The first ever two-day test match in Iceland was played early this month between the T20 and T10 champion Hafnarfjordur Hammers and the runner up Vesturbær Volcano. In a very competitive low scoring encounter, full of excellent team and individual performances, Hammers beat Volcanoes by 17 runs and won the first Ashes on the Ice test match. Dushan Bandara from Hammers was adjudged the Player of the match by the officials for his outstanding all-round show throughout the match, but, showing great sportsman spirit, Dushan handed over the award to Vesturbær´s Kathir Narayanan for his exceptional bowling effort, including Iceland´s first 8 wicket haul during Hammers´ second innings..
Hafnarfjordur Hammers 119 (D Bandara 43*, T Khan 37; S Shanmugam 2-8, K Narayanan 2-13) and 126 (D Bandara 58, T Khan 21; K Narayanan 8-50, S K Nagarajan 2-22) defeated Vesturbær Volcano 127 (K Narayanan 42*, N Nekram 22; S Nawaz 3-41, S Saeed 2-8) and 101 (N Nekram 63, V Anandgaonkar 12; A Sarwari 4-10, I Sadiq 2-7) by 17 runs
SportZchain Man of the Match: Kathir Narayanan
On the first day Hammers won the toss and elected to bat first. While Tajder Khan started aggressively and scored quick runs, the support from the other end was non-existent. Miakhial and Tariq were gone for ducks and Tajder got out for a well-made 37 in the 9th over. Volcanoes further tightened their grip in the very next over as Saravanan Shanmugam sent Chamley Fernando back to the pavilion for only 2, thanks to an excellent catch from Ramji Navapara, and dismissed K Muhammad for a duck. With half of the side back to the pavilion for only 42, Dushan Bandara started playing very cautiously and built reasonable partnerships with S Nawaz, A Sarwari and A Yaqobi, dragging the score over 100. However, Volcanoes bowlers maintained the pressure and kept on getting the wickets at regular intervals. Eventually they dismissed Hammers for 119, just before the lunch break, leaving Dushan stranded at 43.
Volcanoes first innings started in a similar fashion as the Hammers innings. N Nekram scored few quick runs but Abdul Saif and Senthil Mahalingam could not score any and Volcanoes were reduced to 34 for 3 in no time. Avik Ghosh tried to hit out and score quick runs, but his ploy did not work either as one of the lofted shots found S Saeed in the long on. Mohith Kotian and captain Sampath Kumar tried to rebuild the innings, but both got out in quick succession leaving Volcanoes at 58 for 6. Kathir Narayanan and Vaibhab Anandgaonkar then added 41 runs and once Anandgaonkar got out, Narayanan batted fluently with rest of the tail and surpassed the Hammers score. Like Dushan, he also remained not-out and provided Volcanoes a small but important lead. Nawaz took 3 wickets for Hammers and Miakhial, Sarwari and Tajder Khan took 2 wickets each.
Then, like a superman, Kathir bowled 8 overs at a trot and claimed 4 Hammers wickets, including the prized scalp of this season´s highest run-scorer Chamley Fernando. With 4 wickets down, Dushan Bandara and Tajder Khan saw off the last few overs and Hammers ended the day at 42-4, leaving the game evenly poised. Things would have been different if Volcanoes could convert a chance to run Dushan out in the 9th over but a throw at the wrong end from the fielder helped Dushan to get back to the crease in time.
Volcanoes knew that they can turn the game if they can get Dushan or Khan out early in the morning. Both the Hammers batters showed very good resistance, but Volcanoes bowlers kept pushing on, making the tussle very interesting. Kathir again bowled with a hostile pace and accuracy and eventually got Khan bowled as the batter tried to hit an inswinger through the mid-on region. Just like the day 1 evening session, Narayanan continued to bowl from one end and got Miakhial out for his second duck in the match. At 84 for 6 and only Nawaz and tail enders to come, Dushan tried to release the pressure with some sweetly timed drives through the covers and couple of big sixes and scored the first half-century of the match. Eventually he got out for 59, failing to keep away a vicious inswinger from Sampath Kumar, denying Kathir a potential ten fer in an innings. With Dushan back in the pavilion, despite some fight back from Nawaz, Hammers could add only few runs for the last four wickets and was all out for 126 before the lunch, setting a target of 119 for Volcanoes in the fourth innings to win the test. Kathir Narayanan bowled 16 of the 35 overs bowled in the Hammers second innings and achieved the first 8 wicket haul in Icelandic soil.
To further exploit the impression Kathir had on Hammers with the ball, Volcanoes sent him to open the innings with Nikhil Nekram. The ploy somewhat worked out as the pair batted steadily till the lunch break, scoring 20 runs for no loss. However, Hammers came back very strongly post-lunch and first dismissed Narayanan for 4 and then a hostile spell from Tajder Khan sent Avik Ghosh and Senthil Mahalingam back to the pavilion for ducks. The situation got even worse for Volcanoes as Nawaz got Abdul Saif out cheaply and they were in big trouble at 34 for 4. However, Nekram continued to play his natural game and the contest took another turn as he got an able supporting hand in the form of Vaibhab Anandgaonkar. Nekram scored boundaries of every bad ball offered to him and quickly took the game away from Hammers, well, momentarily, with an aggressive half-century. The pair added 53 runs in no time and Volcanoes were on their way to win the test at 87 for 4 at the tea, needing only 32 runs from the mandatory 30 overs, with 6 wickets in hand. The Icelandic cricket-God had other plans though. Nekram nicked Sarwari for 63 in the first over after the tea and the complexion of the game changed immediately. Sarwari and Iqbal Sadiq bowled beautifully in tandem and Volcanoes batters did not have any answers. Volcanos innings collapsed dramatically in no time as Sarwari and Sadiq ran through the middle and lower order, claiming the last 6 wickets between them. Vesturbær got out for 101, losing their last 6 wickets for 14 in 6 overs, and literally handed over the trophy to Hammers.
With this win, Hammers have won three major trophies this season and Vesturbær ended up as runner-up in all the four major tournaments.
The recorded telecast of all the matches are available on the ICA YouTube channel.