At last, the moment that long awaited has arrived, the moment for which all the member of ERCA committee and ERCA cricketing community, the Grand Finale of 1st ever T20 Championship, sponsored by Al Tuwairqi.
Before I move on towards the complete story of our highly spirited and balanced game of Finale, first, I would like to put some light on the efforts of whole ERCA executive committee, who has worked day and night, to lift the level of cricket to its heights now. No matter where we will end up from here, but I can surely say onething for sure, that one day we all will rejoice the moments spent together, on or off the field. I would name out some of the persons, without whom we could not have been able to reach the point, where we are today. Mr. Ashraf Shaikh the curator of grounds and pitches and along his side, Mr. Imran Rasheed (Vice President) ERCA and Mr. Jibran Butt, the jack of all trades, these people ensured that on the day, when it matters the most, cricket is outstanding. Our spectators not only witnessed an outstanding final but they also witnessed an amazing prize distribution ceremony at the end. It reminded us of our earlier days when we used to play in a different region and have witnessed some similar prize distribution ceremonies. That trend has come back now for the cricketing fraternity.
I would also like to name out the voluntarily efforts of Mr. Anfin, who has been true supporter of ERCA and now our committee member as well. I would also like to mention the name of Mr. Aftab Magre, who has made sure that we all are updated with the complete individual players performance at the end of the day, as he did a wonderful job in creating the players data base, which can be viewed under each player or team’s profile on CRICCLUBS app.
Now coming towards the marvelous story of our finals, it was a clear, bright and shiny day, and our Grand Finale was played at ERCA’s Eden Garden between so far unbeaten Blue Star C.C & SAB Warriors C.C. Blue Star C.C unexpectedly opted to bowl first after winning the toss. SAB Warriors sent in their finest batsmen, but unfotunately they lost their opener Muhammad Fayyaz early in the very first over, without scoring a run. It led to the arrival of Balu Biju George on the crease. Balu Biju, was coming in strong from his performance of Semi Finals and his stay on the wicket was cruicial for his team to put up a good total on the board. And boy, he did that beautifully. Although he gave a chance while he was playing on 29, when he was dropped by Abdul Naseer on long on, but after that he made sure that he stays at the crease as much as he could. SAB Warriors were going strong with the loss of one wicket and 90 runs were put on the board, when Muhammad Muthalif was caught by Salman on the delivery of Mohammad Ashraf. He scored 35(30) runs, and gave a solid partnership to SAB Warriors, which was well required after the loss of an early wicket. Soon afterwards, SAB Warriors lost their 3rd wicket at the total of 103 runs and this time it was the cruicial wicket of Balu Biju George. Who once again scored a beautiful knock of 61 runs on just 38 deliveries. He was also bagged by Mohammad Ashraf. After that SAB Warriors were unable to put up a solid partnership, though later down the order a small cameo was seen from Asif who scored 17 useful runs on just 8 deliveries, helping SAB Warriors setting up a considerably fighting total of 161 runs on the board for Blue Star C.C to chase down and achieve glory. The intensity was increasing in the spectators as everyone was eager to see, which team will hold up its nerves, and be crowned the champions.
In reply, the start from Blue Star C.C was not as good as they too lost their first wicket of Haider Ali in the very first over on a swinging delivery of Umar Farooq. In walked the in form Abdul Naseer, who had to face some swing bowling from Umar Farooq. He too was unable to judge the superb bowling from the experienced Umar Farooq and was bowled out just for 2 runs. They were now 10/2 and in walked their Captain, Javed Akhtar, who also had been carrying a superb form from the last pool matches and the Semis. And surely he started showing some brilliant shots, there was a point when he also hit 3 consecutive fours to Ashfaq Shaikh. He was looking solid at 17 runs before he too fell a victim to some superb swing bowling from Umar Farooq, who managed to make him miscue an inswinger straight up in the air, which was brilliantly held on by Balu and Blue Star C.C was now in deep trouble at 31/3 and 5 overs of powerplay were already gone.
Muhammad Nazeem, was still at crease but little he could do to watch his team getting out on some beautiful piece of bowling from Umar Farooq who baged another important wicket of Mohammad Ashraf and completed his four overs for 17 runs and 4 wickets. Later on some resistance was shown down the order by Nasir and Salman, but it was too late and the run rate had gone up. They were eventually bowled out by SAB Warriors C.C on 131 runs to achieve the glory. Abdul Muthalif & Umar Farooq bowled superbly and bagged 4 wickets each for their team. Mohammad Nazeem was the top scorer from Blue Star C.C innings with 28 runs on 26 deliveries. Moinuddin Nasir also chipped in with a little small cameo of 23 runs on 17 balls. Who knew that the team participating in any seasoned ball tournament for the first time would play so beautifully to be crowned the CHAMPIONS. What a moment, for SAB Warriors C.C, there were joyous cheers all around their camp. The match was so intense that it put the umpires under a lot pressure to decide for the man of the match. There were two nominees for sure, Abdul Muthalif and Balu Biju and it was a long debate between the umpires and the match referee for the man of the match, and it was decided to be awarded to Umar Farooq for his swinging spell, which definitely made the difference and took the game away from the oponents, the spell of 4 wickets for 17 runs in 4 overs.
ERCA had come up with solid planning, each and everything seemed as if we have watched this previously on our televisions, and indeed the whole ceremony was like a dejavu of the ceremonies we have witnessed on our screens. ERCA had called up dignitaries including our CEO Mr. Abdullatif, Jarnail Singh from Al Tuwairqi, Mr. Shoaib Niazi from INAT, Mr. Irfan Zafar Syed who is a former player and founding member of Yanbu Cricket Association and Mr. Awais Nazim from Saudigulf airlines to give away the prizes. Each person present was a winner that day, and I would really like to thank our dignitaries and chief guests for taking out time from their busyness and coming over to the grounds, witnessing and creating history.
Man of the tournament and best bowler was awarded to Kiran Gorizilla from Kites C.C for his 17 wickets throughout the tournament. Best Batsmen was awarded to non other than Balu Biju George for his 303 runs in total of 7 matches with 4 marvellous fifties. It was also seen for the first time in this region, that the outstanding performers of a tournament were awarded with many prizes including air tickets to their homelands. The air tickets were given to best batsmen, bowler and man of the tournament.
Champions were awarded with their medalions and a cash reward of 2,500 Saudi Riyals as well. Mr. Ashraf Shaikh was also given a momento for his outstanding, untiring efforts, and contribution for in making the ERCA grounds, what they are today.
At the end I would say that ERCA, has given us all a lot in a span of just under a year, and the finals we witnessed along with the prize distribution ceremony, its memories will always cherish in the minds of people who worked hard, day and night to make it successful and look as colorful as it seemed, for their entire lives. ERCA has already announced the upcoming tournament called as “One Day Championship”, and its just time that we should see another team be crowned as champions in the longer format of the game. Till we get on with our next tournament, I will leave you with some marvellous memories of the below.
SAB Warriors crowned as first ever T20 Champions in ERCA