Midi CC made the perfect start to the 2017 season at its new ground in Pouzolles with two emphatic victories – a 137-run defeat of Mansle CC in the expanded South-West Regional League on Sunday, 7 May, which backed up an easy win in the annual friendly against Andorra CC the previous day.
Midi, so used to heartache and pain in its league campaigns, can now travel to Bordeaux next weekend for a first away encounter with confidence high and cheered by the form of the club’s debutants.
Young Bangladeshi batsman Omit Iqbal helped lay the foundation for Midi’s crushing win over Mansle with an opening stand of 78 with Joris Verdaasdonk, who relished the rare opportunity of striding out at the top of the order after Midi won the toss on a blustery, cloudy day.
Omit smashed 75 runs, seven of them sixes, in his 10-over partnership with Verdaasdonk, who compiled 19 runs before being bowled by Rubesh.
Omit’s top score allowed Captain Ankush Lal (20), and two other debutants, Ripu Mohamed (30) and Syed Naeem Abbas (27), the breathing space to take the home team’s score to a formidable 220 for five wickets after 25 overs.
Though Mansle pegged Midi back in the latter stages of the 40-over match with some fine bowling from Captain Remi Rocher and Rubesh Muraleederan, the final score of 288 in 39 overs proved too daunting for the visitors who were rueing their wayward bowling which yielded a frightening 64 wides in an extras total of 85. Thirty of the wides came from boundaries.
Mansle started the run chase slowly and two early wickets had them struggling at 17 for two after seven overs. Captain Rocher’s run out dismissal for the second wicket was bizarre. The ageless Dom George took what looked like a spectacular diving catch at square leg only for the ball to spill out of his hands behind him. Rocher thought he was out, started walking and Ankush Lal taking a throw from wicketkeeper Harshesh Bhatt, who had retrieved the dropped ball, performed the simple task of taking off the bails.
Though opener Rob Tilbury tried to push the score along, after he was dismissed for a top score of 23, no other batsmen made double figures as Mansle slumped to 151 all out in 24 overs. In contrast to Mansle, Midi conceded 30 extras, 23 of them wides.
Ankush followed up on his three wickets against Andorra the previous day with 4 for 39, supported by a late cameo from American import Ken Miller which yielded 2 for 6 in eight balls, one a sharp stumping by Harshesh. Strike bowler Naeem posted figures of 2 for 41 from his seven overs.
Midi’s solid 162-run victory over Andorra CC the previous day was helped in large part by man-of-the-match Ankush who led by example hitting a brilliant 103 not out and taking three wickets for a miserly 11 runs as the home team set a formidable 283 run target in the 40-over match.
The visitors from the tiny Pyrenees Principality, who have made the opening match of the season a regular event on Midi CC’s cricket calendar, had no answer to Midi’s four strike bowlers, Naeem, Louis Parry, Ahsan Uddin and Ankush who had Andorra reeling at 50 for six before a late revival. A solid 30 from tailender Mike Howard pushed the score to a more respectable 120 in 30 overs.
Ankush was the pick of Midi bowlers while debutant Parry, a recent arrival in the Herault from Brighton in the UK, took 2 for 16 and also chipped in with a useful 21 in the Midi innings.
Lucas Zivanovic, a product of Midi’s youth programme, who has now won a regular place in the senior team, was the second top scorer behind Ankush, the young Frenchman spending over an hour at the crease for a well-crafted 25 runs.
The victory over Andorra, an annual game always played in great spirit, provided a good test for the home side ahead of their league match against Mansle.
The new Playrite track which had been laid a fortnight before, played well despite the lack of rain which hampered the setting of the concrete base. A dedicated group led by the new President James Luckes and former President Colin Trickett had toiled for more than a month to lay the foundation for the new track as well as mowing and rolling the huge outfield.
Go to the Midi Cricket Club site on Facebook for a gallery of photos from the weekend matches