethy and Cornelius Khan were the meaningful contributors with scores of 33 and 32 respectively.
Bipan Kumar added one wicket to his season tally, ending his summer with 14 wickets (only Hirschi and Bishnoi have more than him) while Surinder Singh took two wickets and was involved in a run-out.
Uday Maclean took two early wickets for Mater Dei as Punjab XI had their backs against the wall during their run chase. It was up to Ravinder Singh once again to come to the crease and decide the match for his side as he scored his second half-century of the season and surpassed 200 runs overall in doing so.
Tarjinder Singh wrapped up the victory for Punjab XI with a six in the 19th over. Justin Baxter also took two wickets for Mater Dei as Punjab XI CC won by four wickets. Mater Dei end their season in eighth.
Final League standings: Super Kings 123; Kings Kerala 97; Marsa 96; St John 93; Kerala Tuskers 90; Paddy Power.Betfair 71; HSBC Malta 50; Mater Dei 44; Punjab XI 42.
Saturday – 9.30am
Super Kings CC v St John CC
Sunday – 9.30am
Kings Kerala CC v Marsa CC