After six weeks of continuous cricket, we have now reached the Semi finals stages, Before we move further towards the summary of both the Semi Finals, I would really like to enlighten our readers about the hardwork that ERCA executive committee has put up in bringing forward some better and competitive cricket.
I would really pull off my hats for the tireless efforts of Mr. Ashraf Sheikh who is the incharge of ground works and takes care of all the grounds, has put his heart out to keep the grounds clean and well maintained so that the teams could enjoy some good and better cricket. Not only has he maintained the grounds, but along with the efforts of ERCA Vice President Mr. Imran Rasheed, he has laid the foundations of two more grounds as promised by the association. The efforts speak for themselves without a doubt in shape of the infrastructure provided to the players to play some basidc cricket. In the coming weeks ERCA is planning to launch “One Day Champioship League”, and with the number of teams increasing, new grounds were surely required. As of now we know that the foundation of two new grounds have been laid and we nevertheless more to come.
Now, lets move towards the story of our 1st ever Al Tuwairqi T20 Championship Semi Finals. The first semi final was played between SAB Warriors C.C & Eastern Arabia C.C with Eastern Arabia C.C truly the favorites. SAB Warriors C.C started their campaign for the first time with season cricket ball, with a win against Britam Arabia Mavericks C.C. On the other hand they were facing a very well experienced and a balance side led by Captain Imran Rasheed, is considered to be one of the best side in the game, but who knew that SAB Warriors would hold up their nerves and play some extra ordinary cricket to emerge as winners, end of the day.
The toss was won by Eastern Arabia. The weather was a bit overcast but beautiful for batting. Eastern Arabia started very well, with their openers Abdul Rehman & Imran Rasheed hitting the ball all around the park, but they soon lost their first wicket when Captian Imran Rasheed was caught by Shoaib on the steaming delivery of Balu Biju George at the total of 49 runs. At one end some resistance was shown by Abdul Rehman but KLV Khodari Eastern Arabia, kept loosing wickets in succession at the other end. They lost 5 wickets in quick succession with an addition of only 35 runs on the board and at a stage they were 96/6. In desperate moment when the pressure was built from all the sides on Abdul Rehman, and in order to release that pressure, he wanted to go big, but a very good delivery beated his bat and he was bowled on 39(29) runs. He was the prominent socrer from KLV Khodari Eastern Arabia’s innings. He hit a total of 4 fours and a towring six beforme falling a victim to some outstanding bowling by Abdul Muthalif. KLV Khodari Eastern Arabia was 97/7 and it seemed as if they will be bowled out on their lowest total ever, but Mohammad Ilyas held his nerves and kept the score board ticking till the last ball of the innings. At the end of the innings the total score of KLV Khodari Eastern Arabia was 132/9 with Mohammad Ilyas and Ashraf Shaikh coming not out with 24(26) & 2(7) runs respectively, giving Eastern Arabia boys something to fight for. Mohammad Muthalif was the pick of the bowlers from SAB Warriors C.C who took 5 wickets by just giving away 18 runs only.
With 133 the target set on board, it always looked easy for SAB Warriors C.C, but early in the start of second innings, SAB Warriors C.C lost their Captain Salahuddin Salman on a steaming delivery of Abid caught by Afwan. It was an early set back for SAB Warriors C.C which brought Balu Biju George on the crease. Balu had been a consistent performer for SAB Warriors C.C since the start of the tournament. KLV Khodari Eastern Arabia has been well known for playing crunch matches and it was game on, but Balu Biju George, once again played a gem of an innings and carried his bat with a sense of responsibility to see his team victorious at the end. Balu played an unbeaten knock of 81* runs on just 38 deliveries with the help of 6 fours and 6 sixes. Abdul Muthalif who had been brilliant with the ball also helped Balu from other end by scoring a useful 30 runs before falling a victim to Zubair Jafarullah. In the end the target was easily chased down in 14.1 overs and SAB Warriors C.C became the first ever team of ERCA to enter the Finals of Al Tuwairqi T20 Championship. Man of the match was awarded to Balu Biju George of Sab Warriors C.C for his brilliant unbeaten knock of 81* runs and 2 cuicial wickets.
The 2nd Semi Final was indeed a crunch game which went till the last ball. It was played between Blue Star C.C and Kites C.C. Blue Star C.C won the toss and elected to bat in cloudy conditions.They lost their openers Muhammad Nazeem and Haider Ali early in the innings and they were 24/2, when their Captain Javed came at the crease. Javed always tried building a solid partnership but kept loosing wickets at the other end in quick successions. Javed Akhtar is known for his fearless batting, but he too had to play carefully and sensibly. He ended up scoring 40 runs on 39 deliveries. Blue Stars C.C ended up 138 runs in 20 overs. Shabeer Ali & Tariq Khan picked 3 wickets each for Kites C.C.
In reply, to the target of 139, Kites C.C had a very shakiy start and they were 1/1 in the second over, and then 32/2 and 52/3 respectively, when Abdul Raoof took the charge and played a sensible innings before getting a victim of some tight bowling from Abdul Naseer on 44 runs on 33 balls. Even the sensible knock from Abdul Raoof could not save them from a 3 runs defeat in the Semi Finals. It was a great effort from Kites C.C but Blue Star fought very well to defend 139 runs target. The spectators witnessed some beautiful run outs and outstanding catches which are just amazing to watch for any cricket lover. Man of the match was awarded to Javed Akhtar for scoring a useful knock of 40 runs in desperate times for Blue Star C.C which ensured they had something to fight for at the end.
So we have our two finalists, SAB Warriors C.C & Blue Star C.C. It will be a crunch Grand Finale. Both teams had crossed each others paths in the group matches where Blue Star C.C had defeated SAB Warriors C.C complrehensively. Will they be able to do the same again or will it be the disciplined boys of SAB Warriors C.C, who have always overcome their weaknesses and came back strongly each time and become the 1st ever Champions of this tournament, only time will tell us.. Do join us for the Grand Finale of our 1st ever T20 Championship and witness the crowning of the Champions.
ERCA T20: SAB Warriors CC, Blue Star CC emerge victorious