Students through to semi-final in Colombo

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Sydney University has reached the semi-finals of the Red Bull Campus Cricket tournament for the first time, with a victory over India’s Marathwada Mitra Mandal College of Commerce in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Tuesday.

The ICC-sanctioned Red Bull Campus Cricket is billed as the world championship of college cricket. Sydney University won the 2017 Australian University Games cricket title to earn the right to represent Australia at the tournament.

Teams from Sri Lanka, Australia, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, India, Pakistan, South Africa and United Arab Emirates earned qualification through competitive national tournaments to contest the 2017 World Final which is played in the Twenty20 (20-over) format.

The eight teams have been divided into two groups of four with the group stages taking place at the headquarters of Sri Lankan cricket, the Sinhalese Sports Club, in Colombo. The semi-finals and final will take place at the Galle International Stadium.

Sydney University is in the tough Group A with South Africa, Pakistan and India.

South Africa defeated Sydney University by six wickets in the opening round, but the Australians bounced back in the second round with a three-wicket win over Pakistan, before defeating India by 22 runs yesterday.

Teams from Sri Lanka, Australia, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, India, Pakistan, South Africa and United Arab Emirates earned qualification through fiercely competitive national tournaments and will line up in Colombo for the 2017 group stages from September 10-12.

The action will then move to Galle International Stadium for the semi-finals and final with last year’s champions, Sri Lanka’s Business Management School, aiming to win successive titles – a feat only previously achieved by Assupol Tuks Cricket (University of Pretoria).

Sydney University was given a positive start by Hayden Kerr and Jack Holloway, who took 18 runs from the first three overs of the innings.  But both openers fell within four deliveries, and it was left to Henry Hunt and Nicky Craze to rebuild the innings. The left-handed Craze manipulated the ball into the gaps from the slow bowlers, and repeatedly ramped the seamers to the unguarded areas of the field behind the wicket.  He hit four boundaries in his 30 from 24 balls.  Tight and skilful bowling kept MMMCC in the game, and after 13.1 overs, Sydney was in trouble at 5-74. 

Joe Kershaw responded with a forthright innings, pulling fiercely at anything short of a length, and he was well supported by Will Lawrance.  Sydney waited until the 19th over to use its Energizer Over (in which every run scored is matched by a penalty run), and Kershaw’s second big six ensured that University added 22 to its total at a vital stage.  Three wickets fell in a chaotic final over, but a couple of late blows from Devlin Malone gave Sydney the competitive total of 8 for 136.

Sydney’s new-ball combination, Kershaw and Kerr, has been outstanding in the competition, and again they caused their opponents plenty of trouble early on.  Each bowler took a wicket in his first over, and Kershaw was on a hat-trick in the third over of the innings when he had Dhanraj Shinde and Vaibhav Mali caught from successive deliveries. 

At 4-12 in three overs, the Indians were deep in trouble, and Dugald Holloway collected the fifth wicket in his first over of the innings.  In a tactically shrewd move, MMMCC claimed the Energizer Over early, and cashed in: the 15 runs taken from the eighth over of the innings doubled in value, so that (at 5-59) the batting side was well ahead of its required run rate. 

Azam Khan and Gouraw Chitkara both batted positively, and the pressure was now applied to Sydney University.  Kieran Elley entered the game, making his first appearance of the tournament, and Azam hoisted his fifth delivery over mid-wicket for six. But the next ball rattled the off stump, and Elley produced an exceptional spell: fast, accurate and intelligent.  From his last 19 balls, he claimed three wickets while allowing only eight runs. 

The Indian lower order had no answer to University’s pace attack, nudging singles when boundaries were needed.  Jack Holloway took the ball for the final over, hitting Alam Badrey in the midriff.  The batsman looked for a single as the ball trickled onto the on side, and Holloway completed a comical run out when he aimed a soccer kick and the ball, missed, and then realised he had time to gather the ball and knock off the bails at the striker’s end.  The next delivery was edged to keeper Sam Brandwood and Sydney completed a 22-run victory.

Joe Kershaw was outstanding, with 27 from 23 balls and 3-16 from four overs.  Sydney’s victory gives it second place in Group A.  The team now meets the powerful, unbeaten Sri Lankan side at Galle International Stadium on Friday.

Read more on the Students win over Pakistan here