An evening of team bonding in a well known Chinese restaurant ensured that Lanna were ready for the second match of their tour as the minibus headed for the Selangor Turf Club, one of the nicest of Malaysia's cricket grounds set inside a famous race course, where Sunday's opponents would be Kelawar CC.
Horses were indeed in evidence as we arrived, fresh from their early morning gallops, and Suppiah the groundsman was preparing his pitch saying that it would be at its best in the afternoon but Lanna were happy enough to bat first on a firm wicket having lost the toss.
Richard Cowles, fit to play with a stiff back, was promoted to open with Martin Cardno so Lanna had a formidable opening partnership and the score rose quickly before Cardno was undone by an in-swinging yorker from a bowler who had largely specialized in short and wide. Cowles was soon lbw as he was stranded in front of his stumps but Lanna soon discovered they had found yet another star player to bolster their ranks.
Murad Ali looked untroubled as he calmly stroked the ball around a small ground with a very fast outfield and Jun also batted well before he was run out for 22. Walter Persaud came to the crease with a clear plan to bat to the end of the innings as he gave himself time to get his eye in while Murad reached a fine fifty.
Sami, a fine young prospect, came on to bowl and had Murad caught behind for 68, and followed up by dismissing Sukrit first ball as he was unable to clear mid off. Walter began to produce some fine attacking shots to ensure Lanna would have a good score on the board and captain Matt Bray supported him with 32.
Walter was left stranded on 49 not out as Matt was dismissed in the last over and Hamish Weir faced the last three balls of the innings although he did hit one of them for six to take the total to an impressive 229 for 6 in 30 overs.
A lunch of noodles was followed by a very interesting chase as Kelawar needed to score at 7.66 runs per over. Rohit is a classy opening batsman and he showed that it is possible to score at a fast pace without hitting the ball in the air. He hit a string of boundaries through backward point and through the onside and only began to open his shoulders as he was approaching his century.
A fine innings ended on 107 when he was caught at long on and it did look like Lanna would prevail as Martin Cardno took two wickets in an over and 33 were still needed from the last three overs. Cardno went for 14 but Walter came on to bowl a fine over and 13 were required from the last over with two tailenders at the crease.
Kelawar is a Malaysian fruit bat and the logo of the club on their splendid red shirts and with rain falling one bat was flying high but it was Junaid's as he lost control after some wild swings. He finally got hold of one from the middle of his bat and it slipped through Jun's fingers for six as tension built.
Athar made even even better contact with the fifth ball of the final over as the ball sailed hard and high for six to bring Kelawar victory by three wickets to end a splendid match in memorable style. Cardno had had his Ben Stokes moment as his last two overs went for 28 but it had been a highly enjoyable two days of cricket.
It is hoped that this will be the first of many overseas tours for Lanna as the team was a wonderful blend of cricketers who usually play for Lanna or Lanna Thais, strengthened by some high quality guest players. Two young Thai cricketers, Jun and Cher, were financed by Lanna, their sponsors and by Chiang Mai Sixes, and they will have gained so much from being involved in some high standard adult cricket and by visiting a new city. The boys avidly watched the IPL in the evenings as well as Leicester City's match towards the Premier League title.
We were lucky to meet some great supporters of cricket in Malaysia such as Chef Azmir who met us on the first evening and Ramani Batulamai who took care of us on the last evening. His descriptions of junior cricket development in Malaysia were highly impressive but the three grounds with grass pitches in Chiang Mai may see a string of Malaysian teams coming to visit in future years.
Simon Caffrey had helped put together the first match against SSR and provided the food from his restaurant on Sunday, while Ben Webb President of Kelawar CC had been instrumental in staging the match at STC at short notice and generously looked after us at close of play.
The great enthusiasm of Matt Bray had seen Lanna's first overseas tour get underway and the great experience of Walter Persaud had got the tour back on track after a few logistical problems had appeared to block our way.
A fine weekend both on and off the field and hopefully the first of many overseas adventures for Lanna.
Lanna 229 for 7 (30 overs)
Murad Ali 68, Jun 22, Walter Persaud 49*, Matt Bray 32; Sami 2 for 25
Kelawar 231 for 7 (29.5 overs)
Kelawar won by 3 wickets
Rohit 107; Martin Cardno 2 for 54, Murad Ali 2 for 33