Saturday 21 April 2018 saw the Optimists Cricket Club start their Belgian Cricket Federation T20 campaign against Liege CC.
Blue skies, sun shining and - to begin with - all was right with the world. Skipper, Richard Neale won the toss and elected to bat.
Tony Whiteman and Richard Grundy opened the innings but, with Tony falling in the first over and Richard Grundy in the second over, it was down to Richard Neale and Vikram Vijh to rebuild the innings and start again.
The bowling was tight and runs were hard to come by and, after 10 overs, the Optimists were 58-2. However, Neale and Vijh started to increase the scoring tempo until Richard Neale was run out for 32. Vikram then really started to show his class and hit some aggressive shots to up the run-rate either further.
Vikram was joined by Saransh Kulshrestha and Joost Mees in cameo innings and eventually Vikram also succumbed for a brilliant 81.
After 20 overs, the Optimists made 161 with the loss of 6 wickets. A good score that the Optimists were confident of defending.
Vice-captain Saransh Kulshrestha opening the bowling and as was immediately apparent, Liege CC were going to attack from ball one - which went for six!
Pankaj Malav opened from the other end and clean-bowled the visitors' other opening batsman. The bowling was rotated but runs were flowing freely and after 6 overs, Liege were 60-1. Vikram Vijh then came on to bowl and had the golden touch. Clean bowling the Liege captain who made 55, then decimating the middle order - at one point he was on a hat-trick. After 12 overs, Liege were 97-5. However, the Liege wicket-keeper had other ideas and batted very well to get things back on track for the opposing side.
He was ably supported by their number 7 who, at the end, was also hitting some lusty blows to further dampen the Optimists spirits.
They hit the winning runs in the 18th over to much jubilation from the visitors' teammates and supporters.
There was a lot for the Optimists to learn from this defeat to ensure a better performance in their next T20 game next Saturday. However, it was an excellent day for Vikram Vijh who batted and bowled brilliantly and looks to be in great form this season.
Next Saturday see the Optimists play two T20 games in Ghent to try and ensure they go through to the finals day later in the season.