Mar 8, 2014, the Sevens, Dubai
The month seemed to be full of double header weekends for the Wombats as they geared up to taken on ABB in a friendly match at the Sevens Stadium Dubai. The Wombats had played their second game of the Dubai Super League the previous day and had lost to NBF in a closely contested game. The bench strength for the wombats helped them pursue a rotation policy, giving the players a much needed break between games.
The game was played at the newly constructed ground #3 at the sevens ground which with its lush green outfield made it a perfect setting for playing a cricket match under the afternoon sun on a sultry summer day. The Wombats were being led by Muqtader Shah with Munad Akbari standing in as his deputy. Top order batsman Ali Bajwa had donned the wicket keeping gloves for the day. Having won the toss and elected to bat first, the Wombats got off to a disastrous start when they were reduced to 18/4 in the first 5 overs of their innings. A new opening combination of Ali Bajwa and Atif Ilyas was being tried out and failed to make an impact against good line & length bowling by the ABB bowlers Binoj and Nidhin. Ali Bajwa was the first to go, caught by Shahbaz off the bowling of Nidhin. Ammad Jami joined Atif I at the crease and the duo tried to counter attack. Atif hit a 6 over midwicket , one of his favorite strokes and followed it up with a four to fine leg. Nidhin struck with the next ball, catching Atif on his crease reducing the Wombats to 13/2. Muqtader shah, who walked in with intent of playing a captain’s knock, returned to the dressing room without opening his account after a very brief stay in the middle when he failed to keep out a ball from Binoj which stayed low. Southpaw Daniyal Nazir went in and much rested on his broad shoulders. ABB Binoj however had other plans and got Daniyal out caught at short mid on by Amandeep , leaving the Wombats tottering at 18/4. The absence of batsmen like Haroon Ghaus, Tauseef Qadri, Sherry seemed to have weakened the batting line up and it appeared as if the Wombats would be bundled out for a low score. The ABB bowlers were getting the ball to swing and seemed to have got a good grip on the match. New batsman Umer Chugtai joined Ammad to try and take the Wombats innings to a respectable total. Ammad Jami continued to play his natural game, unaffected by the fall of wickets at the other end and with the ABB bowlers bowling into his legs, he swiveled on his hips and struck 3 fours towards fine leg, tow of those coming off the bowling of Nidhin on consecutive balls and one off Binoj. The due added 18 runs to the score before the 5thwicket fell, Umer Chugtai falling to a catch taken by Ayaz Butt off the bowling of Khurram. Reeling at 36/5 with more than 17 overs to go, the Wombats team faced the prospect of being bowled out for a score well below 100. Munad Akbari joined Ammad Jami and the pair started to try and see out Binoj and Nidhin and then take the Wombats innings to a respectable innings. Batting sensibly they started rotating the strike and restricted themselves to ground shots, negating all risks attached with aggressive stroke play. The first signs of taking the attack to the opposition was seen in the 11th over which was taken for 8 runs. The pair kept knocking the ball into the gaps and picked up singles regularly and the odd double by putting pressure on the fielders. They took the score past 50 and continued to build a partnership. They upped the ante and scored 28 runs of the 15th,16th and 17th overs bringing up the 50 run partnership. Ammad had started to tire after having spent nearly 16overs at the crease and this was starting to tell on his running between the wicket. The resistance finally ended with Syed Hussain getting Ammad Out LBW for a praiseworthy 41 runs off 48 balls. The 6th wicket partnership had pulled the Wombats from the edge of an abyss which they seemed to be headed toward when they had been reduced to 36/5. Ammad’s innings included 6 fours and 15 singles and a double. At the fall of this wicket, Masam Malik joined Munad. The lad from Montreal failed to live up to expectations, skying a ball to mid off giving an easy catch to Dileep and another wicket to Syed Hussain. ABB seemed to have got their strangle hold back on the game when Usman Alam walked into the middle and joined Munad. The pair continued running aggressively between the wicket and put on 30 runs for the 8th wicket, taking the score to 124/7 when Munad, who seemed to be headed for a well deserved 50, was run out for a well made 44 runs of 37 balls , an innings which featured 3 fours, 7 twos and 18 singles. Munad had played a vital role and with Ammad & Usman Alam had taken the score from a dismal 36/5 to a respectable 124/8. The ABB bowlers seemed to be tiring and were losing control over the ball, bowling wides and no-balls. Shariq Sayani joined Usman Alam and then started the carnage with the duo putting on 36 runs off 24 balls which included 2 fours off Usman’s bat and a massive 6 clubbed by Shariq over square leg in the last over. Usman Alam was run out on the last ball of the innings trying to go for a single. He plundered 30 runs off the 25 balls he faced while Shariq remained not out on 16 (12 balls,6×1,2×2,1×6). The Wombats innings ended at 160/9 off the allotted 25 overs. For ABB, Binoj bowled an impressive spell of 5-0-15-2 while Nidhin ended with 5-0-44-2, while Syed Hussain took 2 wickets for 36 and Khurram took a wicket conceding 31 runs off their 5 overs respectively.
