By Sham Ali
Scores: Everest 237 for 39 (S. Shahzad 78, A. Khan 47, V. Seonarine 36no, D. Sankar 35. D. Palmer 2 for 42) defeated Bleachers 236 for 7 (S. Dhaniram 127, D. Kallicharran 16. D. Mohamed 2 for 55, T. Walke 1 for 16, V. Seonarine 1 for 31, S. Dass 1 for 43) by 7 wickets.
Everest delivered a searing riposte to Bleachers when they gunned down the 236 needed for victory to emerged Champions in the New York Masters 35 overs competition at Idlewyle Park last Saturday. This was Everest’s 5th appearance in the finals in six years, and Shahid Shahzad ensured that the outcome would be very different in this final, so he led the Everest climb. He was overdue for a big score and before the match he said that this was his day.
Everest had momentum coming into this final after they edged out Crusaders in the semi defending 188 runs; a team that handed Everest four losses in four consecutive finals that included tie, but Everest kept coming with a never-say-die attitude. They stuck to their plan of attack with ball and bat in this playoffs round, and in this final after their captain Zamin Amin won the toss and elected to field. Bleachers crept along for most of their inning, however, a streaky burst in the last few five overs added some respectability to Bleachers total, but Everest had no need to adjust directions in mid-air as they read the opposition like an old story book.
Opening batsmen Debo Sankar; the architect of the semifinals victory was rather circumspect early in his inning and Everest must have wished for and reminisce on a brilliant 90 from Ganesh Ramsingh a final a few years ago, but Ramsingh recovering from surgery sat quietly watching, or Glen Lorick’s cameo on this pitch two weeks ago to seal an important victory, but not his one ball ‘explosion’ in the semi final.
And while Sankar was on ‘cruise control’ and playing the supporting role, a role that probably deceived the opposition into a false sense of hope, and one that encouraged a bowling change that played right into Everest plot. Shahzad, in this match, curb his aggressive tendencies, he exercised restraint, self preservation and that yielded a gradual accumulation of runs, and of course, it was mixed with the occasional open shoulders maximum. When Sankar finally went for a patient 35 the opening partnership had posted 75 runs in 15 overs, and Everest held the control of this final in their hands.
However, it was a solid 2nd wicket partnership stitched together between Shahzad and Amjad Khan; two belligerent batsmen at the wicket, that blew the lid off the Bleachers attack. Khan, the former US national player, is an accomplished batsman. He has a record triple century under his belt in a limited overs match. He was focused and in the middle you sensed a depth of resilience between this pair. The partnership swelled to 85 runs as they chiseled away at the eight bowlers used by opposition.
Shahzad looked poised for a ton, but was showing some signs of fatigue. He was adjudged lbw when he played a tired shot around his legs to a full-toss. His 78 runs came free and was a match winning one, he was due and he did his job. At 160 for 2, Everest fire was generating some heat on the opposition. Khan then played a loose shot and holed out on the mid-off boundary.
At 193 for 3, Everest’s fire was blazing and they had their heels on the throat of this opposition and kept it there.
It appeared at this point that Bleachers had exhausted their options with an attack that lacked potency. They did not possess a bowler with the capability to scold this Everest batting lineup; a batting line-up that has dept, variety, and muscles.
Bleachers had accumulated a formidable group of former nationals, and looked to be a very good outfit, but even that was not good enough to penetrate a solid Everest outfit. It was too much of an old story retold over and over again and one that Everest did not have too much time entertain. Everest had a few stars of their own making and they simply mixed old school techniques with conventional cricket to blow away their opposition.
Bleachers though fought had some fight and posted a total that was balanced on Sudesh Dhaniram; who paid tribute with a century, but it was not good enough to hold off Everest. It was earned and gave the Bleachers inning some hope. Hope that was balanced on a few dubious officiating. Dhaniram; the former Guyana national player was fortunate, as if it was a norm, to be handed a luxurious reprieve on 56. Zamin Amin beat him with a flighted delivery that drew him down the wicket and turned passed his edge. Cyril Choy whipped off the bails and the umpire stood unmoved, fingers tightly folded in a fist as if clasping the last charitable penny and said NOT OUT. It was by any measure a poor show. Choy woke up the clouds with a few of the ‘Queens English’ revealing the process of how man came to earth. The umpire must have heard some of that history. We would be shocked if he didn’t. He couldn’t be both blind and deaf, if so, that would make for a good script.
