Tuesdy 15 August 2017 saw the traditional annual cricket match between the Indian Association of Luxembourg (IAL) and Optimists CC (OCC) to commemorate India's Independence Day.
Conditions at the Pierre Werner Cricket ground in Walferdange looked promising and proceedings started with IAL's captain Vikram Vijh winning the toss and deciding to bat first.
Praveen Kuruvalli and Atif Kamal opened the innings for IAL, however disciplined bowling from Reinhardt Heyns and Prashanth Chandrasekhar led to a slow start. Praveen departed early and Aanand Pandey walked in at number three. Aanand's strategy looked clear as he kept the strike rotating. Tight bowling from OCC bowlers prevented Atif to free his arms and he was eventually caught on 30 off Chris Fry’s bowling.
What looked like a troubled start got more troublesome when Vikram edged a leg glance to wicketkeeper Hendri Bruwer who took a brilliant diving catch. It was only when Mohit Dixit came out to crease that IAL's innings started to get into shape. He along with Aanand played steadily, increasing the run rate when required. Markus Cope finally dismissed Mohit and he departed with a well-paced 27 while Aanand went on to make a measured 55, a brilliant mature knock under the circumstances. Unfortunately for the IAL, no other batsman could show resistance and IAL completed their innings with 181 on the scoreboard.
With only 181 to chase, Timothy Barker-led OCC looked confident and IAL's bowlers knew they had a tough task at hand. James Barker and Vishwajeet Deshpande walked out to open the innings for OCC. Atif Kamal made an immediate impact by his fiery bowling removing opener Vishwajeet in his second over. James Barker, with tight defense, was holding the innings together on other end.
Yatin Bhamare, who was swinging the ball both ways from the other end, claimed two wickets in quick succession, including that of skipper Timothy, providing ideal start to IAL. Two more wickets fell soon, one each for Aanand and Vikram who took the baton forward. OCC was looking in trouble when Reinhardt Heyns walked to crease but he soon took a liking to bowling and shifted momentum in OCC’s favour, smashing balls to all parts.
Seeing the momentum shift, the skipper brought back Atif and he gracefully delivered, bowling out Reinhardt with a full delivery, but not before he had powered his way to 36. Vikram claimed two more wickets when James Barker looped a catch to point and Chris Fry was trapped front of wicket. The game was in IAL’s favour at this point with OCC standing at 102/8.
Marcus Cope and Chris Evans then set out rebuilding the innings and were successfully rotating the strike of every bowler, steadily piling up the score. Atif and Yatin were then brought back to break the partnership and it worked with Markus edging one to keeper of Atif's bowl. Markus departed on 18 and IAL could smell victory now. Chris Evans soon got bowled by Vikram departing after a threatening 21. The final nail came when Prashanth hit a ball straight down Atif's throat and OCC were all out for 138.
IAL thus triumphed in the end, after a low-scoring but extremely competitive match that was played in great spirit.