|World Cricket League Division 5, Singapore, February 2012|
Hosts Singapore claim title
Singapore was crowned as the champion of the WCL Div. 5 today after the host defeated Malaysia in the final of the event.
By virtue of reaching the final both sides have been promoted to the Pepsi ICC WCL Div. 4 to be played later this year, the two teams will join Nepal, Tanzania, Denmark and the United States of America in the division.
Winning the final of WCL Div. 5 has also ensured Singapore a rise of three places to 29th in the Global Rankings while runner-up Malaysia has leapt four places from 34th to 30th in the world.
At the marquee fixture of the tournament – Singapore took on local rivals Malaysia in the hotly anticipated final of the event. On the hottest day of the event so far, the teams were watched by at least a 100 supporters of both the local side as well as Malaysia.
Having won the toss, Malaysia captain Suresh Navaratnam elected to bat, a decision he would perhaps later regret after an abysmal batting collapse from the side’s middle order.
Rakesh Madhavan seemed to be the only player to stick around at the crease for some time while his team-mates fell to the Singaporean bowling attack of Chris Janik, Dharmichand Mulewa, Abhiraj Singh and Shoib Razzak.
One of the youngest in the side, Abhiraj ensured Singapore got the start it wanted when the young spinner tempted Malaysian opener Shafiq Sharif to edge the ball into the safe hands of Chetan Suryawanshi.
The visitors struggled against Janik’s legbreak bowling and after Madhavan’s departure the middle-order collapse began with Suhan Alagaratnam, Ahmed Faiz and Anwar Arudin all failing to add to the total. The team ended up being all out for just 159, far too small a total on a ground such as Kallang.
In reply, Singapore always looked confident of chasing down the target and the side had hoped to do so without losing a wicket, but this was not to be with the in-form Suryawanshi departing for 23 after Esrafiq Aziz tempted the player to edge the ball to his counterpart Shafiq in the Malaysia side.
With 46 runs already off the total, Chaminda Ruwan and Anish Param stepped up to the plate, much to the delight of the Singaporean crowd that grew in size post-lunch with the knowledge that the side were set to take home the title.
Chaminda’s skill with the bat was highlighted even more so when the 32-year-old smashed his way to 91 not out in an innings that included 14 boundaries and one six, the man-of-the-match was the second highest run-scorer in the tournament, knocking off some 243 runs during the week. In the support role today after Suryawanshi’s departure was Anish Param, the 21-year-old patiently supporting his senior to guide the team to victory with his 44 not out.
Coach Trevor Chappell was delighted to have worked with the team and once again led them to promotion.
“I am very pleased to have been able to have coached the side to promotion, they’ve worked hard this week and it’s a good group of cricketers from many different backgrounds trying to play as much cricket as they can while also raising families, studying or working full-time.
“There are a few players that have really shone for me this week, looking outside of my own team Jeremy Frith has done well here and managed to score runs against us which he hadn’t been able to do before but obviously I’ve been more focused on my own players performances. I have to say our bowler who has stood out for me is Shoib Razzak, he’s probably my Singapore player of the tournament. Shoib’s worked really hard on his bowling and was one of the top wicket-takers in the whole event.
“The other two that have shone for me are the opening partnership of Chaminda Ruwan and Chetan Suryawanshi – although Chetan needs to work hard on keeping his head out in the middle, it was frustrating today when he got out early and it would have been nice to have not lost a wicket with the win – they both proved very capable batsmen throughout this week and continue to improve in their performances.”
On the opposite side of the coin, Malaysia’s coach Roy Dias said poor batting had let the side down in the event even though it had secured promotion.
“There have been few players that have really performed this week with the bat for us and in my opinion we did well to win the first four matches with the performances we put in.
“I am disappointed we lost today but our batting and bowling wasn’t up to the mark this week at all and I want to go back to Malaysia and look at the pool of players on offer and start to phase out some of the older members of the squad to help the team develop.
“I really expected more from the likes of Suhan Alagaratnam and Ahmed Faiz but perhaps they didn’t have enough match practice ahead of the event. I was pleased with how Sharif Shafiq has performed this week making runs for the side and doing well behind the stumps.
“I’m looking forward to Division 4 and facing my former team Nepal, the whole division is going to be tough for Malaysia but I believe we have got what it takes to be there,” said the former Sri Lanka international batsman turned coach.