Ice Cricket – Sehwag Vs Afridi
In the annals of cricket, February 8 will be known for the game taking a big step into the frozen cold of the Alps.
A Twenty20 match was played in the ski resort of St Moritz on Thursday, when the fire of subcontinent cricket was settled on Swiss ice.
The teams were led by the two most explosive batsmen of India and Pakistan with Virender Sehwag’s Palace Diamonds taking on Shahid Afridi’s Royals.
The former Pakistan skipper’s team emerged victorious by six wickets in the first of two matches. Palace Diamonds scored 164/9 in 20 overs with Sehwag top-scoring with 62.
Royals reached 166/4 in 15.4 overs with former England batsman, Owais Shah scoring 74.
The match, played on a frozen lake with temperature around minus five Degrees Celsius, featured former stars.
Australia’s Mike Hussey, Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar and Sri Lanka batsman Mahela Jayawardene were all there.
The players slipped and slid on the hard surface, and wore gloves and shades for protection from the cold.
Fielding was an effort in the rarefied atmosphere – St Moritz at almost 6,000 feet above sea level – with few managing to collect the ball on first attempt.
In the televised game, Palace Diamonds won the toss and chose to bat. The pitch was an astro-turf strip rolled out with wooden planks underneath.
Blue lines were drawn to mark the batting and bowling crease.
Palace Diamonds made a poor start with Tillakaratne Dilshan (8), Mahela Jayawardene (7) and Michael Hussey (1) falling cheaply.
However, Sehwag spewed fire on ice, showing he is the boss as he blasted 62 off 31 balls, including four fours and five sixes.
Sehwag was given company by former Australia all-rounder Andrew Symonds, who smashed 40 off 30 balls.
For Royals, former Pakistan all-rounder Abdul Razzaq was the bowling star with figures of 4-0-18-4.
In reply, Diamonds lost Graeme Smith (23) and Matt Prior (8), but Owais Shah batted brilliantly in the company of Jacques Kallis.
When Kallis was out for 36, there was some anticipation that Shahid Afridi would strike some big blows. But the former Pakistan skipper was caught at deep mid wicket off the bowling of spinner Ramesh Powar.
Shah and Grant Elliott then helped Diamonds over the line with 28 balls to spare.
The second match will be played on Friday.
Cricket has been played on ice in St Moritz for more than 25 years, but this is the first time a series is being played.
The thick sheet of ice on the frozen lake can take withstand almost 200 tonnes. The town has held two Winter Olympics in 1928 and 1948.