The visit of Kajan Panthers from Malaysia to Chiang Mai had been looked forward to greatly by both teams but nobody was expecting the special occasion that transpired on a sunny Saturday at Gymkhana as the match between Lanna and the Panthers was tied in almost unbelievable fashion.
Lanna had batted first and their innings had progressed in fairly standard fashion as the two teams measured each other up. The home side looked in trouble at 32 for 3 but Richard Young and Shine Thomas steadied the ship with a stand of 64 as Shine recorded another hard-hitting 50 but when he was out 126 for 7 still didn't look too promising.
But Captain Pete had dropped himself even further down the order than usual and while Matt Bray pushed the singles to give him the strike, the skipper played a delightful cameo as he hit an unbeaten 34 from just 21 balls to take Lanna to a final total of 165 for 7 in 25 overs.
The first half of the tourists' reply again gave no hint of what was to follow as the openers started confidently with a stand of 32 in the first five overs and the distinguished Satchi and number three Rohan had taken the score to 73 for one in 12 overs when the two teams came off the field for a splendid late lunch provided by Sandy at UN Irish Bar.
The home side were hopeful that the large lunch made make an impression on the tourists and lo and behold Matt Bray had Saatchi caught and bowled for 19 with the second ball after lunch as he contributed a useful wicket maiden.
Chairman Tom had bowled an exploratory over before lunch but then followed with a remarkable sequence of wides and wickets as the chairman claimed three wickets in three legal balls as Richard Cowles took over the wicket-keeping to great effect as he took two stumpings and a catch with some impressive handcraft. Tom, however, could not claim a hat-trick as the first stumping came off a wide and his third victim managed to keep out one ball before charging down the wicket.
A total of 73 for 1 suddenly had become 75 for 5 and the match seemed to have been decided in the space of two overs but former Malaysia player Mervinder Singh had other ideas as he began to crash the ball to far off corners of the Gymkhana ground.
Captain Pete was not getting too worried as Matt bowled his five overs for just 8 and Richard Young also began steadily as the lower order batsmen were content to block and then to block again so that 57 were still needed from the last four overs. But Merv had got his eye in by now and Russell was the unlucky man to bowl at him.
16 came off the 22nd over as Merv hit the last three balls for four but at least he had kept the danger man off strike and Richard Young managed a wicket maiden sp the score stood at 125 for 7 with 2 overs left: 41 still to win and as it turned out 40 to tie.
Russell would have been proud of the dot first ball but six next ball brought up Merv's 50 from 31 balls and 646 and a single off the last ball meant that 23 had come off the over and Merv had kept the strike. Richard Young is a keen competitor even with a dodgy knee and only six came from the first four balls of the last over so 12 were needed from 2 balls.
Merv promptly hit his seventh six and just needed to repeat the shot and he had brought his side to victory in a style reminiscent of Javed Miandad. Only the next ball was speared down the leg-side and went for five wides. The scores were level and the field came in and somehow Richard of Cambridge found a straight ball and bowled Merv for 80 from just 41 balls.
Merv had played a wonderful innings which will remain long in the memory and the match had been tied after 40 runs had come in the last two overs and a wicket from the last ball. It was the perfect result for a marvellous match.
The beers flowed as the presentations were made and three bottles of whisky contributed by the Kajang Panthers were then consumed as plans were made for a Lanna tour to Malaysia so we could play in the return fixtures. The Panthers looked splendid in their orange shirts decorated with badges from both teams and Lanna caps were handed out to best bowler Kishur (2 for 18) and to best batsman Mervinder who played one of the finest innings ever seen at Gymkhana Club.
Thanks should go to the Kajang Panthers who were all wonderful tourists and provided some wonderful mementos of a splendid day. All present that day (and evening) hope that we can meet again soon.