(photo credit: Courtesy)
The ICA Division 1 league will be decided over the weekend with the top two
teams, Ra’anana and Lions Lod, playing each other in the final round of league
The domestic league, which is played in a unique format
combining both the limited overs and Test match versions of the game into one,
consists of 11 rounds of matches.
Ra’anana dominated the league in the
early rounds, defeating both Lod and third-placed Young Ashdod in earlier
matches, but have suffered a loss of form through the second round of matches in
which the top four teams after round one play each other again. A defeat for
Ra’anana against Neve Yonatan and a draw versus Young Ashdod allowed Lod to
close the gap at the top of the table to just one point, meaning the clash on
Friday promises to be a thrilling finale.
Young Ashdod, 26 points behind
the leaders, have a mathematical chance themselves of sneaking the title,
although that would necessitate the Ra’anana and Lod game ending in a draw with
neither team collecting too many bonus points, and Young Ashdod winning with
close to a maximum 40 points when they play Neve Yonatan in Ashdod on
The bottom half of the table is equally tight. Although Kiryat
Gat will finish last regardless of the outcome of their game against Lod Rangers
in Lod on Saturday, Beersheva and Ashdod, which plays Saturday in Beersheva as
well as Rangers are all trying to avoid finishing second bottom and facing a
play-off match against Sri Lanka Jerusalem, which finished second in Division
Two, to avoid relegation.
Lions Lod has dominated the domestic league
over the last decade. The Lod team boasts no less than eight current or former
Israel internationals. The opening pair of Yefet Nagavkar and Shalom Rubin have
enjoyed another successful season, the Massil brothers, Isaac and David, remain
two of the finest all rounders in the country, while wicketkeeper Shailesh
Bangerra has plenty of international experience. The prize wicket, however, will
be that of Eshkol Solomon. Batting at number three, Solomon has enjoyed a
magnificent season, with two league centuries so far including a superb 157
against the Israel X1, and also starred for the Israel team at the Division 2
European Championships in Guernsey earlier this summer, scoring 120 to lead
Israel to victory over Gibraltar.
The Ra’anana team, captained by Steven
Shein, includes no shortage of experience and quality either. Openers Daniel
Hyman and 18-year old Josh Evans have both been in excellent form with the bat,
and the middle order includes the likes of youngsters Gal Matz and Danny Hotz as
well as veterans David Silver and Adrian Vard. Huddy Lieberman and left arm
quick Gerrit Grundling will share the new ball, with Evans providing further
variety with his leg spinners.
All rounder Gabi Schachat, another of the
players to impress on the tour to Guernsey just ahead of starting his military
service, is still awaiting clearance from the IDF to be allowed to participate
in the match, and if granted will be a massive boost to his team.
draw a possible result under the playing format, there are more permutations on
how this game can play out than in a Pakistani spot-fixing betting scam.
However, what is guaranteed is a competitive game of cricket of the highest
standard the domestic game has to offer. Play on Friday starts at 10 a.m. at the
Lod cricket ground, located alongside the city’s soccer stadium.