Jiska Mujhe Tha Intezaar….

 

It was a chilly Sunday afternoon. The small crowd that had gathered was still abuzz after the thrilling finish in the D1 Championship game where Falcons had just won by 1 run. Ali Ibrahim was running around excitedly, high fiving and hugging every person he could find. He was, after all, a part of the D1 Championship team. With his camera in tow, he was taking pictures to catch the moments. It then dawned on him that the PD teams were getting ready to take the field. He tried to shift his focus to capturing the images of the pre-game activities, but he was still too distracted. Meanwhile, Shoaib Ahmed looked focused but a bit tense. He was marshalling his troops and giving last minute instructions to his Captain, Waleed.

Zolon won the toss and promptly elected to bat. Shoaib put on his keeping pads and gloves and was ready to take the field. Just then, DeeJay Jaan played the song, “Jiska Mujhe Tha Intezaar….” which resulted in laughter around the ground. Shoaib and I met, shook hands, and wished each other luck.

Taylor and Ross opened batting, while Kamran and Waleed opened the bowling. Titans found early success as in the 2nd over Waleed was able to get Taylor out. This is the third consecutive time that Waleed has got Taylor out. Mahesh went in to support Ross and the two played two or three overs, before Kamran’s length deceived Ross and he was caught at mid-off. Zolon was 30 odd for 2 wickets down. Roy Silva went in and played in his typical style. He does not believe in pressure and bats with a free mind. He was able to get a few runs on the board and started to give Zolon’s innings a momentum boost. However, before he could have a major impact, he was out caught on the boundary. Zolon was 60 odd for 3 down and three of our best strikers were back to the sidelines. Gourav went in next and was told to bat till the end. We knew if he batted through the remaining overs we will have a defendable target. Unfortunately, this was not his day. He was out after a brief stint and now Zolon was in a state of bother. Meanwhile, Mahesh was batting well on the other end and making sure to keep the scoreboard moving. He wasn’t splashy, but steady. Creary walked in and very quickly got a good measure of the playing conditions. He took no risk, but made sure he scored in singles on every ball. Mahesh was well settled and was providing good support to Creary. Both were running well, and the odd ball was being put away. After 16 overs, Zolon was at 102/4. It was now time to accelerate. The platform was there to get 40+ in the last 4. Both Creary and Mahesh changed gears and took on the bowlers. The two not only ran very well, but found the gaps for the 2s and the 4s. Zolon truly seized the opportunity with two set batsmen to get the runs on the board. So good was their batting that they didn’t give any chances, and didn’t slog. They played on the merit and backed their abilities to score effectively. The result was that they scored 49 runs in the last 4 to get the score to 151. The fifth wicket, unbroken, partnership resulted in around 80 runs. Mahesh finished with an unbeaten 55 while Creary with an unbeaten 39. What this speaks to is the depth of Zolon’s batting. The team does not rely on just one or two people. In different games, different people have scored to bail the team out of trouble.

Titans felt that if they could get a good start, they have the depth to overhaul this total. And they had a 5 run head start due to a penalty on Zolon, for the 12th man taking water into the field without umpire’s consent. Titans couldn’t have asked for a better start as the second over went for 15 runs, when Leveredge bowled 3 no balls that resulted in 3 free hit opportunities. In addition, Shoaib was in the zone and was taking Leveredge’s bowling apart. He was pouncing on his length and width and smacking him for 4s and 6s. After 4 overs, Titans were at 41/0. They had already brought the required rate down by a huge margin. But Zolon is one of the most resilient teams in the league. They have played so many big games that they don’t get fazed. The team stuck to its plans and introduced Gourav in the 5th over. This change paid immediate dividends as Ameeq was out bowled by Gourav. In the very next over, Shoaib was deceived by Roy’s ball and was out caught at short fine leg. The two settled openers were both back in the hut and two new players: Waleed and Rizwan were at the crease. Zolon kept the pressure and boundaries were hard to come by. The batsmen were trying to break the shackles and in the process Waleed lost his wicket to a very good ball. Rizwan however was batting well. Leveredge was brought back into the attack again, and Rizwan pounced on him. He hit him for 2 very good shots (a 4 and two 6s) and that over resulted in 18 runs. Titans were now at 90/3 in 13. The pressure had been released. However, in the very next over Rizwan tried to do too much and was out caught at covers to Roy’s bowling. Yet again, the pendulum shifted towards Zolon. They had the luxury of knowing that Titans needed to bat well to get to that score. All that was required was disciplined bowling so that Titans have to take all the risk. Titans did take the risk, but were not rewarded. Wicket after wicket fell and Titans slumped to 104/9 after 18 overs. Zolon bowled very well in this stretch and scoring was made very difficult. It was now the last wicket that needed to score 57 runs in 12 balls. The batsmen swung their bats and were able to get 3 good hits but it was never going to be enough. The last ball 4 brought the score to around 125/9. The star bowlers were Roy (4 wickets), Gourav (2 wickets) and Ravi (2 wickets). With this win, Zolon had completed a highly successful season where it won 3 Trophies: The Jefferson Conference trophy, the 40 over Championship and the T20 Championship.

Although Titans players were very disappointed, they were gracious in defeat. They all congratulated the Zolon team. Titans are a very good team and certainly had their chances in this game but Zolon’s experience and ability to do well under pressure made the difference. The presentation ceremonies were quick, as it was already getting dark, and it was cold. The 2015 WCL season came to an end and those who came out to watch this game witnessed very good cricket. There were some wonderful shots played, and some excellent bowling spells displayed. All in all, the game was played at a very high level. Thanks WCL for a wonderful season.

I would be remiss to not mention the hard work put in by the WCL Executive Committee to get the t20 tournament completed in trying conditions. It wasn’t easy with all the rain-outs and constantly changing schedules. You have our gratitude. Thanks!


 

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