Mar 7, 2014, the Sevens, Dubai
Match #3 of the Dubai Super League at the Sevens Grounds dawned to a pleasant morning sky with a few scattered clouds. The Wombats had won their first match of the league against Booz & Co. and were keen to keep the winning streak going while NBF, having been beaten comprehensively by The Cricketers Club in their first match of the League, were looking forward to turn the fortunes in their favor.
Wombats won the toss and elected to bat first and set a stiff target for the NBF to chase. The Veteran openers Sherry and Omar Hayat strode to the middle with a intent of imposing their authority on the opposition. Mohsin Ali started the bowling for NBF and bowled a good length tying the wombats openers down. His bowling partner also maintained the pressure from the other end and the duo has conceded only 11 runs in the first 17 balls. The first wicket fell when the NBF wicket keeper whipped off the bails for Omar Hayat to be found short of his crease. Attacking South Paw batsman Azim Khokar strode in to the middle but was given out run out off a direct throw by NBF’s Kashif Hussain , leaving the Wombats top order shaken at 11/2 off 3.2 overs. Tauseef walked in and started aggressively, stroking a 4 off the first ball he faced and following it with another boundary after 2 balls. Taz and Sherry combine daggression with caution and built up a partnership which saw the wombats score cross 50 without any further loss of wickets. The duo had put on a partnership of 62 runs in 44 balls when Sherry was caught by NBF’s Ali Mohsin off the bowling off Arona. This brought together the experienced duo of Taz and the Wombats Skipper Haroon and they had a strong platform to build on. However, Arona had other plans and struck in his next over to have Taz caught behind by Nauman , after having played an entertaining knock of 28 runs off 23 balls studded with 4 fours. The score read 91/4 off 12.5 overs. Next batsman Munad Akbari and Haroon put on a 28 run partnership off 24 balls which included 12 runs scored off an Arona over with 2 fours and a 3. Munad fell to the bowling of the off spinner Mufaddal, given out LBW, after a breezy innings of 17 runs off 13 balls. Ali Bajwa joined Haroon in the middle but the partnership put on only 7 runs before a direct hit found Ali Bajwa short of his ground. Much was expected of the broad shouldered lad from Canada, Masam, who strode in at the fall of Bajwa’s wicket. However, Masam fell to an accurate throw to the bowling end while trying to sneak a quick single. He played it to mid off and responded to Haroon’s call but the throw beat him to the crease. The NBF team’s throws seemed to be finding the stumps and the wombats batsmen were finding themselves short of the crease. At the fall of the 7th wicket , out strode the uber-fit NAeem Abbas. The duo ran quick singles and doubles and put on a run a ball partnership of 34 runs. Naeem rattled up 18 runs off 16 balls with 8 singles and 3 doubles, a testament to his fitness levels. It took the NBF duo of Arona and Mohsin Ali to get Naeem out with the score reading 165/8 with 3 balls for the innings to end. The elder of the Usmani Brothers, Hammad, joined Haroon at the non strikers end and the duo put on 7 runs before haroon was run out of the last ball of the innings while trying to take a single. The Wombats innings ended at 172/9 which possibly could have been a whole lot higher but for the 5 run outs which helped the NBF team to slow down the scoring rate at crucial intervals.
NBF wicket keeper batsmen Nauman and Abid Iqbal opened the innings facing up to Taz, who bowled a tight over conceding only 3 runs. Hammad bowled the second over and started with a wide before finding his control over the new ball and struck with his fourth ball of the over getting Nauman out caught by Ali Bajwa. Naved Sheikh joined Abid Iqbal in the middle and the pair tried to force the pace of the innings. Hammad proved wily to the situation and struck again in his second over, claiming the wicket of Abid iqbal, caught by Masam for 7 and the scorecard reading 12/2 in the 4th over. The new batsman Ali Mohsin joined Naved and the duo set about performing a recovery act and took the attack to the wombats bowlers. Hammad was hit for a six off the next ball and that over cost 9 runs while yielding a wicket. Naeem abbas came on as first change bowler and conceded 6 runs in his first over which included 3 wides. Taz went for 10 runs in his fourth straight over with two Fours and two singles. The Wombats mystery spinner Awais was introduced into the attack and was taken for 7 off his first over. The Usmani brothers bowled in tandem between the 9th and 15th over conceding 34 runs before NBF’s Mohsin Ali was caught short of the crease by a lightning fast throw from Munad Akbari. With this ended a fruitful 68 run partnership between Mohsin Ali and Naved Sheikh. Awais struck with the first ball of his 4th over, bowling Lias for 1. With the score reading 82/4, the wombats seemed to be getting a hold on the game. NBF’s star all rounder Arona joined Naved and the duo took the score to 140/4 , stitching a partnership of 58 runs in 39 balls which included 3 fours and a massive six to long off struck off the bowling of Munad. The partnership seemed to be assuming threatening proportions before Haroon struck in his first over , the 21st over of the innings. Haroon claimed the wicket of Naved who scored a gutsy 61 runs off 57 balls, which included 4x4s and 2x6s.NBF’s Mufaddal joined Arona and the pair put on 17 runs in 14 balls. Masam Malik’s overs were proving to be expensive and he had conceded 33 runs off his first 4 over. The match was getting tight with 33 runs required off 24 balls by NBF to clinch a win. At the end of the 22nd over, NBF required 27 runs to win and had 4 wickets in hand. Bowling the 23rd over, Haroon’s first ball was lofted for a 6 by Arona and the next 4 balls were taken for 5 runs before he broke through the defences of Mufaddal and knocked his stumps over. With 16 runs required off 12 balls, Masam was given the responsibility of bowling the penultimate over. The first ball was heaved for a 6 by Arona and he took a single of the next ball. The third was a dot ball while the fourth and fifth balls yielded a single each. Arona managed to get 2 off the last ball of the over and Masam finished with figures of 5-0-44-0, the last over going for 11 runs. It all boiled down to the last over with 5 runs required by NBF to secure a win. Taz came on to bowl his last over and the first ball was taken for 2 runs. He struck with his second ball of the over , striking Arona on his pads and the umpire raised the dreaded finger , declaring him out LBW. With 3 runs required, Taz sent down a wide and followed it up with a dot ball. As the tension intensified onfield, Rana Nadeem of NBF hit a four off the fourth ball, winning the match for the NBF. The Wombats were crestfallen at the result while NBF were elated. 5 run outs and 21 wides had proved expensive for the Wombats.