In one of the most exciting finishes seen in Cyprus cricket, Sri Lankans came back from a losing position to beat Mustangs by 2 runs in the 40-over final at Lakatamia on Sunday, in front of a large crowd of mostly Sri Lankan supporters.
Chandana won the toss and chose to bat first, only to lose his first three partners cheaply to Qasim and Happy. But he was then joined in a good recovery by Sugath, who at last found some form with the bat with a battling 35. On the last ball before drinks Chandana played a loose shot and was caught for an excellent 60, leaving the score interestingly balanced at 108 for 4 after 20 overs.
In the second half of the innings the Sri Lankan middle order contributed well, with 38 from Dilan, 24 by Dananjaya and 15 from Kapila, taking the total to 224 all out from 36.3 overs. For Mustangs, Qasim and Happy took 3 wickets each, Rashid and Jassi 2 each, and Dogar held two good catches.
Sri Lankans would have been keen to dismiss danger man Jeewan early, but although Dilan removed his partner Aijaz, Bimal now joined Jeewan in what looked like a match-winning partnership of 101. Both batsmen scored freely with fine attacking shots, and Sri Lankans were forced to turn to their less regular bowlers. This worked, as Bimal, who actually outscored Jeewan, was caught behind by Sugath , standing up to Malka, for 52.
Jeewan continued to bat in his elegant, untroubled style, until the turning point of the match, when he was run out by a great combination between Chandana and Sugath for 79. Chandana was now able to turn back to his main bowlers to try to finish the match, although Mustangs still had plenty of overs and wickets in hand to win if their batsmen could stay at the crease.
Rashid and Jassi made contributions but fell to Suresh, who soon added two more wickets. Ali dug in and tried to farm the strike to see Mustangs home but, with the spectators becoming increasingly excited, Dilan returned to polish off the final two wickets with just two runs to spare.
Trophies, kindly sponsored by Lakatamia Municipality, were awarded to:
Winners: Sri Lankans
Third place: Moufflons
Man of the match: Chandana (Sri Lankans)
Tournament best batsman: Jeewan (Mustangs)
Tournament best bowler: Suresh (Sri Lankans)
Tournament MVP: Chandana
Spirit of cricket award: Ahmad (Mustangs)
Umpiring awards: Manan (Thunder), Tiwary (Punjab Lions), Jahid, Roman (both Nicosia Tigers)