KUWAIT: The first semi-final of the 18th Prof Ramachandran Memorial Cricket Tournament (RMC) conducted by College of Engineering Trivandrum Alumni Association (CETAA) saw AECK meeting TKM (both former champions).
Opting to bat first, AECK got off to their usual rousing start but when left-handed Shameer (12) fell with the score at 21, TKM managed to slow down the run rate with their steady and determined attack. Only Mahesh (33 – man of the match) kept the score board ticking. Wickets fell at regular intervals mainly due to some brilliant catches and all out for 85 runs in their 15 overs. Much was expected of the strong AECK batting line up but TKM with their all round bowling and excellent fielding I catching restricted AECK to a manageable score. Riju, Rahul, Mukesh (2 wickets each), Sreekumar, Ajmal (1 wicket each) and Anfar bowled their heart out for TKM
In reply, TKM lost Ziad early, but Isaac (16) and Rahul (25) put on 28 runs for the 2nd wicket but could not maintain the required run rate. When the 2nd wicket that of Isaac fell in the 10th over the score was only 33 with the required rate climbing to alarming proportions. And with the AECK bowlers not willing to relinquish their stranglehold, the later TKM batsmen lost their wickets cheaply in an attempt to match the required run rate. TKM could reach only 69 for the loss of 8 wickets at the end of their allotted overs leaving AECK deserving winners by 16 runs.
In the second semifinals between last years finalists, KEA won an important toss and elected to bat but lost opener Govind in the 1st over caught behind of Sandeep without a run on board. Only 10 runs came by the end of the 3rd over. Thereafter KEA took the initiative with TEC unusually being lax in their bowling and fielding. Nithin (57 – man of the match) and Ajin (36 – dropped early on) took control putting away the loose balls and posted the 1st century partnership (108) of the tournament enabling KEA to reach an imposing 121 for the loss of 4 wickets. TEC conceding 23 extras was an indication of their off color performance in the field.
In reply, TEC was never in the hunt after loosing 3 top order batsmen for 8 runs by the 3rd over. Gireesh (30) fought a lone battle but could not break free. TEC were all out for a disappointing 59 runs in the 11th over leaving KEA convincing winners by 62 runs. For KEA, Ajin stood out with 2 magnificent catches in the outfield. And Nasif (3 for 8), Ajin (2 for 8) and Nithin (2 for 1) bowled with purpose spoiling any hopes of TEC making a fight.
In the final on 11th Dec at 8.30 am, it remains to be seen if KEA can turn the tables against AECK who had beaten them convincingly in the league stage. Anyway, a keen contest is on the cards with the prize distribution scheduled for 11 am.