Levante CC win by 19 runs
League cricket returned to Valencia in the opening 45 over fixture of the year between Levante Cc and Valencia Stars. The Stars came into this game after beating Levante handsomely in the T20 league and a pre season friendly and were confident of victory. Levante were without six first team players and the Stars were missing the influential Afridi.
Unusually Levante managed to actually win a toss and decided to bat as the early afternoon wind died down and it became warm after a week of pretty horrible weather. Also unusually Levante got off to a really fast start with Damien Garvey and Tony Little putting on 43 in six overs including the rarely seen Little 6, the only six of the Levante innings. In his excitedness Tony then missed a straight yorker, something Valencia Stars bowled really well all afternoon, and his wickets were splattered. Usman came to the crease and along with Damien they decided to start running without calls or any backing up until inevitably Damien was run out by a statuesque Usman with the score on 69. Graham joined Usman at the crease only to watch both Usman and Dave Murphy succumb to excellent disguised balls by Tayyab and Levante were rocking on 69-4.
Azar joined Graham at the crease and decided to edge his way out of trouble finding a lovely four flying past non existent second slip and moving the score onto 90 before again edging to the wicketkeeper and Levante had half the team out for just 90. Graham and Nisar decided to play out time and consolidate with Graham limiting himself to cuts and pushes through the point area and Nisar taking the bad ball to task in a 75 run partnership before Graham fell to one cut too many and Nisar missed a yorker by the impressive Sami. Martin Taylor and Dave Tivey moved the score along sedately adding thirty mostly strolled singles, including the slowest all run four in the history of cricket in which Valencia Stars missed three chances for run outs, until Dave decided to stroll too slowly and was walked out for 19. Pete West followed next ball Yorked again by Khuram.
This was the signal for Martin to come alive and ably supported by Cesare they put on 40 immensely valuable runs before Martin fell for 38 with just two balls of the innings left. Cesare was left unbeaten on 8. The total of 238 was competitive but a good bowling effort was needed.
Tayyab and Mohsin opened for the Stars and they just couldn't get opening bowlers Murphy and Azar away. Just five runs came from the first five overs and the pressure told as Azar got Mohsin for 7 and Tayyab quickly followed for 13. Aman and Asad moved the score along nicely until Pete West appeared and taking pace off the ball bowled a wicket maiden. After 14 overs the Stars were tottering at 63-3 but in came their main batsman Yasir after his 142 last week. Pete's second over could not have been more different as a range of six beautiful shots meant 26 came off the over and we went to drinks at 89-3 with the game in the balance.
Levente knew the chance was there if they managed to keep Yasir away from the strike and held their catches but a spate of catches went down including two in two balls off Tivey until Tivey trapped Aman LBW for 25. Khuram followed for a duck to Nisar and the Stars were wobbling. Yasir then dropped one down Damien's throat at long on and Damien repaid the favour by dropping it to the consternation of the Levante fielders who thought the game might be gone. However on 78 Yasir chased a wider one from Tivey and held out at deep point, Azar taking a great catch straight out of the sun.
Levante smelt blood at drinks with the score on 199-6 but with only 40 runs to play with it was important the bowlers stepped up and the fielders held the catches. Farhan had been playing some fine wristy cut shots and frustrating Levante but Murphy managed to get a Yorker in and cleaned him up. Martin then took a great catch above his head on the boundary to dismiss the dangerous Sami and Nisar a running catch to make it 9 down, both off the bowling of Azar. Tivey came back to finish off the innings with an LBW to a straight one liberating joy from the Levante players and a win by 19 runs
Thanks to the Stars for a good game, umpires Bob and Vince and the whole Levante team in which everyone played a part in a great team performance. Even the pig was gorged with two ducks, six dropped catches and one late appearance. Amunt!