This year Rio fulfilled its promise of sunshine and the 2nd round of the National Men’s Cricket Championship was bathed in golden light during the weekend. The hosts, the Carioca Cricket Club, faced the current São Paulo champion, São Paulo CC, in field 1 (a replay of last year’s final), while Brasilia Cricket and Minas Gerais Cricket Club played in field 2.

SPCC captain Gregor Caisely lost the draw and was chosen to beat by home captain Nick Ellerby. The CCC started off strong and took some quick wickets to have SPCC on the ropes at 50 to 5 before going back to 135-6, with Rafi Ur Rahman from CCC taking 2-15 of his four overs and an impressive catch reflex in the “short cover ”. The CCC started in a stable manner, losing only their first wicket in the 7th over, when the first batters suffered from the São Paulo man-in-danger Zia Khan. Despite losing a flurry of wickets in the middle of the innings, the CCC ran the races with just a few balls to spare, M. Asmat making 38 as hitter number 2 and Ryan de Souza anchoring a final with 31 points.

Meanwhile, Brasilia Cricket and the MGCC were competing as two heavyweight boxers. Ilyas beat Brasilia Cricket a wonderful century with them closing in a scary 223-6, but Minas Gerais was no match for the task with Matt Featherstone making an undefeated 73 and Andrew ‘Yuvraj’ Crawford taking the bull by the horns and beating an 78 unbeaten, with only half of the balls delivered, to see his team at home with a sweeping victory.

The tournament now seemed very open, as the current champions, the SPCC, and the winners of the first round, Brasília Cricket, had started with defeats.

Match 2 on Saturday afternoon saw SPCC begin to assert its dominance, presenting a total of 201-8 off its 20 overs, with Gregor Caisely building his way to 53 as the first hitter and Ismat Tonking with a majestic 72, while MGCC with Rick Avery gave a refined 4-22. Mr. Cricket Brasil, Matt Featherstone, posted 41 NO * in response, but his team could only score 137-7, losing 64 races to the resurgent champions.

In the other game, Brasília Cricket was restricted to 138-8 by the CCC, whose pitches and fielding became rather stingy, summed up by the tiny Abdul Basit, who took 4-12 out of his four overs. Once again, a solid start to the top 3 put the CCC in sight before another crisis in the middle of the hitters’ list that saw Rafi UR Rahman’s number 9 draw, with the home team needing 23 runs to win. After having a lighter ball, Rafi then started to hit a straight 6,6,2,6,1 to win the game and place the CCC a short distance from the Round 2 trophy.

That night, host Abel lit his fire and many future tours, trophies and tournaments were discussed over bottles of Salinas, Chivas Regal and Jack Daniels. Other spirits are available.

Sunday started with three teams still able to lift the trophy and the Shield, depending on the results and bonus points. After a bad performance in the first round of the tournament in Brasilia in May, the CCC only managed to lift the trophy of the 2nd round while facing the Minas Gerais Cricket Club in field 2. MGCC hit solidly, posting 181-5, again with some accurate shots of the CCC. But it proved to be a little too much for the hosts, who dropped to 148 with everyone eliminated, and with that were their chances of lifting the trophy at home. Minas Gerais now had to wait for Brasília Cricket to do São Paulo a favor.

SPCC were restricted to a very ‘accessible’ total of 127-9 by Brasília Cricket. But São Paulo’s experience and class made the difference in the end, when Brasília Cricket exploded, with a Zia Kahn finally warming up making 3-26 and Tharon 3-43 to dismiss Brasília Cricket for only 89 and snatch not only the trophy from 2nd round of the hands of Minas, but also to take the Shield back to the financial capital of the country for the fifth consecutive year.

Pictures by Petter Ilicciev