|National UK Bal Mandal ‘Shantilal Cricket Tournament’
Saturday 28 November 2009, London
UK Bal Mandal held its first national ‘Shantilal Cricket Tournament’ on Saturday 28 November 2009. To accommodate the 18 teams coming in from around the country, the tournament was held at three different venues in Brent, London: BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, The Swaminarayan School, and Oakington Manor Primary School. Yagnatilak Swami inaugurated the competition with the traditional deep pragatya.
With so many balaks participating, the tournament was categorised into two age groups. The first being 10- to 12-year-olds (Shantilal Trophy) comprising eight teams, and the 13- to 14-year-olds (Shantilal Cup) which included ten teams. The layout of the tournament ensured that the best teams would progress to the later stages of the competition while at the same time ensuring all teams were able to play at least a few games.
The tournament began with great enthusiasm with the matches providing great excitement, amusement and elation, and a high standard of cricket. From the very first ball, the crowd was treated to a wonderful display of sportsmanship and unity within the teams. There was a great array of talent on show with some excellent all-round performances from teams showing teamwork as well as individual talent.
With the top teams going through to the quarter-finals, there were some excellent matches on offer. In the Shantilal Cup, an action-packed quarter-final between Brent-Harrow C and Nottingham finished with Brent-Harrow C winning by two runs in a tense finish after Nottingham had shown excellent form in the group stages. Finchley, another team showing good form, comfortably beat Birmingham in their quarter-final but were then edged out by East London in the semi-finals. In the other semi-final, a local derby between two Brent-Harrow teams ended in Brent-Harrow C narrowly beating Brent-Harrow B. This meant the final was to be contested between Brent-Harrow C and East London with an electric atmosphere inside the Mandir gym. Batting first, East London set a target of 48 after a difficult start in their innings. Despite some excellent bowling from East London, they were unable to prevent Brent-Harrow from reaching their target and lifting the Shantilal Cup.
In the Shantilal Trophy, all of the quarter-final matches produced expected results with the four seeded teams all securing a place in the semi-finals. Brent-Harrow A made hard work of their quarter-final against Swaminarayan Sunday School (SSS) D in a low scoring, evenly-matched game, holding their nerve to progress by one run. The first semi-final between West A and South B saw South B – who had averaged a score of over 50 runs in each of their previous matches – win the toss and decide to bat first. Some agile fielding and clever bowling from West A restricted South B to 36. West A, needing six runs off the last ball to beat the favourites, succumbed to the pressure as South B progressed to the final. In the other semi final, SSS B overcame a good effort from Brent-Harrow A to book their place in the final. The fans and supporters, already thrilled from the final of the Shantilal Cup, eagerly anticipated the final of the Shantilal Trophy. Good teamwork and commitment in the field saw SSS B restrict South B to a total of 29. South B started off well and regularly took wickets slowing down any progress that was being made by SSS B in achieving the total. SSS B required 18 off the last four balls and many thought that South B already had one hand on the trophy. An outstanding batting display from SSS B brought them a target of six runs from the final delivery for victory; however, South B held their nerve and the favourites lifted the Shantilal Trophy.
Over 2,500 runs were scored throughout the tournament thrilling all who had gathered for the event. In the concluding ceremony, the winning teams each received a trophy. Prizes were also awarded to the best individual performers, who each received a trophy and special commemorative cap. The feedback from the balaks was very positive with many commending the great atmosphere generated by the spectators and the entertaining finals as great to witness.
Ultimately, it was a highly competitive environment but the tournament was played in a manner of fraternity among all, proving once again that balaks from across the country are able to come together successfully through sport.
A summary of awards is as follows: