A Thrilling Cricket Contest during Ramadan
By Tahir Ali
Shrewsbury - 7/19/2014 [Ramadan 22] : What do Ian and Greg Chappell, Subash and Baloo Gupte, Hanif and Mushtaq Mohammad, Najeeb and Faheem Syed have in common - you guessed it they are all diehards of cricket and real brothers, playing for Australia, India, Pakistan and Shaheen XI respectively.
A penny was tossed up and I called heads, and sure enough Abe Lincoln with a stern bronzy look showed face up. We decided to bat.
Zeeshan and Nipul opened - unfortunately a great loft by Nipul caught the corner of the bat and the ball destined to go over the fence landed safely in Sirish’s hand off Srini’s delivery. The first setback 0/1 was followed soon by a second setback as Zeeshan was caught by Sumanth on the bowling of Anil for just 4 runs. Lest it is construed this was just off the bat, both excelled in fielding. Fast forward: both Zeeshan and Nipul gave back in fielding what they couldn’t in batting - Zeeshan caught behind 3 catches, and Nipul covered a lot of ground with his fast running blocking many boundaries. He also caught a rather difficult catch of Vezli at the boundary line.
Shujaat and Faheem put Shaheen XI back on track – Shujaat put another 16 runs on the scoreboard before being dismissed by a lovely catch taken by Ashok on Shyam’s delivery. Najeeb joined his brother at the crease. Both brothers punished every loose ball and converted them into runs that also included a few boundaries. Faheem managed to knock two balls over the fence as well. Both brothers stayed on the crease until all 20 overs were exhausted - maintaining a partnership of more than 50 runs. Faheem scored a handsome 43 runs in 48 balls while Najeeb made 23 runs in just 21 balls. Shaheen XI's final score was two short of a century. Fine bowling from Srini, Anil and Shyam resulted in each taking a wicket.
Vijay and Sirish opened for the SCC and remained on the pitch quite comfortably while contributing runs at a much faster rate than Shaheen XI were able to in the first few overs. Zakir and Umair dismissed the two opening batsmen, but Anil pulled the team back in play, playing nice strokes and scoring a whopping 28 in 34 balls – until caught by Shujaat off Zakir’s fine delivery. Saswata and Shyam’s wicket fell rather quickly courtesy of Rafeeq and again, Shujaat. But all was not lost when Srini got in control and converted most of the deliveries into much needed runs. He played at a faster pace and allowed only two dot balls to score an impressive 27 runs. However, Shujaat did not let this go too far and managed to take Srinis’ wicket. With Anil out in the 16 th over and Srini out in the 18 th over, it was now up to Vezli, Chetan, Naveen and Smanth. Zakir who bowled very economically was also able to throw the ball quick enough to get Chetan run out. Rafeeq who also had a successful 3 overs dropped Naveen’s catch, but soon recovered the ball and got him run out, thus redeeming himself. Chetan’s 4, Vezli’s 4 and Smanth’s unbeaten 6 were not enough to reach the target of 99.
Now Gopi who was so energetic and coaching his team from the sidelines, picked up his back-pack and disappeared before the game was over, as if he sensed the outcome. Hey Gopi you were a delight. You single-handedly kept the momentum going for your team.
Both teams played well and exhibited great sportsman spirit. Ironically, this was SCC’s first loss in the 6 matches they played in the league.
Overall performance goes to Shujaat, as not only did he bat well, he took two important wickets and took a few good catches. Similarly Anil and Srini gave a brilliant performance both in bowling and batting for SCC. While fast pacer Naveen and Shyam kept the batsmen at bay for quite some time, one should not take anything away from BHAI BHAI who set the standard, as did Ashok and Kishore Kumar both brothers, who portrayed also as such in the film but unlike the Syed brothers – were diametrically opposed to each other - at least in the movie.