Templars on verge of league triumph

TEMPLARS have virtually clinched their first Sunday League title in 18 years after beating defending champions Scorpions by six wickets at the Hongkong Cricket Club yesterday.

But they received a little help from their Kowloon Cricket Club friends, Infidels, who crushed Templars' main rivals Optimists by 151 runs at Cox's Road.

Optimists, who are now in third place on 227 points, need a miracle if they are to overhaul Templars, who lead on 247, with both teams having one more match.

Infidels, having played all their 16 matches, are second on 243.

Templars, who earned the maximum 20 points for their victory, play lowly British Forces next week at Mission Road.

Optimists take on Little Sai Wan next week. Not only do they need outright victory, but must also hope Templars suffer a crushing defeat against Forces.

Even such an unlikely scenario would only put Optimists level on points with Templars, who last won the championship in 1975, and the teams would be forced to share the title.

Templars' spin twins Bharat Gohel and Yarman Vachha, aided by medium-pacer Riaz Farcy, did a fine containment job on the Scorpions' batting line-up, who managed only 168 for eight off a maximum 55 overs.

Gohel took three wickets for 87 runs in his lengthy 19-over spell, but would have had better figures had his fielders held on to five potential catches off his bowling.

Vachha bowled 17 splendid overs, nine of which were maidens, taking two wickets for a measly 15 runs.

Farcy had a useful eight-over spell with figures of two for 17.

Jeremy Perks was not out on 56 for Scorpions, while Jonathan Orders scored 42.

The chunky Farcy also played a key role in the Templars' batting department, which was dominated by an unbeaten 70 from Pat Fordham.

Farcy scored a quick-fire 39 to hasten Templars' run-chase, but was caught on the mid-wicket boundary by David Clifton-James off John Atkinson, in attempting a match-winning six.

It was left to Fordham to hit the winning run as Templars reached 169 for four in the 30th over.

Steve Atkinson had earlier scored 37 before being caught by his namesake John off Bob Fotheringham's bowling.

Warren Symcox took two for 57.

Infidels, having won the toss and electing to bat, declared at 269 for seven off 53 overs.

Mark Eames was unbeaten on 77, with David Thompson (62) and Glyn Davies (52) also contributing half-centuries.

Optimists' Leigh Beaman took four for 111.

Optimists were bowled out for 118 in 29 overs with only Beaman and John Dally putting up any resistance, both scoring 38.

David Brettell took five for 39, with Davies and Thompson both snapping up two wickets each.

The draw for the Butani Cup is: Merchants v Strollers, Police Training School; Centaurs v Gap Ramblers, HKCC; KGV v Craigengower, KGV; Tartars bye; Sentinels bye; Legal Eagles v Pakistan Association, DBS; Islanders v HKCC Casuals, So Kon Po; Saracens v Champagne XI, KCC.