The 19th instalment of the Spirit of Cricket Tournament concluded with the finals held on March 26 at Auckland Domain. NZ Telangana City Boys and Desi Warriors competed for the championship in the final match with NZ Telangana pinching the title in a thrilling final.

The migrant community cricket championship is a major tournament hosted annually with a purpose to bring the youth of the community together. The first tournament of Spirit of Cricket was held in 1998 that saw participation from Telugu, Marathi, Goan, Parsi, Kannada, Bengali, and Tamil community teams. It has now grown into a steady annual feature in the cricket calendar of Auckland Indians.

The tournament was supported by V Giri of Relianz Forex, who has been a patron for the last five years. CricHQ, a digital platform for cricket matches, along with other community organisations supported the event.

As per the rules, the winner of the previous year is given the opportunity to organise the matches the following year, and this year, Tamil Super Strikers—winners of 2015—took charge of the event.

The tournament followed a two-tiered approach where the first round saw two pools of six teams each, who vied for selection to Super League. The second round saw two pools of Super League and Plate League and the top two teams qualified directly into Quarter Finals. The matches in the quarter finals were closely fought between NZ Kannada Koota, AIS, NZ Telangana City Boys, and Desi Warriors—the top four qualifiers. The semi-finals between NZ Kannada Koota and NZ Telangana was a close affair as NZ Telangana City Boys scraped through in a hard-fought match. Desi Warriors disposed of AIS to reach their fourth final in three years.

The finals between Desi Warriors and NZ Telangana City Boys, as expected, was a high-octane match. NZ Telangana City Boys lost the toss and were asked to bowl. Desi Warriors made their intent clear right from the word go and were on the attack, but the move didn’t pay as much as they had expected when they folded for 105 in 19 overs. The target was achievable, and NZ Telangana approached it with caution and got into trouble with their safety approach, however, some loose bowling by Desi Warriors allowed NZ Telangana City Boys to claw their way back and cross the final hurdle with three balls to spare. In another match, AIS easily disposed of NZ Kannada Koota for the third spot.

Sai Karnan from Probasee team was awarded as the Batsman of the Tournament, Arun Vejendia from AIS as the Bowler of the Tournament, and Farhan Syed Ahmed from Deccan Acers was awarded as the Player of the Tournament.

Migrant Community Cricket Club manages the tournament, and the preparation for the 20th edition has already begun.

“The 20th year of Spirit of Cricket Tournament will be a proud landmark for all of us,” Prashant Belwalkar, lead organiser of the Migrant Community Cricket Club, said.