21 Feb 2014, The Sevens, Dubai
Match #1, Dubai Super League 2014
Another bustling Friday morning with a cool breeze at the 7s witnessed an unprecedented occasion this weekend. Two Wombats sides playing side by side. 22 guys, focused on being the best they could be and win, win for the glory of what Wombats has become. Indeed, it was a coming of age for a conscript army that has come a long way since its inception, and as a testament to ‘building capability first’ both teams won convincingly, as ‘results and performances’ ensue.
Wombats vs Booze & Co was an interesting matchup, not in the least because of the conspicuous nature of both teams’ respective names… At one end of the corner were Waste of Money Brains and Time and the opponents at the other end, appeared more like their name’s sake, not necessarily consulting, but more on the live demo of verbal bovine fecal matter (bull $&^T) reminiscent of a drunkard!
Wombats elected to bowl first on a typically dew soaked outfield and a green top wicket. Atif Butt justified the decision with brilliant bowling; his hooping in-swingers were too much for the opening batsman as his first ball took the inside edge, only to be dropped. The reprieve didn’t last long when a couple of deliveries later, another huge in-swinger made a mess of Mohammad Ashraf’s stumps. And then began the carnage …A short while later, Atif Butt displayed his brilliance again by running out Anil Pandey off his own bowling with a direct hit on the stumps; unconfirmed reports suggest that Awais Usmani was heard as far as Ras Al Khaimah when he screamed “Butt maarrr!!!”
Tauseef bowled a mixed spell, clearly struggling for rhythm, returning from injury. He, however, bowled a gem of an over in his 3rd. Swinging the ball away, toying with Ariz Khan, the batsman, playing and missing, much like a cat would play with a trapped mouse. 11 cats against one mouse, didn’t really stack up and in sheer frustration (and ridicule) Ariz swished against the line of an out-swinger and ballooned a catch to Hammad at extra cover. Hammad, coming in as first change, started with some spectacular channel bowling, but was unlucky as 2 catches were dropped in his first over, one at backward point and the other at slip. Bustling in, he has really been a handful this season, breaking partnerships and making life tough for batsmen. Wickets continued to tumble as Rashid took a blinding catch at the long on boundary of the bowling of Hammad, until a brief partnership between Booze batsmen, BinAmir and Sadaqat, both scoring 29 and 28 respectively. Munad bowled a superb spell of 3 overs at the death snaring the wicket of the dangerous looking BinAmir to end with figures of 1 for 12 in his 3 overs. Booze & Co. were bowled out for a competitive 167. Intelligent captaincy by Haroon, mixing and matching his bowlers with impeccable and alert field placements, ensured that the Booze & co total didn’t soar too far out of hand… 168 is gettable for Wombats!
Probably the best opening stand by the Wombats was on display as Shehryar Nagaria and Ali Bajwa led the assault on the Booze opening bowlers. Displaying excellent balance between aggression and solid defence in batting. the partnership yielded 83 in the first 10 overs. Shehryar showing the rather annoying bowler where the boundary was to fetch the ball from his third consecutive four. Shehryar has gone from strength to strength this season, scoring his first 50 of late in 47 balls. His wristy shots sometimes defying belief as he smacked the bowlers with some rapier like cover drives and eloquent flicks. After a measured 27 of 33 balls, Ali Bajwa returned to the hut, playing a fantastic support role to Shehryar, demonstrating an impressive technique and flare with his willow. That brought Tauseef to the wicket, and a relatively simple finish required, he scored a nifty 50 of 33 balls, facing bowling that was borderline atrocious at times… prompting to tell the annoying wicketkeeper – “when I hit the next ball for six, go and fetch it”… Tauseef hit a four, lucky keeper! Reminded everyone of the Javed Miandad – Kiran More incident of past!!
With the departure of Shehryar, out walked Munad Akbari, who simply made a mockery of the bowling with a thudding drive to the mid on boundary and followed it up with the only six of the innings with a shot to deep backward square leg.
Wombats showed huge intentionality with their aggression, method with the clinical performance with bat and ball, though 5 catches were dropped, and the efforts of the team collectively becoming fitter, stronger and faster. Brilliant day out… What a testament to “player capability first, results and performances follow”! Bravo!