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Lions Lod successfully defended its Division 1 cricket championship over the weekend without even playing.
Instead, it received help from the unlikeliest of sources, Beersheba A, which recorded its first win of the season, defeating Young Ashdod by 36 runs, an upset of the biggest proportions.
Sport, and cricket in particular, has a knack for throwing up surprises, right when they are least expected. A perfect example came this weekend as Young Ashdod, which could have been excused for planning its championship celebrations well before its final league game on Saturday, was humbled by a team that had not won a game all year.
A spectacular batting collapse, orchestrated by the Gudker brothers, Naor (3 for 19) and Benny (3 for 30), saw Young Ashdod crumble from 157 for 2 to 181 all out. Not even a brilliant century from Shlomo Dhokarker (112) was enough. He received support at the top of the order from Shai Penkar (17), Eitan Benjamin (15) and Efraim Jhirad (14), but thereafter it was a Gudker show. Israel international Raymond Aston was one of three batsman to score zero.
Earlier, Benjamin added three more wickets to his tally for the season, but Beersheba did a great job in reaching 217 for 7. Yogesh top scored with 45, Benny Gudker made 34 and George Sheader scored 27.
Lions winning the league is a case of poetic justice. The only reason Young Ashdod was in the running for the league title at all was because Lions had been penalized 10 points for registration irregularities at the beginning of the season. They remain easily the best team in Israel, winning all their matches except for one hiccup against Tel Aviv.
No surprises in Cup as Lod teams advance
While Beersheba A was securing the league for Lions Lod, it began its Cup campaign with a thumping 199-run victory over Lions Beersheba as the first round of the Israel Cricket Association Cup got underway over the weekend. Lod was also too strong for its lower division opponent, Kiryat Gat, winning by 77 runs.
Lions Beersheba has enjoyed an excellent season, winning Division 3 in style. However, the huge gulf between Division 3 and Lions Lod was graphically exposed as Lions Lod amassed 342 for 6 in their 35 overs, and then restricted their hosts to 143.
Yefet Nagavkar and Shalom Rubin both found the Beersheba bowling to their liking, adding 192 for the wicket. Nagavkar was first to go for 93, Eshkol Solomon (1) fell cheaply, and Rubin was third man out, run out for 87 with the score on 266. But the carnage didn't stop there as Janeth D'Silva (50*) and Anim Solomon (29*) took the score well above the 300 mark.
Lions Beersheba lost its first wicket without a run on the board and never recovered. David Massil (3 for 25) tore through the top order, and although eight batsman reached double figures, the highest partnership was just 33, and that was for the ninth wicket. To their credit they managed to bat out their allotted overs, finishing on 143 for 9.
Lod Cricket Club had little trouble advancing over its first hurdle, putting in a steady team performance to sweep aside Kiryat Gat. Opening batsman Shamir Borgarkar top scored with 43 for Lod and Abraham Penkar added 27 in the middle order, but it was Mr. Extras who really gave the Lod innings a boost, totaling 59 and taking the Lod total to 193.
Kiryat Gat was never really in the game, bowled out for 116. Joel Varsulkar (3 for 32) and Avner Waskar (3 for 11) did most of the damage, with Siyon Sankar and Jacob Levy picking up two wickets apiece.