The Malta Cricket team hosted the Hungary national cricket team last weekend, going on to seal a 2-1 series win and consolidate its excellent record in the newly formed European Development Cricket League.
Thu 1 Oct - T20
Malta 163-6 (Chellew 45, Majeed 30; Z.Khan 5-11) beat
Hungary 113-9 (S.Khan 25; Arora 3-15) by 50 runs
Fri 2 Oct - T20
Hungary 151-6 (S.Ahuja 50, M Ahuja 48; Mehta 1-12) beat
Malta 133 (Majeed 36, Zold 4-9) by 18 runs
Sun 4 Oct – 50 overs
Malta 124-1 (Chellew 62*, F.Spiteri 26*, Z.Khan 1-26) beat
Hungary 123 (S.Ahuja 44; Mehta 4-14) by 9 wickets
Umpires: Alan Swift, Les White, Joy Ghoseroy
Scorers: Eric Balakrishnan & Colin Jones
From their last 12 internationals, Malta have won an impressive 10 matches and lost only two. The victories over Hungary added to recent triumphs over Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic.
Thursday’s opening ceremony started under threatening skies with both teams greeted by Chris Agius, Parliamentary Secretary for Research, Innovation, Youth and Sport. The first T20 international was Andrew Naudi’s 50th appearance for the Malta national team, second only to Michael Caruana (53 caps).
Batting first, Malta’s captain Nowell Khosla (21) and Chris Chellew (45) put on 59 runs for the first wicket.
Frank Spiteri (12), Ronnie Sacco (13) and a quickfire 30 runs off only 16 balls from Haroon Majeed saw Malta reach an imposing 163 runs from their allotted 20 overs.
For Hungary, quick bowler Zeeshan Khan captured five wickets for 11 runs. In reply, Hungary lost early wickets to Andrew Naudi and George Agius with the rest falling at regular intervals before they closed their 20 overs 50 runs short, on 113 for nine.
Shiraz Khan top scored with 25 runs. Malta’s bowlers and fielders restricted Hungary throughout and the bowling honours went to Bikram Arora and Parth Mehta (three wickets each).
Malta’s keeper Sam Aquilina effected two stumpings and a catch while Mark Sacco, Chris Chellew and Haroon Majeed took three excellent outfield catches.
Friday’s second T20 began after a warm welcome from Malta Olympic Committee President, Julian Pace Bonello.
It was an improved batting performance by the Hungarians with Marc and Stan Ahuja scoring 48 and 51 respectively. The pair combined in an 86-run partnership off only 13 overs.
The Hungarians were especially severe on the Maltese bowling during the middle overs and seven sixes catapulted them to a competitive total of 151 runs for six.
For Malta, Naudi, Khosla and Mehta took a wicket apiece. The Maltese run chase stuttered throughout and the run outs of Khosla (8) and Naudi (4) were particularly costly to the home side’s hopes.
Following the dismissal of Niraj Khanna for 15, a fighting partnership between Majeed (36) and Mehta (24) brought Malta back into the contest.
However, the demise of Ronnie Sacco, Sam Aquilina and Malcolm Crabbe signaled the end for Malta as they were bowled out for 133, handing victory to Hungary by 18 runs.
Sunday’s third and final match in the series was a 50-over One-Day International.
Proceedings started early with Hungary electing to bat. A more focused and disciplined effort in the field by Malta saw Hungary dismissed for only 123 runs in 40.5 overs.
It was once again Stan Ahuja (44 runs) who held the Hungarian batting line-up together. Like Thursday, it was a real team effort by Malta and Parth Mehta (four for 14) was well supported by all the other Malta bowlers.
The home team’s reply began briskly with Nowell Khosla striking four early boundaries before he was clean bowled by fast bowler Zeeshan Khan.
Following the lunchtime presentation by H.E. Jane Lambert, the Australian High Commissioner to Malta, Frank Spiteri and Chris Chellew added an unbeaten 85 runs which sealed the victory for Malta with 27 overs to spare.
Chellew’s 62 made him the top run-scorer in the series, while Spiteri’s 26 runs made him the first Maltese batsmen to pass 1,500 international runs for his country.
On Sunday evening a presentation dinner was held at the Marsa Sports Club with the awards presented as follows:
Man of the Series: P. Mehta (Malta)
Best Batsman: S. Ahuja (Hungary)
Best Bowler: Z. Khan (Hungary)
This brought to an end a very successful weekend for Malta Cricket and the three-day event also raised a generous amount in aid of the Malta Community Chest Fund.
This weekend sees the Marsa Representative team host Thornton Cricket Club from Yorkshire (UK).
Matches at the Marsa Sports Club will start at 11am on Saturday and Sunday.
© Cricket World 2015