By Sam Sooppersaud
The Richmond Hill Lions stacked up their third Public Schools Athletic League championship when they convincingly defeated the Jamaica Beavers at the Baisley Pond Park cricket field, on Saturday, June 17,2023.
Earlier forecasts called for rain on the day of the game, but instead Mother Nature smiled on her boys. She gave us ideal cricket weather; not a drop of rain, a mid-70’s temperature, and with a refreshing breeze blowing across the playing field. Coupled with this gorgeous weather was the large crowd of cricket fans, parents, and schoolmates who turned out to support their favorite school.
It was an exciting day; of cricket and of camaraderie. On hand, also were our local cricket commentators, Lenny and Matthew Achaibar and Carl Bennett, who called the ball by ball plays and added their color and insights to the proceedings. Umpires were Krishna Singh and ICC Panel Umpire Steve Buckner.
At game time the players and officials stood at attention for the playing of the United States National Anthem. The toss was spun and the coin rolled in favor of Richmond Hill, who elected to take first strike.
Openers Soayed Mostakim and Muhammad Momin walked out to the middle to commence the innings. They didn’t walk back out for the next nineteen overs. They plodded along scoring very slowly. In fact, only 19 runs came in the power play. As Skipper Momin explained later, going slowly at first was their strategy. They wanted to get settled in and then once set, and without loss of a wicket, they can “turn it on”. By the way, they did exactly that. It was apparent that Jamaica was on top restricting the run rate. But, a shock was coming!
At the halfway point, 10 overs, the score was 50 runs, far below what could be termed an ideal score. But it seemed that Richmond Hill Coach Lomarshan Persaud and supporting fans were not worried. They were confident of their batsmen’s ability to improve the tempo of the scoring. This the batsmen did, with 37 runs coming in the 11th and 12th overs combined. We saw another 16 runs in the 16th over, then a 22 run over. Then 31 runs in an over: Momin hitting four consecutives 6’s and a 4. The conflagration was on! The flames were fanned by the poor fielding efforts of the Jamaica squad. They dropped Momin when he was 13, and then again on 23. He later got another reprieve when he was in the 90’s. By this time “the cuckoo had already flown the cage”!
Soayed Mostakim himself was let off twice. Runs flowed! The Jamaica squad ended the Richmond Hill innings on a high. In the 20th over both Momin and Mostakim were caught in the deep off consecutive balls. A ray of light for the hapless Jamaica Beavers. Something for the Jamaica supporters to cheer about.
The innings closed at 192 for 2 wickets. Mostakim, 53 off 57 balls, and Momin a spectacular 122 off 62 balls. He set two records: hitting 12 maximus in an inning and scoring the first ever century in a PSAL finals.
Jamaica started the run chase on a positive note with 11 runs coming in the first over. They were up to the task! But then disaster struck in the third over. They lost a wicket with 20 runs on the board. Wickets continue to fall at regular intervals. The only resistance came from Redwan Islam (35) and Md. Mahmud (13). The score sheet for the rest looked like a number on a telephone keypad. The Jamaica inning closed at 116 all out. Richmond Hill walked all over them winning by 76 runs. I heard a fan remarked that “the lions are having Beaver for dinner”. A funny piece of anecdote! Bowling for Richmond Hill, Soayed Mostakim (3 for 21) and Muhammad Momin (2 for 8) completed an all-round performance. They wrecked the Jamaica batting machine.
At the end of the game a presentation ceremony was held. Trophies were handed out to players who had performed well in various categories, during the season. Muhammad Momin was awarded the honor of Man of the Match. On a special note: A Newcomers Lions player, Behesti Chowdhury was recognized and awarded trophies as follows: player of the series; 4 centuries; a double century (first ever by a batsman in PSAL cricket); highest total runs, 2009 runs, in the season; and highest batting average, 177.0. Several other awards were handed out, for performances in bowling and other areas. Of course, the presentation of the Runner-Up and the Championship Trophies.
It was a good day of enjoyment for cricket. Everyone had fun!