|World Cricket League Division 7 2011 - the captains (from left to right):|
Masaomi Kobayashi (Japan), Hisham Mirza (Kuwait), Akrum Chand (Botswana), Asif Khan (Germany), Damien Shortis (Norway), Endurance Ofem (Nigeria)
Wow here we go. The German cricket team is playing again and I feel as
sick excited as during the first German match I've ever followed. As much as I like Australia, New Zealand and all the others, if your home side is playing your nerves and stomach go absolutely bonkers.
The tournament takes places in the beautiful African country of Botswana, and our opponents are Kuwait, alongside who we got promoted from World Cricket League Division 8, Norway, Japan, Nigeria and the hosting side. I can't say a lot about the other teams, but we have beaten Norway the last three times we played against them, and we still have a bone to pick with the Kuwaitis, who stopped our undefeated run in the final of Div. 8!
There won't be any groups this time, all six teams play each other in the round robin group stage, and the two leaders of the table will get promoted to Div. 6 and play the final against each other. Ranks 3 and 4 retain their place in Div. 7, while the teams 5 and 6 get relegated to Div. 8. Our first goal is of course promotion, but we should just make the best of every match and see where it takes us.
The selectors have largely stuck to the squad from WCL Div. 8, but the return of allrounder Rajeev Vohra, who bowls some handy medium pace, and the addition of the promising young offspinner Ashwin Prakash should strengthen the side further.
Here is some material for you to sink your teeth in, if you like:
Official ICC WCL Div 7 guide with team profiles and so on (PDF)
Interview with the German skipper Asif Khan
Statements from the captains of all participating sides
The André Leslie blog, Part I (the German opening batsman resumes his blogging activities from WCL Div. 8)
A long preview (in English) on the website of Cricket Germany
My posts on WCL Div. 8
[scorecards] [points table] [cricinfo bulletin]
[cricket europe report and post match statements]
|Punjab Power! Rana-Javed Iqbal: 6-25|
Germany v Japan
Hurrah! The first dark horse is out of the way! Germany won convincingly, bowled Japan out in under 50 overs for 146, and chased the total down for the loss of just one wicket, with nearly 20 overs to spare. Phewwww! I am very happy to see both openers, Milan Fernando (47) and André Leslie (59*), come close to 50, and captain Khan finished the innings safely on 27*. On the Japanese side Patrick Giles-Jones, tipped as player to watch in the above mentioned ICC guide to the tournament, played a very lone hand (56*) and tried to help Japan to some kind of recovery, after they had been 12/5 at the beginning.
But back to Germany: bowling-wise medium-pacer Rana-Javed Iqbal took the biscuit with sensational figures of 6-25 from his ten overs, assisted by left-arm quick Ehsan Latif, who added 2-18 to Germany's wicket tally; but the spinners Ashwin Prakash and legreaper Kashif Haider were in the wickets as well. There is the old problem again with the freebies, which our bowlers still have to work on. But apart from that the opening match couldn't have gone any better for us.
Botswana v Kuwait
Our dear friends from Kuwait versus the hosts. Perhaps the word "massacre" describes best what's happened in this match that got reduced to 45 overs per side. Botswana got bundled out for 119 in the space of 40.3 overs, and Kuwait, while coming close to getting bowled out as well(!), chased the total down within 18.4 overs(!!!). What the??? I am shocked, and wondering what might await us in the matches against these two. The young left-arm quick Mohammad Murad is the leading wickettaker for Kuwait once again, while skipper Mirza's run-a-ball half-century carried the Kuwaitis to victory. Kuwait seem to continue their stunningly good form from Div. 8 seamlessly and the way it's shaping up they will be the team to beat again, if they stop throwing their wickets away. But it's early doors and I'm not gonna stick my neck out here, anything can happen.
Nigeria v Norway
Ahh man Norway lost. They are our fellow European representatives and of course I wish them well. But Nigeria posed a too strong opposition for them. Obviously the match got shortened to 43 overs each and Norway had lost all their wickets after the 42nd. Their target of 166 was no problem for the strong Nigerians, they won by 5 wickets with 28 balls left, but it looked an even contest most of the time. But what can you do if your opponent features six players whose last names start with "O"? ;)
Germany play against Nigeria tomorrow, it's another litmus test that will show how well we can handle unknown opposition. I'm hoping for another victory of course and wish the boys good luck. The Nigerian captain did not speak too respectfully of Norway after today's match (see Cricket Europe report linked above), and I hope we can teach him not to underestimate any opponent!
I'm gonna add further material, such as galleries, blogs etc, to this post, as soon as they pop up :)