Feb 15 2014, the Sevens, Dubai
Following two days of overnight rain, match day dawned bright and sunny. The Wombats won the toss and elected to bat first intending to put up runs on the board and give the Mavericks a run for their money. The decision seemed to backfire with Omar Hayat, the wicket-keeping opener of the Wombats, edging the fourth ball of the first over from the Mavericks pacer Shehzad to be pouched behind the stumps by his counterpart Asad. With the scorecard reading 2 for one, Tauseef walked to the middle and set about building a partnership with Shehryar of 41 runs mixing caution with aggression. First change bowlers Noman and Danish bore the brunt of the attack launched by Tauseef (27 off 22 balls) before Hadi came back to remove his wicket. The Wombats captain Haroon Ghaus strode out to the middle and continued the counter attack with Shehryar. The veteran opener built his innings at a sedate pace, sneaking singles and doubles while punishing the loose balls dispatching them to the boundary. His innings of 44 off 57 balls, studded with a huge six over long on and four boundaries around the ground, came to an end when he was caught by Danish off the bowling of the left arm spinner Ali Raza. The pair of Haroon and Sherry had put on 63 in 54 balls taking the score to 106/3 in 16.4 overs. The gentle spin of Murtaza claimed Haroon’s wicket with only 3 runs having been added. This brought the attacking middle order batting pair of Masam and Muqtader to the crease and with less than 9 overs to go, much was expected of the duo basis their past exploits. However, the duo was able to add only 15 runs to the score before muqtader fell to the bowling off leggie Baquar Hussain. Hadi claimed Masam’s wicket in the next over with the score reading 129/ 6 in 21.2 overs. With 22 balls to go, Munad and Ali Bajwa got together and started to rattle up the score with quick running between the wickets and in no time had put together 42 runs in 19 balls. Ali Bajwa flat batted a six to long on while Munad smashed one to the same region. Ali got out after scoring 12 off 10 balls. Atif butt striding in at the fall of Bajwa’s wicket remained not out on one, having taken a single to give strike to Munad who hit the last two balls of the last over for a four and a six. The Wombats innings ended at 172/7, setting the Mavericks a target of 173 to win off 25 overs at less than 7 runs per over.
The Mavericks opening duo of Noman and Ali Reza started cautiously taking 4 runs off the first over from Tauseef. In the second over bowled by Abid, they opened up and plundered 10 runs, forcing a change in bowling at that end. Atif Butt, as first change bowler, together with Tauseef plugged the flow of runs and built pressure at both ends. Tauseef bowled Noman in his next over with the score reading 21/1. The Mavericks wicket keeper Asad strode in and managed to score 6 runs before being caught by Haroon off the bowling of Atif Butt. Murtaza walked in and built a partnership of 42 off 30 balls with Ali Reza, who hit two consecutive boundaries off Butt’s bowling. Abid was brought back into the attack and was taken for 11 runs. Awais Usmani, the mystery bowler, introduced into the attack to try and stem the tide of runs, conceded only 2 runs in his first over while his brother Hammad, bowling from the other end, enticed Ali Reza to spoon a catch to Abid. This was the turning point of the match as the shoulders of the Wombats fielders were starting to slump in the face of the partnership that was building up between Ali Reza and Murtaza. Ali made 25 runs off 29 balls. The score read 73/3 off 11 overs. The Usmani brothers continued to bowl to an attacking field and were successful when Awais claimed the wicket of Murtaza (23 runs off 24 balls). The fourth wicket had cost 20 runs in 17 balls. New batsman Rizwan and Mazher kept counter attacking and took the score to 134, a partnership of 41 runs. During this period, play was interrupted for a short while with a few words being exchanged between the players. The incident seemed to have been sparked by comments about the bowling action of one of the bowlers. The umpire restored order and the game continued uninterrupted. With 45 runs required off 36 balls, Haroon turned to his “go-to man” Masam to bowl an inspirational spell. Masam did not disappoint and struck with the fourth ball of his first over and got the wicket of Rizwan, caught by Tauseef. Though the over went for 10 runs, the wicket proved to be a valuable one. 33 runs off 30 balls was still within reach of the Mavericks and the pressure was on the Wombats. A wicket fall in the next over bowled by Atif Butt which cost 8 runs and the match seemed to be interestingly poised. With 27 required off 24 balls and 4 wickets in hand, the Mavericks seemed to have the upper hand. However, Masam struck a double blow in his next over conceding only 2 runs. Mazhar was caught behind by Omar hayat off Masam’s bowling for 23 while Abid caught hadi off Masam’s bowling. Having taken 2 wickets off consecutive balls, Masam stood a chance to take a hat-trick. The equation boiled down to 25 runs required off 18 balls. Atif butt bowled a tight over and picked up the wicket off Danish, caught by Ali Bajwa. To secure a win, the the last wicket pair of Shariq Haroon and Baquar H were required to score 21 off 12 balls. Masam conceded 8 runs in the penultimate over, leaving Hammad to bowl the last over defending 13 runs. Hammad conceded 2 runs off the first two balls and picked up the wicket of Shariq Haroon off the third ball of the over, sealing a victory for the Wombats. With the fall of the last wicket, the entire wombats team and the supporters Umer Chugthai, Irfan b, Shariq Sayani ran into the middle and celebrated a hard fought win.
A exciting match with a nail biting finish. Hoping for many more such victories.