Monday, November 5, 2007

Living a Dream...

I'm playing cricket in Abu Dhabi for a team called ACE, which is currently taking part in a 25-overs a side Division B cricket tournament. The team is made up of young cricket enthusiasts from Pakistan, who have spent the best parts of their lives growing up in the UAE. While we won our first match very convincingly, it was our 2nd match this past Friday that convinced me to mention the team in this blog.

Fielding first, we had bowled the opposition out for 148, setting ourself an easy target. The chase began in emphatic fashion with the openers putting on a brisk 28 runs in the first 4 overs, before the spinners came on. The next 8 overs saw the entire top and middle order collapse. At drinks, we were 55-6 of 12 overs. The match was all but lost, and the whole of ACE was sitting with their heads in their hands.

Play resumed after drinks and the two batsmen at the crease slowly started building the innings, playing with caution and picking up singles and doubles against the spin dominated attack. I started paying attention to the match again after the 17th over, when 76 runs were required of 8 overs. 10 an over on a cement pitch is manageable even with ones and twos. The batsmen were doing exactly that, and I started thinking of a turnaround. Just when I got up from the background and sat next to the boundary line, we lost another wicket - with 7 overs left, 69 runs were required with only 3 wickets in hand.

The next couple of overs saw some mighty blows - a couple of 4s and a huge 6, but a wicket fell on the 20th over, leaving 56 to win of 5 overs with the final 2 wickets left.

The number 10 batsman, Bilal Sulaiman walked in, as the captain from the boundary said "we can do it with 1s and 2s". Bilal replied "56 of 5, let me play". Bilal and Ali Abbas, who had been at the crease since the fall of the 6th wicket, continued the innings. They got a single or a double of every ball, a couple of boundaries, a six each, and the required score dropped to 44 of 4 overs, 36 of 3, 28 of 2, and 16 of the final 6 balls of the match.

The final over of the innings started, ACE gathered around the boundary line hoping for a miracle, the first ball was delivered, Bilal drove to long on, ran the first one hard, Ali turned for the second, Bilal refused, and in attempt to return back to his crease, Ali was Run Out. The last man, Omer Rizvi walked out amid silence – 5 balls remaining, 15 to get, and only 1 wicket left. Omer was beaten of the 2nd delivery, but managed a single of the 3rd getting Bilal back on strike. 14 of 3. "3 fours" screamed a guy. "2 sixes and a four" screamed another.

What went down over the final 3 deliveries of the match is what dreams are made of. Every young Pakistani boy dreams of doing a "Miandad", even if it is in a tape-ball game in his back yard and Bilal Sulaiman lived that dream on Friday. The 4th delivery was thundered for a 6 right over the bowler's head, the 5th was sent soaring for 6 over midwicket, and the final delivery driven over extra cover for the winning 2 runs.

We had won by 1 wicket of the final delivery of the match. The scenes after that were unbelievable.

During our practices we talk about having the 'Australian Attitude' - our first victory was very much Australian, but this last Friday, it was a very Pakistani win!

This was by far the most tense and exciting cricket match I have ever been involved in over the last 15 years! And the experience was worth sharing with all of you. Here's the brief scorecard.

Make your pitch on this post...



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14 Pitched:

  1. obaid said...
     

    Wow! Great stuff :) I totally know what you mean. These ar ethe moments that a sportsman lives for - it doesnt matter whether its the world cup final, a school game or gali cricket. Any person who has the opportunity to be a hero and win a game for the team is very lucky

    Cherish the moment and congrats! Take pics next time :)

  2. Q said...
     

    I did take pics. I was trying to put them up with the post but as u know our godaddy has been a bit slow so i just published with the pics...i'll put them up soon...

  3. Azfar said...
     

    Umair...very well written. It was truly an amazing game. Bilal, Ali and Asad played key roles in ensuring that we win our second game. The last game should give us a lot of confidence going into the Mehairi-Bin Jamal game this coming friday.

    Azfar

  4. Atif said...
     

    Hahaha
    awesome stuff buddy :)
    the article gives has real feel about it, i actually felt as if i was re-living the moment.
    Obaid's right, it doesnt really matter what form or level of the game your'e playing at, its the opportunity to be a hero and what i'd like to add is, bilal has been tried at every position from an opener to the last batsman but he couldnt perform, perhaps he was waiting for the opportune moment :)

    Great stuff guys, may we be able to continue in the same manner.

    Go ACE !!!

  5. Q said...
     

    Atif buddy, i've been reliving the moment everday :-)...i think the match will stay with us for a long long time...

    I do believe that this game will give us the confidence we need for the matches to come.

    For all u out there, Atif is the captain of ACE.

    Its one of out first major tournaments, where we have won 2 out 2 and hope to keep rolling on.

  6. Fawad said...
     

    Excellent work Umair!!! very well written... but hang on!!! their are better experiences coming up!!! do keep yr pen rolling for next match...

  7. O2 said...
     

    What a humdinger! Thats what competitive sports is all about - moments like these when skill and sometimes sheer will pulls you through.

    Great stuff.

  8. Farees said...
     

    Very well written qazi. Im just wondering how you fared in the match?

  9. Q said...
     

    Farees - I scored only 3 before being stumped...didn't dance down the track, just moved forward to play a drive and was beaten by the doosra and the keeper did his work in a flash.

  10. Obaid said...
     

    q, what kind of pitch and ground was it?

  11. Anonymous said...
     

    guess its all about handling the pressure..........
    keep up folks!

  12. networking_junkie said...
     

    Very well written Umair. I was scoring for this match and it was was a very tense match. We held our nerves and that really did the thing for us in the end.

    Go ACE!!

  13. Q said...
     

    Obaid - It was a cement pitch and sandy outfield :-)...

    The spinner we were up against, Sanjeeva Das, is a sri lankan first class cricketer, in his late 20s, with a murali type action. He was spinning it both ways on cement!

    He won the awar for best spinner in UAE last year. Last season his best figures were 6-5-1-7!! He took 4-20 against us.

    He was once asked to play for UAE but he declined saying the level is too low.

    Today he makes about $400 per match playing for NDC in Abu Dhabi.

  14. Anonymous said...
     

    oye hoye bilal!!
    good job, yehi expect karta tha tum se!
    fahim!

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