02 October 2019
Pakistan Association Cricket Club (143/9 in 19.4 overs, Zeeshan Ali 52, Manjinder Singh 32*, Ateeq Iqbal 3/34) beat Kowloon Cricket Club (140 a/o in 19.3 overs, Nizakat Khan 32, Mohammad Ishtiaq 4/32) by 1 wicket
The final game of the CHK Premier League T20 competition lived up to the hype, Pakistan Association Cricket Club emerging victorious with just 1 wicket and two balls to spare! The de-facto final was filled with twists and turns, with both sides finding ways to pull themselves back into the game. It all ultimately came down to Manjinder Singh and the number 11, Mohammad Ishtiaq, needing to score 4 runs against Waqas Barkat. A single first ball from 'Sunny' Singh brought the tailender on strike, exposing him to the wristspinner. He managed to survive the next delivery, before scampering through for a single off the third. Needing two more to win, 'Sunny' swung hard and edged a delivery outside off, but the ball fell agonizingly wide of the fielder at short-third man before running away to the fence for four, sparking uproarious celebrations in the PACC camp.
The dramatic end to this excellent game came a little over 3 and a half hours after Jamie Atkinson called correctly at the toss, and elected to bat first. KCC made two changes to the team that won at HKCC last wee - Mayur Bora and Rory Cox brought in for their first PLT20 games at the expense of Richard Waite and Hersh Khatri - while PACC went in unchanged from the side that beat DLSWCC.
Despite losing the toss, PACC wouldn't have minded bowling first, having won all three of their games thus far while chasing. Young Nasrullah Rana was entrusted with the new ball from the pavilion end, and got his side off to a good start - 5 dot balls and a single to the dangerous Nizakat Khan. However the floodgates were opened in the second over, bowled by Tanwir Afzaal. A front-foot no-ball first ball was flicked away to the fence, with the free-hit next ball being drilled down to long-off. A misfield next ball lead to a third consecutive boundary as Nizakat Khan, and KCC, were up and away. No-balls continued to plague PACC, with Nasrullah over-stepping next over too - Aizaz Khan dispatching the attempted bouncer for six, and putting the free-hit away for a boundary as well. There were another two no-balls from Tanwir in the following over, but he did well to limit the damage off the free hits. Hassan Khan Mohammad replaced Nusrullah for the 5th over, and conceded a boundary and two wides, before Tanwir finished off the power-play, conceding two boundaries - one off which came off the free-hit for yet another no-ball. The second of those boundaries brought up the fourth consecutive 50+ run opening partnership for Aizaz and Nizakat Khan, and after the powerplay KCC were flying at 53/0.
Just when PACC needed a wicket, they managed to find one, with Hassan Khan Mohammad striking right after the powerplay - Nizakat Khan slapping a short and wide ball straight to deep point to be out caught for 32, KCC now 54/1. Jamie Atkinson joined Aizaz in the middle, and spin was introduced into the attack, with Yasim Murtaza brought on to bowl the 8th over. Atkinson picked up a boundary off Hassan in the 9th, but was out LBW trying to work the ball off his legs two balls later, handing the young seamer his second big breakthrough, and firmly shifting the momentum back to PACC. After one more tight over from Yasim, KCC were 68/2 in 10 overs, and PACC had clawed their way back into the game.
Aizaz Khan was still going steady though, and struck a massive six off Nusrullah Rana in the 11th to ease up some of the pressure. Yasim Murtaza continued to wheel away, giving away just 2 runs in the 12th, wrapping up a 3 over spell that cost just 9 runs. With the game in the balance, it was Nusrullah Rana who managed to seize it for PACC. A tidy start to the 13th over lead to Simandeep Singh - batting on 5 off 12 - skying an attempted big hit off a delivery outside off, Ehsan Nawaz taking the catch safely at cover. The very next ball, Aizaz Khan made the same mistake, top-edging a pull shot to the very same fielder. Two wickets in two balls for Nusrullah, and suddenly KCC were in trouble. Offspinner Mohammad Ishtiaq was introduced into the attack in the 14th over, and struck almost immediately, with Aarush Bhagwat stumped off the second ball. KCC had now lost 5 wickets for just 30 runs in the space of 7.2 overs, and were in danger of posting a sub-par score. Rory Cox -former Duham Universities cricketer playing his first CHK PLT20 game- joined Waqas Barkat out in the middle, and with 6 overs to go the hosts were 87/5.
