By Girish S Kumar
After defeating star studded Cougars in the semifinals by 10 wickets Chicago entered the finals to face another heavy weight team Liberty Medical / SBH. Ahmed Askari picked up the man of the match for the semifinal. The finale festivities and ambiance was embraced by the crowd that gathered to watch the much awaited Gold Cup finals between Liberty Medical / SBH and Chicago United (CU).
Liberty won the toss and put Chicago United to field. The roaring CU players were very well prepared to take on Liberty Medical / SBH with a game plan from Chicago’s most experienced skipper, Sami M. Khan and was very well executed by the CU bowlers and fielders.
Chris Watson opened the bowling and troubled the openers Shaheer Hassan and Fahad Babar. Ahmed Askari from his very first over showed aggression and picked up a wicket of Fahad Babar (4), caught behind by Tristann Coleman, former WI U19. Chris picked up his first wicket Shaheer Hassan (4) – powerful hit but brilliant catch by Santosh! With deep batting, Liberty Medical / SBH were 8 for 2 in the third over. Former Pakistan first class player Agha Sabir (29 in 31 balls) stroked and swept the ball well to provide some stability to Liberty’s batting.
However, CU bowlers dominated the Liberty Medical / SBH batsmen. All the CU bowlers (Chris, Askari, Najam Iqbal, Koti and Santosh), bowled exceptional well. Rather top exemplary performances supported by extra ordinary fielding. Shayan Ali, Venkatesh Naidu, Ahmed Askari, Hasan Bemat etc demonstrated great agility and took brilliant catches. A delightful sight to those who watched them live.
Liberty Medical / SBH was grounded to 124/10 in their 20 overs. Going into bat, Chicago United openers didn’t do anything differently from the previous matches – batted brilliantly! The opening duo of Tristann Coleman and Yaseen Bahmaid kicked of their batting very vibrantly and maturely. They demonstrated experience with the bat. Tristann (79 in 48, 4×4’s , 6×6’s) supported by Yaseen (41 in 42, 3×4’s,2×6’s) were the batting force that entertained the crowd with their powerful and well timed, maximums.
Liberty Medical / SBH used eight bowlers in an attempt to stops runs. Unfortunately did not have any bandwidth to stop these dreadful batsmen who played all the bowlers very comfortably. Agha spun the ball well with 2-0-7-0 to slow down the runs downpour but was late. CU lost their first wicket of Tristann with two runs short of a win.
Chicago United won the finals with a huge 9 wickets win in the 15th over! CU had very deep batting. Batsman like Hassan Bemat, with his bat can make the ball leather smell. In his two outings Hassan Bemat scored 145 runs in 60 balls with a not out. A delight to see the ball fly off Hasan’s bat to several 80 – 90 meters maximums. He demonstrated top class batting and would have been easily rated as best batsman of the tournament. With just two innings, he topped the charts as #3 batsman.
Najmi and Santosh earned their spots at #4 and #3 in the overall tourney bowling charts at the awards ceremony, several Chicago area’s cricket dignitaries, leaders and media / press were present. The winner and runners up trophies were presented along with Man of the Series (Yaseen Shaik of CU) and Man of the match (Tristann Coleman of CU) trophies. Yaseen Shaik and Chris Watson were awarded the Best Batsman and Best Bowler awards for their efforts and topping the charts. A successful and historic outing for the Chicago United.