After losing the first two days of play to torrential rain the likes the city of Valencia had not seen for nearly thirty years the Valencia Smash finally got under way as a triangular round robin event.
Hosts Levante would entertain the Mumbai Jaguars and Jai Ho from the UK and it was the latter two that kicked off the contest.
Jai Ho won the toss and put the team from India into bat. Venting his frustration at the loss of two days play the Jaguars opener Aditya hit the first ball for six and immediately his side were on the front foot. Beligerent hitting continued throughout the innings as the Jaguars posted the formidable total of 254 for 1. Siddarth scored a fine 62 not out but Aditya was the star of the show finishing on 138 not out in a knock that included 18 fours and seven sixes.
In reply Jai Ho struggled from ball one as the opening bowler for the Jaguars Sunny took four wickets for just six runs. Nikket stood alone in thwarting the Jaguars but finally got out near the end of the innings after scoring 101 of his team’s 149 total.
With the 105 run victory the Jaguars entered into the next game with confidence, as they took on the hosts Levante.
The Indian side were shell shocked by the rapid start made by the hosts and soon realised they were in a real contest this time round. Strong man Afridi was the star of the Levante innings hitting 129 in his teams total of 229 for six. For the Indians, Raj was the picking of the bowling, bagging three wickets for 46 from his four overs.
Levante knew from the first game that Aditya would be a major player in the Mumbai innings and they very nearly ran him out with a direct hit from the boundary when the opener was still on nought. That scare focused his concentration and he went on to make a fine 96. However, the game was still very much in the balance as wickets were falling regularly at the other end. Afridi was starring with the ball as well as the bat, taking three wickets in quick succession. However, Sunny also showed he was a good all rounder as he kept his cool to steer his side home with two balls and three wickets to spare.
The final game of the tournament was between Levante and Jai Ho with both sides hoping to avoid the wooden spoon. The hosts batted first and scored 227 for four. Opener Shakeel top scored with 70 and Azhar also hit a fine 65 but it was the unbeaten partnership between Afridi (40 not out) and Rob Pickford (29 not out) that was the cornerstone of the Levante innings.
With the light fading rapidly the floodlights were turned on in time for the Jai Ho innings but they did very little to help the batsmen and fielders alike. Levante resorted to bowling spin which worked very much in their favour as they restricted Jai Ho to 204 for 9. Adam played a fine innings for 43 and Nikket once again showed his class with an unbeaten 41 for the visitors from England.
So the honours went the the Mumbai Indians, with Levante as runners up, and Jai Ho receiving the prize for endeavour.
The Valencia Smash trophy went to Afridi of Levante and his team mate Rob Pickford won the champagne moment award for his astounding diving catch on the boundary against the Jaguars. Nikket went on to claim the batting award for Jai Ho and Sunny picked up the bowling award for his four wickets for six runs against Jai Ho. However, the player of the tournament went to Aditya for his superb 138 not out and his match winning performance of 96 runs against Levante.
Thanks go to the officials for their efforts and the ground staff for their superb teas. Finally, a special mention to the tournament organiser Barry Eaton who worked tirelessly throughout the weekend to make sure once again the Valencia Smash was a tremendous success.
VALENCIA SMASH 2018
1 – JAGUARS P2 W2 L0 D0 POINTS 4
2 – LEVANTE P2 W1 L0 DO POINTS 2
3- JAI HO UK P2 W0 L2 D0 POINTS 0