Games We Play: Ra'anana vs Lions Lod

Local cricket league set for thrilling finish

GABI SCHACHAT (photo credit: Courtesy)
(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 matches.
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 Saturday.
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.
With a 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.