|STAND UP FOR THE CHAMPIONS! Villa Park lifted the title after defeating the Cougars on a last ball thirller; Lahori Express M. Ahmed (3 wkts) named MOM|
|STAND UP FOR THE CHAMPIONS!Villa Park lifted the title after defeating Cougars on a last ball thriller |
On a beautiful Saturday evening American Cricket Conference held the final of it’s prestigious 10th Annual Night Tournament proudly sponsored by Superior Medical Supplies. Two finalist Cougars and Villa Park were no strangers as it was a re-match of 2008 Night Final. This time Villa Park won the toss and decided to use their heavy willow against discipline Cougar bowling line up. Danger man Zeyad Imtiaz (8) opened with his partner in crime Mujtaba Baqir (8). But on the big day this consistent pair failed to display the usual flare. Cougars were in commanding position from the get go as they held early catches to peg back VPCC scoring rate. Haris Imtiaz (38) came in and was soon joined by “Mr. Dependable” Fawad Agha (10). Both batsmen start taking single and doubles with occasional boundary to release any pressure built by Cougars. Haris was on top his game as he played some classic shot to dissect fielding consistently. Fawad was next to go off the bowling of Ahmed Ghani (2) as Cougar fielders swallowed catches at the boundary with ease. Skipper Uzair Ali (16) along with remaining power hitters escalated the run rate in the later overs. VPCC lower order stumble to some accurate bowling but Arsalan Ali (19) and Arif Hockla (13) chipped in with some useful runs to take Villa Park score the respectable 126 in 20 overs. Considering the pressure situation of the final, score was very reasonable to defend. Akheel Pathan was the top bowler from Cougars with 3 wickets, Salman Khan and Ahmed Ghani chipped in with 2 wickets each.
Villa Park’s formidable bowling line up was against the might of Waseem Khan (34) and Amjad Shafique (5). Both batsmen started off cautiously by taking single and doubles at will, but this quick running eventually led to the down fall of Amjad as a direct hit from Fawad Agha sent him packing. Danish Malick (10) joined Waseem Khan and started the recovery process. With time Waseem looked more and more comfortable at the crease, as he smacked couple of glorious boundaries and a huge six over mid-wicket. With VPCC attackers going for few runs, Uzair handed the ball to pacy but erratic Muhammed Ahmed also known as “Lahori”. Many wouldn’t have expected any thing even close to what M. Ahmed scripted in the remaining game. He bowled with pace and accuracy and broke the back bone of Cougar’s batting, including Waseem Khan, Danish and Airaj Wahab (4). All of a sudden a Cougars were 5 down with Zeyad (2) also chipping in with wickets. Nitin Gujaran (16) joined by Akheel Pathan (24) dealt with the challenge with common sense and kept taking single and occasional doubles. VPCC completely dried the boundaries with Fawad Agha and Haris Imtiaz responsible to bowl the final 2 overs in which Cougars needed 22 runs. Akheel Pathan stuck into Haris’s last over and took astonishing 14 runs out 22, leaving only 8 runs for Fawad Agha to defend with two set batsmen at the crease. Fawad bowled a dot ball first up but Nitin pulled the second ball for easy 2 runs, but with out knowing where the ball was, Nitin left the crease for the third run and opportunistic Uzair whipped the stumps to get lucky break through for VPCC. With confidence boosting high for Villa Park but Fawad couldn’t control his line and bowled a crucial wide ball. Now Cougars needing 5 off 4 balls, Urooj (1*) took a single to bring back Akheel on strike. With Cougars needing 4 runs to win and dangerous Akheel on strike, Fawad probably bowled ball of his career, an in-swinging yorker to send Akheel’s leg stump cartwheeling as VPCC players and supporter erupted with joy. Ground was buzzing with excitement, as Imran Khan (0) took the strike but now roaring Fawad got him out next ball and with Salman Khan (0) facing the last with 3 runs to tie Fawad Agha finished the game with another swing and miss with Uzair running out Salman Khan.
It was a breath taking final with crowd loving every minute of the game. Lahori Express with brilliant figures of 3 over 12 runs and 3 wickets named MVP of the finals. It was really a dream come true for VPCC; as they lifted their first T-20 Championship. It was a complete team effort to stay undefeated and win the trophy.