Requiring less than 6.7 runs per over, the ABB innings began aggressively with the opening duo of Khurram and Ayaz Butt scoring 14 runs off the first 2 overs bowled by Munad and Rashid. However, Munad struck in his next over taking the wicket of Ayaz Butt caught by Ammad for 3. Syed Hussain and Khurram put on 30 runs for the 2nd wicket which included 13 runs taken off the first over that shariq came on to bowl. Just when it looked that the two would take the game away, the introduction of left arm off spin bowler Daniyal Nazir turned the tables. Daniyal deceived Khurram with a flighted delivery and Ali Bajwa did a quick job of whipping off the bails and stumping Khurram. The batsman had made a run a ball 25 in his 35 minutes stay at the crease. This brought the chief wrecker of the Wombats innings Binoj to the crease and his innings lasted for 7 balls before shariq had him LBW with the score reading 48/3 at the end of 9 overs. Shariq struck again in his next over claiming the wicket of Syed Hussain who was also given out leg before , having made 18 runs off 25 balls. The Wombats seemed to be getting back in to the game with the ABB team reeling at 58/4 in the 11th over. ABB Wicket keeper Rajesh Menon and Amandeep Singh put on 19 for the fifth wicket before Daniyal and Bajwa teamed up again to get Amandeep stumped. Ali Bajwa was show casing his abilities as a wicket keeper while Daniyal was deceiving the batsmen with his flight and drop. Daniyal struck again with his next ball , getting the new batsman Rupesh to lob back a return catch. The ABB innings was reeling at 77/6 in 15 overs, with 83 runs to win off 58 balls. The Wombats had wrested the initiative and had fought their way back into the game with tenacity and grit. Shariq had figures of 4-0-27-2 when Masam was introduced in to the attack in the 15th over. Masam bowled a tight line and length conceding only 7 runs in his first 3 overs and also picked up the wicket of Dileep, reducing ABB to 94/7 at the end of 19 overs. In the meantime, Daniyal had completed his 5 overs , conceding 20 runs and taking 3 wickets. With victory in sight, the captain Muqtader came on to bowl his gentle leg spinners and his 2 overs were taken for 18 runs. Munad was brought back into the attack and claimed the wicket of Rajesh Menon , who had made a patient 21 off 31 balls. Atif Ilyas took the catch. Nidhin and Saad put together a quick fire 20 run partnership off 18 balls for the 9th wicket before Masam knocked back the stumps of Nidhin. The last wicket to go down was that of Shahbaz, bowled when he missed a low full toss from Rashid. The ABB innings was wrapped up at 133 giving the Wombats a 27 run victory just as the day light faded in the background.
Highlights of the match were the knocks of Ammad Jami, Usman Alam and the all round performance of Munad Akbari, & Shariq Sayani.