But Everest remained focused and marched forward. They did not bargain for any surprise in this final for there were too much at stake on one side. That was evident when Sham Ali struck J. Sylvester in the first over and the appeal went begging. But this final was a test of attrition and no one proved that more than the veteran Trevor Walke. At an age when most cricketers have had two decades of retirement and golf under their belt, he still seemed possessed by a ‘mysterious vitamin’ and a red 5 ½ ounce leather. The mystery of neither has ever been unraveled, defying conventional wisdom, and that was evident in his 3 for 11 in the semi final. But that was only half of the story as three edges went begging in his spell of 7 overs.
He repeated that performance in this final against a formidable opponent (at least on paper), in the middle the story has dramatic challenges. Walke is a crafty exponent batsmen frailties and a discipline bowler. He kept probing and this opposition searching for a black dot in a dark corridor, and on nagging length with a military line as he kept teasing the batsman’s edge with oohs and aahs. His 1 for 16 off 7 overs revealed little in an awe inspiring spell of swing bowling by a lion-hearted cricketer.
Conversely, Everest got their first breakthrough when Zamin Amin, now an Everest Masters poster boy, effected a spectacular run out. R. Staple(7) pushed to point and took off for a sharp single, Amin darted in, picked up with one hand and shy down the fishing stumps at the non-striker’s end leaving diving Staple sprawled. Everest was on fire. Walke then kissed Sylvester’s (9) edge. Dixeth Palmer(15) looked out of form and at the change Amin and Vijay Seonarine tighten the screws. Choy eventually got his answer at the other end when he stumped Dhaniram for the second time 71 runs later when Bleachers inning closed on 236 for 7 off the allotted 35 overs.
This was a bountiful Idlewyle batting surface and it would require ten major collapses from Everest batsmen to give this opposition; one that has a load of talent and knack of disgusting their deficiency, any glimmer of hope in this match. However hope is a tricky destiny, and it disappeared from this opposition quicker than a congoeel in a trench moss. It wouldn’t have gotten any better for Bleachers with David Mohamed, the opposition’s nemesis, padded-up pacing and smiling looking for a conversation, any conversation. He was not supposed to be there, yea right!
Sohan Dass was padded-up and sitting relaxed, he loved that, his turn will not come. The captain is going ahead of him. Choy, the work-horse was still talking to the clouds about his stump-out. Glen was disturbing everyone with calls, and the boys deliberately did not answer him, that was very risky. He was the man who took the initiative and was responsible for Everest team playing cricket in 2016. He suddenly suffered attention deficiency and he wants to face-time from Texas. He was probably padded-up.
Sham had his thigh pad on, that’s all he managed to put on all season, and is still hoping for a knock. Krishna was hoping too, but didn’t care. He made sure that the boys were fed and a few had an 80% liquid proof of ‘something,’ Trevor had changed. He had enough of this ‘nonsense’ and chewing on something. No need for him to bat. That would be a mission, but he has two very good bats in his bag, one is still new. His bag has more than it can hold when all that he needs is a pair of bowling boots.
Amjad, head in hands occasionally wiping away the sweat, was still breathing heavily for throwing his wicket away. It was an example of the intensity in which Everest boys approach this final. Ganesh, a bit chilly by now, was perhaps saying to himself ‘allyu’ fooling around with this match. That bowling on that pitch, I would have finished this already. He can talk. He has 500 runs twice in this competition. Ashmul was a pleasant surprise absorbing the victory. Feezo Sheriff did not change into his whites as 12th man for this match and the captain did not tell him anything, they are friends. Yes! He occupied the best view in this match though and could not hesitate to let the guys know how tasty this victory was after he was handed a ‘hallow decision.’
Everest Masters is a good team, and one that has demonstrated that winning and losing is taken in the same spirit. However, an opposition can be sure to expect a keen contest. They have had years of this, and at a time in life when they might have been more comfortable in hammock under a mango tree swinging and sipping chilled coconut water, but instead they exemplify the notion of true cricketers.
By this time the fire in Everest camp was blazing out of control, and their batsmen surgically dismantled this opposition bowling attack. Seonarine- the former Guyana national player, added some uniformity to his inning on the closing overs with some school techniques. He had point to prove and something to drink, maybe an ‘eye-opener’ that cleared the way for a massive six in the penultimate over; it was a telling blow to the mid-section that knocked the wind out of this opposition. Glen was on face-time. Everest is on fire.
Zamin Amin wanted a piece of the show, he has the propensity for these late over heroics and he walked ahead of David Mohammed at the fall of Amjad Khan’s wicket; by this time this fish was too small a fish for David to fry. Zamin subsequently delivered the telling knockout punch with a dismissive maximum in the same over that went back over the bowler’s head. The ball hid among the trees, and the champagnes went with it as well. And in this final Everest Masters were unwavering and relentless in their pursuit throughout. They remained steady in the shadows of the late afternoon, and as the sun set beyond the horizon Everest peak shone brightly with the championship crown sitting perfectly at the top.