By Ritesh Patel
In a matchup of two perennial powerhouses of the Commonwealth Cricket League’s Premier Division, last weekend Seven Star CC rolled into Van Cortlandt Park to take on the home team PakAmerica CC.

Moshin Khan struck 66 in Seven Star win over PakAmerica.

Moshin Khan struck 66 in Seven Star win over PakAmerica.

Besides the long standing rivalry, the two were undefeated heading into this match.  The overnight/early morning rain had dampened the ground but the not the cricket spirit.  The rest of the day turned out be a scorcher on and off the field.  The fans were treated to a beauty, as the match hung in the balance until the last three balls of the match.

With Seven Star CC winning the toss, captain Vijay Seonarine stuck to his strategy of chasing on the road and defending at home. He sent PakAmerica in to bat first. In came the opening pair spear-headed by Hunain Munir, who had compiled two consecutive centuries to start the season.  The captain opened the bowling attack and for the 2nd consecutive week, took a wicket in his first over.  Although, the wicket will be recorded as caught by Nadir Mohammad, it should be noted that it took a super human effort from an outstanding athlete to make the catch.  The catch – Nadir, protecting the mid-off region just inside the 30 yard circle, ran in full sprint about 20 yards towards the long-off region and made an outstanding diving over the head catch.

Unfortunately in the process he landed on the ball and bruised his rib cage area severely and had to sit out for most of the game.  He was only down for the count but not out (more to follow later).  Things got better in a hurry for Seven Star CC as the wily veteran Krish Ketwaroo came on to bowl his off-spinners.  On his 4th bowl of the over, he had Hunain caught behind for a duck.  After this, things got worse for PakAmerica, with the scoreboard moving in slow motion, they kept losing wickets at regular intervals.  Outside of an hard-earned 46 from Sabir and a supporting cameo by Ali, the rest of the team folded like a cheap deck of cards.  PakAmerica were all out for 116 in 29.5 overs.  Notable bowling efforts from Krish Ketwaroo, Sarmad Khan, Vijay Seonarine,  Borge Narine (aka Ryan) Persaud, and Ritesh Patel.

Staring at a paltry target of 117 in 35 overs, and Seven Star CC having successfully chased scores of over 220+ in consecutive matches easily, the reply was expected to be quick and brutal.  As everyone knows though, you don’t win based on paper; you have to earn it.  Seven Star CC had to literally fight till the last man standing to earn this victory.  The reply started with Moshin “the rock” Khan and Andy Patel (taking Greg Sewdial’s place, who sat out the game) trotting out to the middle.  The pair was only able to put up 16 on the board before Andy was adjudged lbw.

PakAmerica capitalized on this momentum, and took the next two wickets with the total ticking over by only 1 run.  It was Sarmad Khan’s turn to steady the ship.  Normally, a cool customer, even he lost his wicket to a mistimed sweep, after scoring only 12.  At this point the score was 76/4 from 22 overs.

Luckily for Seven Star CC, the only and lonely star Moshin Khan (on 43 at this juncture), had anchored down at the other end and continued to build his innings as he usually does – calmly and confidently.  It was now time for the captain to steer the ship out of troubled waters.  The captain managed to keep his cool until the 31st over where his personal tally stood at 19 runs and the total at 111/6.  But similar to earlier wickets, the captain holed out at deep mid-on, while attempting a big slog.

Then the wheels started coming off the bus, as Seven Star CC lost the next 3 wickets for 3 runs in 2 overs, amongst them the prized scalp of Moshin Khan who departed for an invaluable 66.  The equation now was 3 runs required from 2 overs and one wicket remaining.  It all came down to Krish Ketwaroo and Nadir Mohammad who even though could barely move his left hand an inch and was still in all sorts of pain from the earlier injury, somehow mustered enough courage to pad up and headed out to the middle.

Had Nadir not stepped up, it was game over.  The penultimate over was bowled by Wahab Munir with ferocious speed and accuracy, but Krish withstood the hostility defiantly.  But a frustrated Wahab lost is cool during the over and had sent one down leg side adding one precious run to the total.  With needing one run to tie and two runs to win from the last over, PakAmerica handed the ball to Asad Ali.

All Asad Ali had to do was bowl six legal deliveries to a batsman who could barely grip the bat with any strength and was unable to walk straight without grimacing in pain at the slightest movement.  His first two deliveries were perfect yorkers, but miraculously Nadir was able to block them out. Inexplicably though, the 3rd delivery of the over was a wide down leg side.  The score was now tied, but PakAmerica still could have won the match.  All PakAmerica had to do was capture the last wicket in the next three balls.

Seven Star CC would have lost the match on the 2nd tie-breaker of NRR (PakAmerica had batted for 29.5 overs).  The bowler was able to gather his nerves for the 4th ball of the over, sending it careening down the offside channel – normally a good delivery but not when you know the batsman can barely lift the bat and you need the wicket.  To make matters worse, the 5th delivery was a wide – game set match over!!!

Congratulations to Seven Star CC for staying undefeated and PakAmerica for a valiant effort and almost pulling out the victory.

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