Cricket: Israel XI swept aside by India A

SA star Rhodes scores only 11 runs in first of three one-dayers in Ashdod.

cricket 88 (photo credit: )
cricket 88
(photo credit: )
Drinking Goldstar and munching Bisli, the Israeli faithful cheered on the assembled Israeli Inivitation XI as it took on an India A team in Ashdod on Sunday. Excitement was high, though it did not last for long, as the Indians easily defeated the Israeli team by nine wickets. In the first of three one-day matches to be played this week in Ashdod in celebration of Israel's 60th anniversary, the Israeli team, led by South African cricket legend Jonty Rhodes, managed 52 runs, before the Indian team cruised to the win, dropping only one wicket in the process. The Israel team was made up of Jewish cricketers from around the world, including players from Australia, Ireland, India, South Africa and as well as former South African international Jonty Rhodes. While much was expected of Rhodes, the 38-year-old, who retired from the game in 2003 after 11 years at the top, scored just 11 runs before being caught. Hopes had also been high for another South African, Adam Bacher, but he was first out for seven runs. Still, Israel Cricket Association chairman Stanley Perlman said he had enjoyed the Indian performance and expected more from the Israeli team in Monday's second match of the series. "I hope it will be a much better performance tomorrow," he said. "India played superbly, it was a pleasure to watch." Blaming the hot weather conditions for the poor performance, Perlman said he was "hoping for big things tomorrow from [Rhodes] and Adam Bacher." Israel batted first, with Jason Molins and Bacher opening for the hosts. After Bacher was dismissed he was replaced by Isaac Massil who was caught behind for a single run. Molins scored 11 runs, equaling Rhodes as Israel's top scorer. The man of the match was Indian bowler Rajat Bhatia who took four wickets for five runs in five overs, including one maiden. When the Indians batted it was clear they were playing to impress. The one wicket felled was taken by Yaniv Razpurker, who got M. Vijay out for 31 runs when he was caught by Bension Sagawker. The trip has also been an opportunity for the teams to travel around the country. Since arriving in Israel on Friday, both sides have been given an opportunity to see different sites around Israel before taking to the field. "We've been kept busy. There is so much to see. It's a lot to take in," Rhodes said. On the quality of cricket available in Israel today, Rhodes admitted, "it's tough." "I come from South Africa where all the boys play it in school," he said. He did add, though, that there is certainly opportunity in Israel, saying, "You appreciate how dedicated the administration is here. The fact that India A has come all the way here to play is proof of the Israeli administration's hard work." The India A team consisted of fringe players and those who have caught the eye of the Indian selection committee during the recent Indian Premier League tournament. Jydev Shah, the captain of India A said that the team has enjoyed the opportunity to see a new culture. "They have taken good care of us," he said. "We came to promote the sport so that people here can learn and enjoy it. "We never knew that this game has been here for 30 years. People need more time to develop the understanding, but we want to help move it forward." While India A has enjoyed the tour and goodwill, Shah reiterated that he and his teammates still came to Israel to take care of business. "We are first class players, this is our career. We want to play well for the national selectors as well," he said. The fans at the pitch included Israelis but were dominated by foreigners from countries such as South Africa and Great Britain who were excited to see the international match played in Israel. One supporter, Avram Piha from Jerusalem, is a native of Capetown. "I've been a huge fan of Jonty since I was a kid, so I had to come," he said. "It's great that a world class player came to Israel to help the sport grow." Piha helped to lead a small but enthusiastic cheering section. He admitted, "the fan base is small, and foreign-born, but events like this help."