In September 2015, Prague hosted its second Pepsi Cup tournament. Five teams participated, with the Czech President's XI taking on two clubs from Switzerland as well as the Swedish T20 champions, Evergreen CC, and our friends from Italy, Stone Tower CC.
The competition built nicely on the success of the inaugural 2014 tournament, which was won by the hosts. They couldn't repeat their victory this year, with a lacklustre batting performance putting them on the back foot immediately with an opening-day loss to Winterthur CC.
Eventual finalists Evergreen and Geneva 11 Stars CC laid down a marker with crushing defeats of Stone Tower in the other opening-day matches, and both teams carried on to take wins in the Friday morning matches. Geneva captain Afzaal Sikander scored an impressive 75 not out, which proved to be just enough for his team to hang on and beat the Czech President's XI by 6 runs, despite local star Sudesh Wickremasinghe's 54-ball century.
Later on Friday, Winterthur used a fast start to chase down 163 against Geneva in the all-Swiss clash while the Czechs got off the mark with victory over Stone Tower. Evergreen and Geneva met in the early start on Saturday, with the Swedish team a bit sluggish as they allowed 190 runs before being bowled out inside 17 overs.
Saturday was Family Day at the event, with a good crowd of spectators on hand to enjoy the matches, as well as plastic kits available for the children to give the game a try. In the middle, Evergreen bounced back to chase their target against the Czech team inside 14 overs, while Winterthur chased down Stone Tower's 184 with the aid of a fantastic unbroken 123-run stand between Idrees Haque (89* from 58) and Asad Mahmood (70* from 33).
With all teams having played each other once, Evergreen ranked first on run-rate and qualified directly for the final. Geneva beat Winterthur by two wickets in a tense finish to reach the final, and Bilal Alavi smashed a quickfire half-century as the Czechs beat Stone Tower in a high-scoring match to set up a bronze medal match against Winterthur on the Sunday.
The Czech President's XI took third place overall as they survived a stop-start encounter with Winterthur as blustery weather affected the first match on Sunday. The Czech team bowled well in reducing the Swiss team to 81-8, before Pradeep Fernando dragged his team to respectability with a top score of 33. But the target was always low and when Duckworth-Lewis was applied, the Czechs were able to push the pace before claiming victory.
In the tournament final, Afzaal Virk set the tone early on for Evergreen, smashing 52 off 20 balls in an opening stand of 70. Khalid Ahmed hit three sixes in an explosive 12-ball innings as the Swedish team piled up the runs, finishing on 211-6 from their 20 overs. Geneva were always under pressure from the run rate, and Irfan Mian's spell of 4-15 removed any doubt as he helped to reduce the Swiss team to 97-7. They scrapped to finish on 163 overall before Evergreen could finally celebrate lifting the Pepsi Cup!