By Ammar Khan
Last Sunday, under overcast grey skies, Boyds Cricket Club took on Continental Cricket Club in a crucial Division 1 clash in the Washington Cricket League. Both teams were coming in desperate for success after rain out in last week’s games. Boyds CC, led by Shabbir Adrali and banking on the performances of the talented USA national all rounder Adil Bhatti, and mercurial opening batsman Charan Singh, were unbeaten in 2017 and were hoping to go to the playoffs as the undefeated top seeded side from the Division. Continental CC on the other hand, had suffered set backs because of some crucial losses and rainouts, and now found themselves in a must win situation against a red hot Boyds CC team, hungry for success.
The start of the match was delayed by an hour, both teams graciously allowing the local under 15’s to finish their game, which was also scheduled on the same field. After Shabir Adrali of Boyds CC won the toss, there was little hesitation in what he wanted to do. Bat first, score big, and get the opponents out cheaply. What followed was something no one could have imagined. A record-breaking day for Boyds CC, and more importantly for the very talented and amazingly gifted Adil Bhatti.
Boyds CC’s opening batsmen were under clear direction to go hard at the start. Boyds had a long batting line up and because of the success of Adil and Charan this year, most of the middle-order was short on practice, and today was an opportunity to get some of these players some time in the middle. Boyds started strong with Adil launching an effortless straight six off the fourth ball of the match. Ominous signs for Continental!
At the other end, wicketkeeper Mohammad Kashif, promoted to open the innings ahead of Charan Singh, hit two boundaries to either side of the field, and within no time Boyds CC was off to a rocket start. In the next over, Adil playing without his signature blue helmet, decided to test the opposing captain and opening bowler, by charging down the wicket and hitting a boundary over cover. That boundary incidentally would become a rare commodity over the next hour and half. After a sedate third over with only one boundary coming off it, Adil Bhatti came into his own, with two straight sixes in the next over, putting players playing in the adjacent field under some danger.
With each smack from Adil’s bat, one could easily make out the awestruck “oohs” and “aahs” of the under 15’s packing their bags, but turning around to see the ball flying a good 80-90 yards, with their coaches and parents immediately slipping in some words of wisdom and inspiration. Kashif soon realized that this was something special in the making and concentrated on giving most of the strike to Adil from then on. Adil duly obliged and consistently started hitting a couple of boundaries every over. One of the swivel pull shots that landed beyond the boundary over square-leg, seemed almost as if Adil had hit it as an afterthought. The easiest six runs of his career, one excited teammate exclaimed. Soon it dawned on everyone that out of a team total of 65 runs Adil had raced to his fifty in the sixth over of the inning, with five sixes and a solitary boundary.
Teammates started speculating that there was an easy hundred in the making, while the captain of Boyds CC Shabir Adrali, sent in instructions to his batsmen to up the scoring rate and go for the kill with Continental CC bowlers utterly helpless against the onslaught. Adil didn’t need to be told twice as he went berserk in the following 10 overs. Six after six started flowing from his bat. Players playing in the adjacent field, slowly started losing interest in their own game, and would frequent the scorers in Boyds vs. Continental game, inquiring about the team score which eventually became an inquiry about how much Adil had scored. Adil Bhatti’s journey from 50 to his century in the 13th over, took no time at all. He punctuated his sixes hitting with an occasional four here and there, just to have some variety in his scoring shots.
Noticeably, there wasn’t a lot of hard running between the wickets by either batsman, a move that proved to be a masterstroke in the end, with all the energy spent on scoring boundaries. Continental CC bowlers seemed helpless against the onslaught, and by the 12th-13th overs their heads were down, and it seemed that they had accepted the outcome as a fait accompli. Soon, Boyds CC players were up on their feet along with players from the game in the adjacent field. Everyone it seemed had momentarily forgotten about the greater context of the game and focused on witnessing a double hundred in a T20 contest.
With two overs to go in the inning, Boyds CC captain Shabir asked Kashif to “retire hurt” and let the other big hitter in the team Charan Singh, have a go as well. Charan strode out and decided along with Adil to give him most of the strike. Adil needed 35 at the start of the 19th over and 17 at the start of the final over. He hit the second ball of the last over for a six, missed the third one and sliced the fourth to be caught at midwicket fence at an astonishing 189 off 74 balls with 20 sixes and 10 fours. That he scored 29 runs out of 189 by running was unbelievable. Boyds CC finished at 239-1 at the end of the 20 overs, with everyone giving a standing ovation to Adil for his amazing knock.
Continental CC never stood a chance against an experienced Boyds CC bowling attack, and never got going. With Adil taking a deserving break from opening the bowling, recent addition Ammar Khan and captain Shabir Adrali opened the bowling, and immediately had the Continental CC batsmen hopping around with some fiery pace bowling. Shabir took a wicket in his first over and the very next over Ammar struck for the first time. In the following two overs he took two more wickets, and while Shabir took a break after bowling only two overs, there was no respite for the Continental batsmen. Kushal Reddy and Akhil Sehgal also chipped in with a wicket each. Akash Pathak then rolled his arm over and put the squeeze on the Continental batsmen who looked helpless against some tight spin bowling.
In a bold move, Shabir threw the ball to Charan Singh and Roshan Rao, both top order batsmen who couldn’t recall the last time they had bowled in a competitive game. The cherry on the cake arrived when Charan took one wicket and Roshan got two from the only two deliveries he bowled. He will be on a hat trick in the next T20 game he plays, which will be in September. Continental CC were thoroughly outplayed and dismissed for 81 in the 19th over, giving Boyds CC a win by 158 runs.
A day that started with overcast skies, turned into a sunny afternoon where the under 15’s and everyone in the crowd witnessed one of the best T20 innings in Washington Cricket League history, a spectacle that was thoroughly backed up by some fine bowling from Boyds CC. All in all, it was a decent day for cricket in the D.C, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) area.