Cricket shone brightly in its historic debut at the PON Games in Jawa Barat. More than 200 young Indonesian players, many of whom had not even heard of Cricket till 2 years back, made Bandung sit-up and take notice as they demonstrated not only excellent team-spirit, but also a knowledge, keen-ness & grasp of the game that far belied their age & limited exposure.
Bali Putras, who benefited a lot from playing together regularly in the Bali League, won both the Super 8s & T20 gold medals, by showing demonstrating greater mental strength to win the key moments in big games. Their captain, I Kadek Gamantika, a long-term TIMNAS player, led sterlingly by example and emerged the Putra MVP of the tournament. Having had a relatively weak, batting performance through the fortnight, he was keen & pumped-up to make a difference in the T20 finals. And perform he did.
He lit up the Siliwangi stadium, with a fantastic 102 not out of just 51 balls. Many of the School kids, police-men & TNI personnel present at the stadium were treated to a fire-works display which included 7 fours & 7 sixes. Gamantika surely would have made his cricketing idol, Ricky Ponting, proud, as he raced to his ton with two 6s of the last two balls of the innings being bowled by the most economical bowler of the tournament, Desandri Candil Saputra. Gamantika also emerged as the highest wicket-taker of the tournament.
Muhammad Anjar Tadarus from Jawa Barat emerged as the Best Batsman of the tournament and though he fought valiantly in the finals, it wasn’t enough to get his team home to a win on that day. Some other stars among that emerged among the Putras were Rizky Tri Tubbi & Agi Saptiaza from DKI Jakarta, I Gede Dewa Putra Kisawa from Bali, Muhaddis from Jawa Barat & Presley Arron Manaha from NTT.
DKI Jakarta took home both the gold medals in the Putri competition. While Puji Haryanti & Annisa Sulistianingsih were their best performers, their success was characterized by an all-round team effort, and their energy & passion shown as a team was truly commendable. Although, her team didn’t go on to win a gold medal, Andriani from Jawa Barat stood out for her all-round consistency & emerged as the MVP among the Putris. Andriani, who had the unique distinction of playing for the Indonesian U15 boys team in the ICC EAP tournament in 2008 & also being selected for the All-stars team of the tournament, emerged as the highest scorer (198 runs) & also bowled well to take 9 wickets. Putu Sri Apridayanti emerged as the best Bowler. Some other notable performances included Ni Kadek Fitria Rada Rani from Bali, Tri Wardani Hamid from Sulsel & Yong Kartini from Kalimantan Timur.
The tournament was also characterized by its very professional organization including the use of International umpires, Live & transparent Internet scoring and smooth overall conduct. “The power of sport in fostering Unity in diversity was very evident in the spirit & energy shown by the cricketers at PON games. All the hard work being put in for more than 15 years by Cricket Indonesia has finally borne fruit & today, Cricket has emerged as a major alternative sport that not only binds the diverse youth of Indonesia, but also provides a new platform to accelerate future success”, said, a visibly delighted Abhiram Singh Yadav, the Vice Chairman of PCI and a key driver of the success of cricket at the PON Games.