Lux­em­bourg cel­e­brate se­ries win over Malta

Malta Independent - - SPORT - Photo: John Rusher

The Malta Cricket team hosted the Lux­em­bourg na­tional team over the week­end, in which the vis­i­tors sealed a se­ries win. After re­cent vic­to­ries over Hun­gary, Rus­sia, Poland, Ro­ma­nia, Bul­garia and the Czech Re­pub­lic; the Malta team were in con­fi­dent mood but missed chances proved costly in all three matches.

Pro­ceed­ings be­gan with Fri­day's open­ing cer­e­mony as both teams stood for their re­spec­tive na­tional an­thems and were greeted by Mr Chris Agius, Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­tary for Re­search, In­no­va­tion, Youth and Sport.

Fri­day T20:

After Lux­em­bourg were sent in to bat, Wil­liam Heath (67) and Tim Barker (31) laid the foun­da­tion for a de­cent score with a sec­ond wicket part­ner­ship of 61 runs.

Vikram Vijh shifted the mo­men­tum in Lux­em­bourg’s favour with seven bound­aries in his 48 runs from only 25 balls.

His cameo cat­a­pulted Lux­em­bourg from 65 in the first 10 overs to a to­tal of 164 for 3 from their al­lot­ted 20 overs.For Malta, An­drew Naudi and Ge­orge Agius took a wicket apiece. Malta’s re­ply lacked the re­quired con­vic­tion and ap­pli­ca­tion.

Cap­tain Now­ell Khosla (27) and An­drew Naudi (22) pro­vided some re­sis­tance but it was to be a con­vinc­ing vic­tory for Lux­em­bourg by 63 runs. Off­spin­ner Chris Fry was the main wicket-taker with 4 for 18 runs.

Satur­day 30 overs:

Lux­em­bourg once again bat­ted first and posted an im­pos­ing 30 over score of 271 for 9, led by Tim Barker (83 off 50) and Vikram Vijh (56 off 32). Opener Joost Mees also contributed a valu­able 42 runs.

The vis­i­tors were par­tic­u­larly se­vere on all of the nine Malta bowlers used. For the home side, Ni­raj Khanna and Feroz Ahmed took 2 wick­ets apiece, John Grima was par­tic­u­larly tidy be­hind the wick­ets and Mark Sacco held two ex­cel­lent catches in the out­field.Malta’s ri­poste be­gan poorly with the early wicket of Sam Aquilina.

Now­ell Khosla (31) and An­drew Naudi (15) saw Malta re­cover to 52 for 1, be­fore both bats­men fell in quick suc­ces­sion. Ni­raj Khanna scored his high­est in­ter­na­tional score (65) as he shared in a 79 run part­ner­ship with Bikram Arora (15).

Lux­em­bourg’s com­pre­hen­sive vic­tory was com­plete as a flurry of Mal­tese wick­ets fol­lowed (6 wick­ets for only 15 runs). Paul Bradley and Ge­orge Agius saw Malta to the close, as they reached a re­spectable score of 158 for 9.

For Lux­em­bourg, young­sters Luka Dacic (2 for 21) and Chris Fry (2 for 27) were the pick of the bowlers. Cap­tain Tony White­man also chipped in with 2 timely wick­ets.

Sun­day 45 overs:

Lux­em­bourg won the toss and elected to bat in the all-im­por­tant 3rd match of the se­ries.

The Malta team were look­ing for some con­so­la­tion after two dis­ap­point­ing losses.

Lux­em­bourg’s bat­ting did not dis­ap­point with con­tri­bu­tions from all their bats­men. Chris Fry (72) and Wil­liam Cope (40) pro­vided a solid base for some late hit­ting by Tim Barker (34 off 18 balls).

Malta’s spin­ners An­drew Naudi and Ron­nie Sacco kept the Lux­em­bourg bat­ting line-up in check through­out the late overs and Malta went into lunch con­tent with re­strict­ing the vis­i­tors to 266 for 7. For Malta, David Marks took 2 wick­ets for 48, while wick­et­keeper Sam Aquilina snared a stump­ing and a catch.

After los­ing Aquilina with the score at 13, Now­ell Khosla and Frank Spiteri set about con­sol­i­dat­ing the Malta in­nings. The pair reached the first drinks break with Malta at 60 for 1 from 15 overs.

By the 30th over, they put on a fur­ther 100 runs and brought up their in­di­vid­ual fifties. After a su­perb 144 run part­ner­ship, Khosla was fi­nally caught in the deep for 70 runs. Ni­raj Khanna joined Spiteri and the pair put on an­other 32 in quick suc­ces­sion be­fore Spiteri was ad­judged LBW just 5 runs short of his cen­tury (95).

With 60 runs re­quired off the fi­nal 10 overs, Malta were still well placed for vic­tory, how­ever the dis­missal of Khanna (25) and Naudi (23) saw the mo­men­tum shift again in Lux­em­bourg’s favour.

The Mal­tese lower or­der failed to see the home side through to vic­tory, fall­ing short by just 18 runs. The bowl­ing hon­ours for Lux­em­bourg went to pace bowler Atif Ka­mal with 2 wick­ets for 28 from his 9 overs, while Vikram Vijh cap­tured 2 for 29.

The se­ries saw Frank Spiteri be­come the first Mal­tese bats­men to pass 1,500 in­ter­na­tional runs while An­drew Naudi be­came Malta’s most capped in­ter­na­tional crick­eter with 55 caps, over­tak­ing Malta’s all­time great all-rounder Michael Caru­ana (53 caps).

At the pre­sen­ta­tion cer­e­mony, Lux­em­bourg cap­tain Tony White­man re­ceived the Win­ner’s Tro­phy, while Chris Fry was voted the Player of the Se­ries with 77 runs and 7 wick­ets.

The na­tional team of Lux­em­bourg

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