- Published in National League
Cosmos Warriors etched their names into traditional cricketing folklore with a convincing 31-run win over Pak Land to notch their first Pakistan Premier League title at its fifth edition on October 14.
Even the persistent drizzle did little in dooming the day with the players and officials, equally pumped up to deliver a fitting finale to what had been a memorable season of thrilling tape-bal cricket.
Crowd favourites Pak Land had a smooth campaign enroute to outlasting Khan XI by 18 runs in the semifinal whereas Cosmos Warriors ensured there would be no upset at the last four hurdle with a 36-run triumph over ‘big hitters’ Afridi XI.
But in the do-or-die final, Pak Land had themselves to blame for the no-show. Their star man Zohaib Butt, who picked up the Man of Series gong, was the villain when he dropped Cosmos Warriors’ star man Taimoor Mirza off the first ball of the match.
Mirza rode his luck and tonked the opposition into submission with a 20-ball half century of 62 runs as Cosmos set 108 for 4. Umer Bhai added 22 off 11 and Cricket Cranes vice captain Brian Masaba stroked one six in his five-ball cameo of 12 with none of the bowlers managing any impressive figures.
Then when Pak Land needed quick runs, none of their top six going with Butt (14 off 7), Tahir Nazir (6 off 2), Ali Malik (5 off 12), national captain Roger Mukasa (7 off 4), Jamshed Mughal (0 off 1) and Umair Iftikhar (1 off 3) all falling cheaply.
Tail-ender Cricket Cranes all-rounder Emmanuel Isaneez (24 off 8) stood tall but never matched his understudy in the other dugout Kenneth Waiswa, whose figures of 4 for 10 in 2 overs, ensured Pak Land couldn’t score more than 68 runs when it mattered most to confirm Cosmos Warriors 30-run triumph. Twelve teams to part this season.
FINAL - PPL SEASON FIVE
Cosmos Warriors 108/4 Pak Land 68/10
Cosmos Warriors won by 30 runs
Pak Land 120/5 Khan XI 102/7
Cosmos Warriors 163/2 Afridi XI 127/4
THE TOP PERFORMERS
Man Of Series:
Zohaib Butt (Pak Land)
David Wabwire 12 wickets (Pak Land)
Taimoor Mirza 451 runs (Cosmos Warriors)
Best Play In Final: Kenneth Waiswa
4/10 in 2 overs
Aziz Damani Cricket Club! Yes, that one.
It is the name on everyone’s lips in circles of the Gentleman’s Game.
They have bossed the Jazz Safari National League season like never before. Their unbeaten run of 10 wins in as many defines their prowess.
They are 18 points clear at the top of the eight-team log with a maximum 60 points. That statistic has a motto: ‘Do not mess with us,’.
Damani has beaten every team and their cruise sees them now a win away from their second league title in two years.
Even if there are four matches to play, Damani only need to beat second-placed Kutchi Tigers at Lugogo Oval today to be affirm the yellow and green ribbons on the trophy.
Allure of 100% record
“We would love to finish unbeaten if possible but we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” Damani’s boss Siva Koti stated after last weekend’s 143-run win over Challengers in Entebbe.
“So we would love to secure the title first,” he added.
Knowing the mathematics, Tigers will hope to roar at the right time and stop what seems to be untouchable.
Tigers’ skipper Alphesh Hirani knows there is little they can do to stop Damani’s league success.
Tigers can pounce
Little wonder he could afford a phone chat with Siva after last Sunday’s action.
But Hirani knows the Tigers can put on hold to Damani’s early title celebrations or most importantly, punch a hole into their solid bulging balloon encrypted: ‘the invincible ones’.
The rest of the league sent Challengers to stop Damani last weekend but their batsmen Hamu Kayondo, Arthur Kyobe and Kamal Shahzad didn’t click in partnerships.
Now Damani’s bowling unit has to deal with a Tigers’ batting line-up that has Ronak Patel, who hit an unbeaten 82-ball 105 century in their 185-run win over Premier last Sunday.
Most of Damani’s players form the core of the senior national team - The Cricket Cranes - so they know what to expect and how to plot for another finisher in left-hander Dinesh Nakrani. Ankit Patel’s qualities cannot be overlooked.
Harmless chasing pack
Damani’s captain Ghulam Hunzai knows if they skipped the Tigers’ hurdle, neither a depleted and off-form Tornado Bee, struggling Ceylon Lions and youthful Strikers can hurt their flawless streak.
JAZZ SAFARI NATIONAL LEAGUE
TODAY’S FIXTURES - DIV. ONE -10.30am
Kutchi Tigers vs. Aziz Damani, Lugogo
Premier vs. Tornado Bee, Kyambogo
Ceylon Lions vs. Strikers, Entebbe
Avengers vs. KC Budo, Budo
Nile vs. Wanderers, Jinja
LEAGUE TABLE STANDINGS
Team P W L NR Pts NRR
Aziz Damani 10 10 0 0 60 3.16
Kutchi Tigers 10 7 3 0 42 1.09
Challengers 11 6 5 0 35 0.61
Strikers 9 4 4 1 25 0.25
Tornado Bees 9 4 4 1 25 -0.76
KICC 11 4 7 0 22 -1.15
Ceylon Lions 11 3 8 0 18 -0.26
Premier 11 2 9 0 11 -2.80
*NR denotes No Result
* NRR denotes Net Run Rate
Having endured a torrid outing at the ICC World Cricket League Division IV event in Malaysia, Simon Ssesaazi reminded everyone of his batting potential last weekend.
He was ruthless against fellow Cricket Cranes’ players Riazat Ali and brother Henry Ssenyondo enroute to a 77-run-a-ball half-ton but it was not enough as his club Ceylon Lions lost to holders Aziz Damani by 95 runs in Lugogo. That third loss in four Jazz Safari National League matches could be vividly seen in Ssesaazi’s eyes after producing the best batting show on the day.
“We need to act,” the left-hand opener lamented ahead of today’s match against Kutchi Tigers at the same venue.
“We need to just work on a few improvements, avoid giving away cheap wickets then build partnerships,” he said of his fellow top-order batsmen Eddie Agaba, Arnold Otwan, Varinder Singh, Lawrence Ssempijja and Jonathan Ssebanja.
But Tigers lost their last tie to KICC after an unmatchable display by Davis Karashani (74 off 70 and 3/31 in 8.1 overs) a fortnight ago in Lugogo.
So as Lions bid to roar, Tigers will equally want to be counted in the Lugogo jungle with the backing of Indian trio of Aezaz Kothariya, Devendra Poriya and Sachin Mevada.
Arup Kerai is another weapon for Alphesh Hirani’s team that will looking for a fourth win in six outings.
By DARREN ALLAN KYEYUNE