The Luxembourg cricket team traveled to Malta on Wednesday 4 October to play a T20 tournament against the Malta and Hungary team.
The tournament had 4 matches for Luxembourg team playing against Hungary and Malta twice. Luxembourg and Malta had met last year for a 3-match series which Luxembourg won 3-0, so the team was determined to repeat the performance. However, a good start of the tournament was marred by constant rain on Wednesday and Thursday. The first game on Thursday (Luxembourg vs Malta) was abandoned due to unplayable conditions. Unsurprisingly, the hosts observed that it was 4th match cancelled in last 8 years on Malta ground.
The Luxembourg team was back in action on Friday though, playing a game against Hungary in the morning and two back-to-back on Saturday against both Hungary and Malta. The Luxembourg team lost the first game to Hungary on Friday but came back strongly on Saturday to win both games. As a result, Luxembourg ended on 2nd position in points table and ended the tour on a good note. Hungary took top spot.
Friday (Luxembourg Vs Hungary)
Luxembourg won the toss and decided to bowl first. Luka Galliver and Mohit Dixit opened the bowling and found it hard to break through the opening partnership. Soon mystery leg spinner Vishwajeet Deshpande was brought in and the move worked as both openers were removed in quick succession by Vishy and Mohit. However, the tide turned against Luxembourg with some below par fielding as Stan Ahuja (41) and Zeeshan Khan (39) stitched together a 3rd wicket partnership of 59 runs to frustrate Luxembourg bowlers. Despite taking wickets in regular intervals, Hungary ended with a par score of 151-5 with one wicket each to Atif Kamal, Akhilesh Kumar, Mohit Dixit and two wickets for Vishwajeet Deshpande. The run chase started as planned with Girish (19) and Reinhardt Heyns (9) blasting 25 runs in first 3 overs. Soon after, Luxembourg lost 3 wickets quickly to end up on 46-3 in 8 overs. Atif Kamal (22) and Mohit Dixit (21) stitched together a quick 41 run partnership to keep up with the required run-rate. However, the loss of a further 3 wickets at 88-6 (13 overs) meant the chase to the Hungary score would be difficult. Skipper Tony Whiteman (20) and Vishwajeet Deshpande (12) tried to keep up with the rate with some big hitting but the team fell short by 17 runs. In the process, without a helmet, Akhilesh Kumar received a fast paced delivery on the chin and was soon rushed to hospital. Everything was fine with Akhilesh and like Akhilesh, the team took it on the chin with strong resolve to perform better next day.
Saturday (Luxembourg Vs Malta)
Luxembourg won the toss and elected to bat first. Luxembourg lost 3 wickets in getting to 29 runs off 6 overs before skipper Tony Whiteman (72*) and Atif Kamal (44) crafted a brilliant 84 run partnership to save the team from collapse. After Atif’s departure, Tony took up the big hitting responsibility along with Mohit Dixit (23*). The team scored a respectable 165-4 after 20 overs. Richard Neale and Vishwajeet Deshpande opened the bowling and the Maltese batters found it difficult to hit it out of the ground with long straight boundaries and good fielding. Atif Kamal and Mohit Dixit continued the tight line and length to further aggravate the situation for Malta. Apart from Nowell Khosla (68), none of the other batters got going as Girish Venkateswaran removed the top scorer with a beautiful delivery. Luxembourg won by 39 runs with Girish Venkateswaran prizing two wickets and Atif Kamal, Luka Galliver, Richard Neale, Mohit Dixit getting one wicket each.
Saturday (Luxembourg Vs Hungary)
With strong determination to perform better against Hungary compared to the Friday game. Luxembourg lost the toss and were asked to bat. Ankit Parate (8) and Reinhardt Heyns (48) opened the innings and started smashing the ball from the start. After losing Ankit and Richard Neale, Reinhardt along with Hendrik Bruwer (21) hit a quick 41 run partnership to end up at 94-2 (12 overs). After Reinhardt’s departure, the team kept losing wickets at regular intervals with only Mohit Dixit(29*) sticking around. However, each incoming batsman kept scoring quickly and the team ended up at 159 all out (19.5 overs). The highlight was a 5 ball stay of Girish Venkateswaran (14) consisting of two big sixes with one over cover off his first ball almost smashing a car window in the parking lot. While defending for the second time in the day, the team again started well, Atif Kamal and Richard Neale bowling in tandem to restrict the potential big hitting from the Hungarian batsman. Atif managed to get two wickets, one with a probing bouncer and second, an excellent caught and bowled. The mystery leg spinner Vishwajeet Deshpande (3 wickets) and Mohit Dixit (2 wickets) came on picked up wickets quickly assisted by some superb catching by Lux fielders. Ankit Parate, Prashant Chandrasekar and skipper Tony Whiteman came in afterwards to finish off the tail getting one wicket each. Luxembourg won by 54 runs to finish the tour on a high note followed by jubilant celebrations on the last evening of the tour.