KCC Tartars captain Afzaal Haider won the toss and elected to bat first since it had been the team tradition throughout the season. It was again a beautiful batting wicket but heavy rain during the week had made it a bit lively for the better bowlers. Tartars lost both their openers, Afzaal Haider & Anoop Nainani, in the early overs. Usman Manj played with his usual aggressive style and scored a quick 50 by the 13th over but threw his wicket away straight after that. The Great Rahul Sharma took charge from there and made sure the team played their allotted 35 overs; he was there at the end, not-out, having scored 41 very valuable runs. He showed the class, confidence and technique of a good batsman in front of all our junior Tartars’ players. Kinchit Shah scored 19 & Muhammad Khan 16 runs at the end, and the team had 166 runs on the board for the loss of 9 wickets.
In reply, Nomads lost their opener Trevor Smithson for a duck but then played very smartly and conscientiously with singles and odd boundaries off bad over-pitched balls. Afzaal Haider kept on changing his bowlers and field positions to get some wickets and spinners Daood Ashfaq and Devang Shah started giving the opposition a tough time; they were soon rewarded as they grabbed a few wickets. Tartars were fielding very aggressively, creating some run-out chances, but it still looked like Nomads would take the game away from us.
Afzaal came back for his 3rd spell when the match looked like an almost one-sided affair by that time as Nomads needed just 10 runs in 3 overs with 6 wickets in hand, with both set-batsman at the crease. Every single person in the ground was 200% sure of a Nomads victory when the Tartars captain called a quick team meeting and asked everyone to try to take the game to the 35th over and then see what would happen. Technically, we had no chance but still wanted to try. Suhaib Ahmed bowled a brilliant over by giving away only 2 runs in the 34th over and left 2 runs for his skipper in the 35th over.
Nomads needed 3 runs to win off the last 6 balls with 6 wickets in hand when Afzaal Haider set a very attacking field and started bowling from the Hill Side which had been his favourite since he had arrived in HK. He got a wicket with the first ball of the over as Nomads’ most experienced and set-batsman was caught trying to hit a boundary and finish the match on the first ball. His other set-partner had crossed him in the process and faced the next delivery and managed an easy single to mid-off. 4 balls, 2 to win, 1 run to tie, a new batsman at the crease and the HKCC camp had gone completely silent. This was the first time in the innings when I had the feeling that we could win and I used all my experience by balling 4 dot balls; all were quick, firm & spot-on edging outside the off-stump and the batsman. JO Orders had no clue what to do and Tartars went through to the Final, beating Nomads in back-to-back matches. Yee Haa!!!!!
The moment was thrilling, enjoyable, unforgettable and very memorable for us and tough for Nomads. Exactly after 15 minutes the whole HKCC management came down to the ground, including their General Manger Nigel Stearns, Recreation Manager Mark Eames, Coach Mark Wright, Nomads Captain Andrew Swan and many others and congratulated us warmly and showed that they are the best opposition when it comes to competition, the best when it comes to celebrating their success and the best when it comes to congratulating the opposition after a loss.
It was one of the best results ever for all 12 Tartars’ players and one of the best Saturday League match in terms of playing the match within the spirit of the game and competitiveness without any sledging. I was so proud of my team and congratulations to all of them for their hard work throughout the season; they deserved to be the winners here. People will learn so much from this match and I am sure my team will always fight until the end from now on.