Quality cricket raises standard

A whirlwind 108 not out off just 52 balls by Sri Lankan Test opener Dimuth Karunaratne against Hong Kong Cricket Club, another knock of 88 from 38 balls by Indian international Abhishek Nayar against Rowlin National Cricket Academy, then the Singapore Cricket Association President's XI beating the fancied Singhalese Sports Club (SSC) by 17 runs in a pool match.

The Singapore Cricket Club's Twenty20 tournament has seen several thrilling moments over the past two days.

And the stage is set for more high-energy, top-quality action in the semi-finals when SSC play Melbourne Cricket Club and holders Cricket Club of India (CCI) square off against Madras Cricket Club at The Padang from 8.45am today.

"It's my first time playing in this tournament and I'm surprised by the standard, which is pretty good," said former India all-rounder Ajit Agarkar, 36, who came out of retirement to represent CCI.

"You really have to play well to get a result."

Former Singapore national team captain Stacey Muruthi, 62, said the standard of play has gone up a notch in the fourth edition of the tournament, which has 11 current and former internationals from India and Sri Lanka in the fray.

"The SSC especially have come with a strong team," he pointed out.

"Twenty20 is a faster version of the game and all these stars are putting on a great spectacle for the spectators. Such high level of cricket is rarely seen in Singapore."

More than 200 spectators have watched the action on each of the first two days - which is another high for the tournament.

Another 5,000 people in Singapore have been tracking the matches on ESPN Cricinfo, Wisden and CricketCountry.com, according to Sanchit Sanga, 38, head of digital (Asia) of global media agency network Mindshare, which is supporting the tournament.

"The playing conditions are good and the matches are played in a nice atmosphere," said Indian cricket legend Virender Sehwag, 35, a special guest at the event.

"For a club-level tournament, the quality of play is high. Kids in Singapore can learn a lot from watching these players in action."

V.K. Santosh Kumar

This article was first published on Aug 24, 2014.
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