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Israel cricket season preview

    The new domestic season is just a few days away, with the first set of matches scheduled to commence March 26.

    Once again the 18 league clubs will be divided into two divisions, eight teams competing in Division 1 and 10 in Division 2. A new team Modi'in/Bet Shemesh will also compete in the T20 tournament, hopefully a stepping stone to becoming a fully fledged league team next year.

    A number of changes have been made to the structure of the domestic leagues, the most significant being an increase in T20 cricket.

    Division 1 teams will play a full league of T20 matches with the top two teams meeting in a final, whilst in Division 2 the teams have been divided into two regional zones, with the zonal winners playing in a final.

    The Division 1 league format is unchanged, although there is a change to the Division 2 league structure; the 10 teams have been divided into two groups of five based on last years standings, with a second round of play-off matches between the top three and bottom two of each group. The increase in T20 cricket means a record number of senior matches - over 130 - will take place during the coming season.

    Looking at the title contenders in Division 1, defending champions Ra'anana 1 will probably again be the team to beat, although runners-up Lions Lod will be highly motivated to regain the top spot they had held for so long.

    Young Ashdod challenged for the title until the last weekend of last season and will be title contenders once again, whilst the two Sri Lankan teams, Sri Lanka Jerusalem and Sri Lanka Tel Aviv, who both earned promotion from Division 2 last season, are sure to cause a few surprises. Division 2 seems wide open with no obvious title contenders, the perfect recipe for a very exciting league.

    This weekends matches sees Sri Lanka Tel Aviv take on Ashdod 'A' in the 10am match and Young Ashdod in the 1pm match - both in Ashdod, while Sri Lanka Jerusalem open their account by taking on Lions Lod at 10am and Lod Rangers at 1pm - both games in Lod.

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