Having beaten 1st Division team Hasselt in the quarter-finals, the Optimists were in confident mood but had to get over a dangerous Mechelen Eagles in the semi-final and if successful would face either Liege CC or hosts, Antwerp Indians CC in the final.
Optimists skipper, Richard Neale lost the toss and the Optimists were asked to bowl first.
Shortly after, Atif bowled a snorter of a ball that had vicious lift and movement and the Eagles number three batsman could only glove it in front of his nose, to go through to wicket-keeper, Graham Cope. A run out in the third over also led to the Eagles problems and they were 17-3 off the first 3 overs.
Enter stage right, Vikram Vijh. Vikram decimated the Mechelen Eagles lower middle order and a flurry of batsman came and went as Vik notched up the wickets either bowled, LBW or a great catch from Pankaj Malav. Saransh was wheeling away at the end and picked up a wicket with a fantastic catch from James Barker at deep mid on.
The Eagles were all out for 65 and surely the Optimists' place in the final was secure.... or was it?
Out of no-where Eagles new left-arm fast bowler showed up! After, three bouncers, Neale finally faced a delivery that was in his half only to drive it straight to extra-cover and was out caught. Not the best of starts.
Fortunately, the calm head of James Barker joined Vikram and together they started to put some momentum back in the Optimists way. Vikram took a liking to some of their first and second change bowlers and hit two sixes in a row to relieve pressure. However, the drama was not over when Vikram was out, caught for 33 and and Pankaj went quickly after for a second ball duck. Optimists were on 60-7 off 15 overs. Fortunately, the rock of James Baker was still there and with Anshuman Bhadawia, they knocked off the final few to see the Optimists scrape over the line in what was an extremely tense game!
There was one change to the side and Yatin Bhamare came in for Anshuman to re-enforce the bowling attack.
It was not until the 5th over, though, when Yatin was brought into the attack when the Optimists made their first break-through. It was an excellent ball and well caught behind by Graham Cope.
AICC were on 36-1 off 5 overs.
Saransh and Aanand Pandy both picked up a wicket in the dying overs but AICC had finished their 20 overs with 154-7. Vikram picking up 4 wickets for 26 runs in another brilliant display of bowling and was extremely well supported by Yatin Bhamare with 1-18 off his 4 overs.
Teh spectators were in for a treat: Reinhardt immediately cashed in on some loose bowling from AICC and anything wide or short was given the full treatment. Two great sixes (one hitting the roof of the grandstand from a cut shot) in the first over, and boundaries galore in the following overs meant the Optimists were off to a flyer and found themselves on 50-0 off 5 overs. Reinhardt was certainly enjoying himself and the large home support crowd that grew to over 150 people also appreciated his fine hitting. He was supported at the other end by Saransh who eventually went caught and brought Neale to the crease.
Reinhardt was eventually caught for a superb 49 and Vikram Vijh joined Neale when the score was 94-2 off 11 overs.
Girish came in with what was now dark conditions and hit a mighty 6 over extra cover to try and get things wrapped up quickly but was out trying to hit big in a selfless manner for 14.
After 17 overs, the score was 138-4 with Optimists needing 17 to win in 3 overs. Atif Kamal was promoted up the order and joined Neale.
After a few calculations, the Optimists won by Duckworth-Lewis method by 9 runs!
Vikram Vijh was named player of the day for his two outstanding bowling performances and finished the day on 7.2 overs, 9 wickets for 36 runs. An exceptional effort.