Brazil National T20 Tournament Concludes

Vince Bastick
Fri, Jun 29, 2012 12:38 AM

Brazil National T20 Tournament Concludes
2012 Champions - Rio De Janeiro Squad
New champions, a last-ball win, great cricket over three days. Brazilian cricket?s interstate championship was decided when the annual Twenty20 tournament was held in Curitiba, 8-10 June. From humble beginnings in 2005, this tournament has developed into a weekend of top quality cricket, contested by teams from four states ? Distrito Federal (DF), Paraná (PR), Rio de Janeiro (RJ) and São Paulo (SP). The latter team had won the five previous tournments, while DF won the first two.
The logistics and costs of getting four state teams together in this huge country are significant. Thanks to the indefatigable Norman Baldwin, president of the Paraná Cricket Association, everything was arranged extraordinarily well, other than the gloomy skies and chilly temperatures.
The HSBC cricket ground, located on the outskirts of the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba, is something of an oasis. Turning off a busy motorway full of rumbling trucks and impressive potholes, you drive through a serene park and finally come to a cricket field surrounded by tall pine trees. It is a wonderful setting.
Six matches in three days were scheduled to decide the T20 champions for 2012.
GAME 1 ? PR v DF
Players from DF and Paraná donned pullovers and undershirts on the Friday afternoon to play the first match of the tournament. The team from the capital chose to bat and it turned out a sound decision as they compiled a score of 4/190. Most of the plundering was done by Paul Davey (92 n.o.) and Simon Kemp (50). The Paraná bowlers struggled to maintain line and length with Chris Johnson (1/29) picking up the best figures. Stormin? Norman Baldwin chipped in with a catch and a lucky run out.
Paraná set about the sizeable target with gusto. Baldwin (39) and AK Southey (30) set up the chase well in the first part of the innings, while Ilyas Baba (49) showed good form with the bat after a long break from cricket. But the DF bowlers did their job well, as did the fielders, limiting their opposition to 7/154. Diogo Seixas, one of 3 national U19 players in the DF team , picked up 3/30 in a terrific spell. Man-of-the-match: Paul Davey.
GAME 2 ? SP v RJ
Touted prematurely by some as the match to decide the tournament, this game began at 9.00am on an overcast Saturday. The star-studded SP batting line-up disintegrated in an extraordinary manner, with only national captain Matt Featherstone (51) reaching double figures. The RJ bowlers, refreshed after a quiet night in, ripped through the Paulistas in 19 overs. Oliver Ballhatchett (3/4) and Rob Wallace (3/13) were at times unplayable, as was Steve Chew (1/4 off his 4 overs). And so the reigning champions were dismissed for a very disappointing 72.
It took the RJ team 17.1 overs to pass the modest target for the loss of six wickets. The opening stand of 24 set up the run-chase well and it was never really in danger. The batsmen paced themselves well despite losing wickets regularly. Doug Gray (14) and Tobias Hanbury (13) were steady at the business end of the chase to help inflict a rare defeat on SP. Sunny Randolph with 2/12 was the pick of their bowlers. Man-of-the-match: Ollie Ballhatchett.

GAME 3 ? DF v RJ
Spectators could have been excused for thinking the same script had been used in this match as the previous one. RJ went into the field, bowled superbly and restricted their oppostion to a miserly total of 9/80. This was the same DF team which had scored 190 the day before in basically the same conditions. Contributions by Vincent Bastick (24 n.o.) and Vinod Kumar (20) reduced the embarrassment to some extent. All the RJ bowlers were in the zone, with Rob Wallace (4/18) and Steve Chew (2/14) earning up the best figures.
The DF team talked up their chances of bowling RJ out, but the smart money was on the Cariocas to win comfortably. And this they did, again in 17 overs, again with a well-paced chase, but with less attrition, finishing with 3/86. Opener Vim Akula?s entertaining innings (46 n.o.) was the highlight for RJ. Arvind Kidambi (0/9) bowled tidily for DF, while Felipe Freire took his first interstate wicket. But the days honours certainly belonged to the RJ team. Men-of-the-match: Vim Akula/Rob Wallace
GAME 4 ? SP v PR
Whether or not it was a collective sub-conscious reaction to having to squeeze in three T20 matches on a winter?s day, PR followed in the doomed steps of the two teams that had batted first earlier that day. A revved up SP team dismissed the southerners for 71 in 14 overs. Stephen Green (18 n.o.) and Hammad Durrani (13) showed some resistance, Jeetu Khemani hit a big six, but the remainder of the scorecard, as Michael Holding is fond of saying, looked like a telephone number. The five SP bowlers all snared wickets. Sajid (2/9) and Warwick Heaney (2/10) were the pick of them.
And so SP were now set the same total as they had reached in losing to RJ some five hours earlier. This time they made no fuss and reached 1/76 in the 13th over. Openers Prashant (32) and John ?Poet? Milton (9 n.o.) doused any PR hopes with a solid opening stand, then Sunny Randolph came on to hit a few sixes to finish off the match. PR bowlers Jeetu Khemani and Patrick Reason were economical but wickets were required and they were hard to come by. Man-of-the-match: Niranjan Prashant
GAME 5 ? DF v SP
Day 3 of the T20 dawned cold and cloudy, when a game of football seemed more likely than one of cricket. However, the men in white were there to play no matter what. SP won the toss and elected to bat. The DF bowlers were apparently using a basketball because the SP bats smashed it to all parts of the ground and the encircling forest to reach the daunting total of 7/193. As he had on several occasions in previous T20s, Greigor ?Guru? Caisley swung the willow to great effect to reach 85. He offered a few chances which the DF fielders declined to accept. Captain Featherstone hobbled his way to 36, while Warwick Heaney helped himself to 30. Diogo Seixas picked up his second three wicket haul, while Alexandre Miziara bowled very well to grab 2/22.
The DF batting order was shuffled around and was dealt out openers Miziara and Victor Poubel. This pair set off at a terrific pace, scoring the required 10 runs per over until Poubel (20) holed out on the boundary. Paul Davey came to the crease and his partnership with Miziara was also very productive. They both fell for 49, which left the match in a fascinating and precarious state. With 50 runs still required from the last five overs, Anthony Joseph and his bandana strode to the crease and immediately swung his bat at anything within reach. Cameos from Vinod Kumar and Felipe Freire promoted the DF cause, while the SP players chewed their fingernails and hollered encouragement to their increasingly nervous bowlers. With an over to go and 12 to win, Arvind Kidambi joined Joseph in the middle. Each ball produced runs until there were two runs needed off the last ball for a DF win, or one for a tie, or a wicket or dot ball for a SP win. Kidambi somehow got bat on ball, the pair sprinted the first, Kidambi fell at the bowlers end, scrambled to his feet, ran and slid his way back the 20 metres and made his ground milliseconds before the run out could be made. DF won a memorable match, arguably the best the Brasil T20 tournament has seen in its history. Man-of-the-match: Alexandre Miziara
GAME 6 ? RJ v PR
As Game 5 finished, the rain started with intent and refused to ease off. So the final match was abandoned without a ball being bowled. Both teams received a point. As a result, the team from RIO DE JANEIRO was declared BRASIL T20 CHAMPIONS 2012.
Player of the tournament went to the promising junior player from DF, Diogo Seixas.

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