A heavy tropical storm in the morning and a forecast of rain throughout the day created doubts about whether the match would could even be played.
But patience by the players and officials paid dividends, and after a break in the rain the match finally got underway – albeit in less than ideal conditions, which gradually improved through the day to allow for a fantastic finals spectacle.
Laguna, the defending JLL league champions, batted first and got off to a terrible start. They were looking at an early end to the day but dug deep to post a defendable total of 165 runs against a very slick Patong bowling and fielding display.
With the weather improving in the afternoon, the Patong side looked to be cruising to a comfortable victory, with only three wickets down and just 34 runs required to reach their target.
However, cricket can be a funny old game and, as they say, “It ain’t over until the fat lady sings”.
With Patong on the brink of victory and Laguna looking like they would not be able to defend their league title, the Laguna bowlers – through their opening pace man, Sami Ullah – ripped the heart out of the Patong innings with one of the best displays of pace bowling ever seen at the ACG.
In just two overs he decimated Patong’s batsmen, picking up 5 wickets for 6 runs, creating a platform for a stunning victory by the defending league champions.
For an unfortunate and disappointed Patong side, who have been consistent all season, their last 7 wickets fell for just 9 runs, and they ended all out for 141 runs, 25 runs short of the Laguna target.
An enjoyable day was had by all who attended, with Sam from Phuket Live 89.5 Radio providing a ball-by-ball match commentary, keenly followed by the spectators in the ACG clubhouse.
In addition to the trophy presentations to the finalists, the Phuket Cricket Group (PCG) presentations took place with Craig Murphy (The Village) taking out the MVP and best bowler awards, Ali Khan (Jabudays) taking out the best batsman, and the “spirit of cricket” award going to John King for his outstanding contribution to the development of cricket in Phuket as an umpire and coach of the PCG Youth Academy.
After a short break, the cricketing action on Phuket will resume at the ACG with the T20 league scheduled to start in July.
Anyone interested in playing or fielding a team should email: email@example.com
After winning the toss, Patong elected to put Laguna into bat knowing the conditions would prove difficult for batsmen with the ball skidding through from a wet pitch.
Their decision paid immediate dividends with captain Stuart Reading (2) being cleaned bowled by Kishor Jhagtar in the very first over.
Fellow opener Val Guiraud (1) also fell victim to Jhagtar in his very next over and with 2 wickets down for only 5 runs, Laguna looked like capitulating the same as in their last match against Patong.
Play was then stopped due to bad light and heavy rain for about an hour. When conditions improved, the match resumed with Laguna needing to dig deep to post a total which they could defend.
However, Andrew Cole (11) mistimed a shot to be caught and bowled by Dave Watson and they were again on the ropes.
When Sameer Khan (7) came to the crease, he looked in good touch and sought to attack the bowlers, hitting Jhagtar towards the clubhouse at deep mid-wicket for what looked like a certain boundary.
However, Richard Desmond plucked the ball one-handed in mid-air while simultaneously running backwards towards the boundary to unbelievably pull off the catch of the season in a superhuman effort.
With 4 wickets down and only 35 runs on the board in the 9th over, it looked like a case of déjà vu.
The misery continued with Faisal Mir being adjudged lbw just one over later, and Laguna were now looking to at least make a contest by not being bowled out for less than 100 runs.
It was ultimately a 94 run partnership between Shoeib Mushtaq (44) and Michael Ayling (36) which restored some pride to the Laguna innings, taking the total along to 135 before Ayling fell to another sharp catch from Desmond.
In the following over, Laguna lost another 2 wickets including that of Mushtaq and at 8 for 143, they were simply looking to bat out the remaining overs to post a more defendable total.
Roly Cooper (18 not out) provided a glimmer of hope playing aggressively including a pull shot for six but eventually he ran out of batting partners with the score on 165 runs.
Pick of the bowlers for Patong were Kishor Jhagtar (3 for 26), Dave Watson (2 for 22) and Richard Desmond (2 for 29).
After the lunch break, and in improving conditions, the Patong side began their run chase in swift fashion, assisted by some wayward bowling by Sami Ullah in his first two over spell.
With Patong already reaching 30 without loss after just 4 overs, it was time for a bowling change from pace to slow in an effort to stem the easy flow of runs.
This proved successful when Mike Khan (9) was dismissed in the 5th over with the score on 36. Laguna looked back in the hunt when they struck again capturing the wicket of Paddy Morton (1) with a sharp caught and bowled by Val Guiraud in the next over.
However, opener Seemant Raju (23) and Dave Watson (36) then combined and seemed to be taking it all in their stride, working the ball around the ground to accumulate a steady flow of runs until Raju finally fell after a 54 run partnership with 3 wickets down for 91 runs.
Neil Quail then joined Watson at the crease and continued along in much the same fashion.
At the 20-over drinks break, Patong headed back to the clubhouse with 105 runs on the scoreboard, 7 wickets in hand, and 61 runs required from 15 overs, a required run-rate of just 4 runs per over.
Laguna knew at this point it was now or never, and the only chance of victory would be to somehow bowl Patong out.
After such a wayward opening spell, the pace attack of Sami Ullah and Val Guiraud was re-introduced.
Watson and Quail continued on their way until Ullah made the breakthrough in the 25th over taking out Quail’s middle stump with the score on 132.
At this stage there was no reason to panic, as Patong still had capable batsmen in hand and only 34 runs required for victory from 10 overs.
However, just 2 balls later, Ullah struck again when Watson skied a high ball which was well taken by Faisal Mir at mid-off.
With 5 wickets now down, the Laguna side could see a glimmer of hope albeit very slight.
However, it was Ullah’s next over which proved to be the decisive match-winning performance.
Steaming in to captain Anthony Van Blerk (1), he beat him with a cracker of a ball uprooting middle stump. He then followed this up just 3 balls later sending Pao Suttiprapha’s middle stump tumbling end-over-end.
However, not content with this, on the last ball of his over, he trapped Richard Desmond in front and the Patong innings had been decimated to 8 wickets down for 135 runs.
Manish Sadarangani (5 not out), who had been watching this from the non-strikers end since coming to the crease after the fall of Quail, was in a state of shock, like many others who had witnessed the event.
With him being the last of the recognised batsmen, the pressure was mounting to get the few remaining runs required for victory.
However, Sameer Khan, took his opportunity when Soton Alamin (0) took strike and he trapped him lbw just one run later with the score on 136 in the 30th over.
With 30 runs required and just one wicket remaining the balance of power was now well and truly with Laguna.
Khan eventually mopped up the innings and a thrilling victory in his next over when he took the last wicket of Kishor Jhagtar (1) and incredibly Patong were all out for 141 runs.
Pick of the bowlers for Laguna were Sami Ullah (5 for 31), Sameer Khan (2 for 19) and Shoeib Mushtaq (2 for 29).