Summer has officially arrived in Iceland, well, except the sporadic snow showers in first week of May, and it’s the time for the flagship cricket tournament in Iceland, the SportZchain Iceland Premier League or Íslensk Premier League aka ÍPL, not to be confused with IPL, the Indian version or EPL, the British version. This outdoor tournament, featuring 12 games, involving all four cricket clubs in Iceland, will commence on 8th May and the last matches will be played on 4th June. All the matches will take place at the Víðistaðatún ground, and the live telecast will be available on the ICA YouTube channel.
It is difficult to predict a winner this time, as all four teams are almost equally balanced. However, during the indoor tournament Volcanic Ashes, Kopavogur Puffins looked to be the most prepared team for this season. They have worked out a lot and trained regularly and the results were visible. Keenan Botha is expected to carry his splendid batting form from the indoor grounds, for another few miles south, to Víðistaðatún and to lead the batting efforts, along with Bala Kamallakharan and Jakob Robertson. Puffins bowling attack also looks formidable, with pace from Sai Padamata, Abdur Rehman, Robertson and Ben Rayner and spin trio of David Cook, Botha and Kamallakharan. Last year, Puffins were struggling to find the wicketkeeper and ended up trying as many as four keepers throughout the season. This year, they are hoping to hit the right button with energetic Abhishek Chauhan behind the stumps.
Reykjavik Vikings remains the most versatile team in the Icelandic cricket fraternity. The batting line-up, led by Derick Deonarain, the best batsman in Iceland right now, and ably supported by Lakshita Bimsara, Ravi Rawat and Lakmal Bandara, is expected to score a lot of runs. As always, their bowling line-up is also very strong, with ever so accurate Prabhat Weerasooriya, Lakmal Bandara and Sadun Lankathilaka. Their new recruits, Ramesh Eddum and H Jack have shown great potential during the Volcanic Ashes and expected to perform well in ÍPL as well.
The defending champions Hafnarfjörður Hammers are strongly dependent on the all-round ability of Dushan Bandara and Chamley Fernando´s performance in front of the stumps. Most of the days, Dushan and Chamley can single-handedly win the matches but Hammers´ vulnerability was exposed during the Volcanic Ashes, when both failed to make any impact. Having said that, it will be a totally different ball game in the ground outside and as shown during the last season, the likes of Tajder Khan, Sulaman Nawaz, J. Miakhial, Younas and Samuel Gill can pitch in whenever required and win matches in absence of Dushan Bandara.
Vesturbær Volcanos probably have the best bowling attack among the four teams. Although they coudn´t perform well in the Volcanic Ashes, return of Ramachandran Gujjappan, Sampath Nagarajan and Kathir Narayanan will definitely boost their bowling attack. Vaibhav Anandgaonkar´s left hand spin can also prove to be dangerous with uneven bounce in offer at Víðistaðatún. Just like the last season, batting for 20 overs remains Volcanos’ major challenge. Apart from Sebastian Dreyer, no one could score big in the ÍPL last year and they were all-out within 16 overs in the Volcanic Ashes this year, with Dreyer stranding at one end. Volcanos must break this trend if they want to make any substantial impact in ÍPL this year.
The uncertain weather in Iceland may also play a major role in the outcome of the ÍPL. As of now, rain is expected on 8th May, which may interrupt the inaugural matches. Hopefully, clouds will stay away for rest of the tournament and let the best team win the SportZchain ÍPL trophy.
Fixtures list : https://www.krikket.is/matches
Live Telecast : https://www.youtube.com/c/IcelandCricket