KCC may have been down, but certainly were not out. The 15th over, bowled by 'Sunny' Singh, yielded 9 runs, with Waqas Barkat putting a full-toss confidently away for four. 13 runs came off Ishtiaq in the 16th - southpaw Cox slog-sweeping against the turn for six, then unfurling a cut shot next ball for four. The two batsmen then managed to find the fence three times off Yasim Murtaza in the 17th - Waqas hitting the left arm spinner over cover, then down to fine leg, after which Cox slog-swept safely down to cow corner. Another slog sweep for six by Cox followed in the 18th, followed by a pull for six the very next ball, and suddenly KCC were 136/5 with 14 balls to go. Cox was looking dangerous on 30* off just 13 balls, and Waqas was batting well on 21* off 15. Together, they had scored 53 runs in just 26 balls, and a score in the range of 160-170 was within reach. PACC were in need of another breakthrough.
And, almost as if on cue, they got it - Rory Cox found short of his crease returning for a second run on the final ball of the 18th over, Ehsan Nawaz they fielder yet again. KCC 137/6 with two overs to go. Hassan Khan Mohammad returned to bowl his final over, and struck gold right away - Waqas Barkat pulling out of his shot mid-way to be caught safely at long-off. Two wickets in two ball for PACC, and the tail was now exposed. They could only manage 3 runs from the 19th over, which meant Hassan Khan would finish with the excellent figures of 3/19. Ishtiaq returned to bowl the 20th, and found redemption - Jason Davidson bowled looking for the slog first ball, Mayur Bora caught at deep midwicket on the slog second ball, and Daniel Pascoe picking out the same fielder on the third. A hattrick to end the innings, KCC bowled out for 140 with three balls to spare! Ishtiaq finishing on 4/32, and KCC finishing on a competitive score, but probably just short of what they would have liked batting first.
A tricky chase lay ahead for PACC, and they opted for a change to their opening partnership, with Zeeshan Ali accompanying Ehsan Nawaz for the first time this competition. KCC opted for Jason Davidson with the new ball, as they usually do, and the big Namibian pacer delivered a tidy first over, giving away just 3 runs. But, like in the first innings, the runs began to flow in the second over. Zeeshan Ali deposited Aizaz Khan's first ball down the ground a lovely six, Ehsan Nawaz deposited the third one over wide mid-on for four, and Zeeshan hit the 6th ball -also a no-ball- back down the ground to long-off for another boundary. PACC only managed a single off the free-hit, but managed 18 from the over in total. Jason Davidson bowled another tidy over, but a full-toss off the final ball released the pressure - Ehsan Nawaz hitting it over mid-wicket for six more. PACC quickly off the blocks - at 28/0 after 3, they were just one run behind KCC at the same stage. Atkinson turned to veteran left arm spinner Daniel Pascoe for some control, and he delivered straight away, conceding just 1 run in the first four balls before Ehsan Nawaz top edged a big slog sweep straight into the air, Aizaz Khan at midwicket completing the catch. Babar Hayat strode out at three, and hit Jay Davidson was over midwicket for a boundary to get his innings underway. Zeeshan Ali edged Davidson down to third man for another boundary, before Dan Pascoe wheeled through another tidy over to see off the powerplay - PACC 40/1.
Ateeq Iqbal was introduced into the attack from the Pavillion End, and was greeted with a lovely drive straight back down the ground for six runs by Zeeshan. The wicketkeeper-batsman then broke the shackles a bit more by reverse sweeping Dan Pascoe for a boundary in the next over. At 55/1 after 8 overs, PACC were gaining control of the chase, and KCC were in need of another breakthrough.
Much like Nusrullah did for PACC in the first innings, it was Ateeq Iqbal who swung the momentum KCC's way. Babar Hayat holed out to long-on in the 9th over, where Davidson took a very well judged catch. The dangerous Yasim Murtaza was then sent back for a first-ball duck - an uppish drive finding the safe hands of Waqas Barkat at backward point. Two huge wickets in two balls for Ateeq Iqbal, and suddenly KCC were in charge! Ateeq struck again in the 11th to send back Daniyal Bukhari, caught well by Atkinson at long-on, and PACC were 64/4 and reeling.
Tanwir Afzal joined Zeeshan Ali at the middle, with PACC needing around 8 RPO to win the game. Zeeshan continued to truck on, picking up a six over midwicket just two balls after Bukhari's dismissal, and another six off Waqas Barkat, second ball of the 12th, to bring up his fifty in 36 balls. It was a fine innings under pressure, but unfortunately he could not complete the job - out LBW attempting to sweep the wrist-spinner just 4 balls later. 79/5. Aizaz Khan was re-introduced into the attack, and Tanwir went after him. He picked up a boundary second ball, courtesy of a mis-field in the deep, but found the safe hands of Nizakat Khan the ball after, the fielder making no mistake this time around. PACC 83/6 and in deep trouble. Manjinder Singh, yet to face a ball, was joined by young Nusrullah Rana, with 58 more runs needed in 46 deliveries. A fine over was ruined by yet another no-ball, Manjinder Singh hitting the free-hit for six to release some of the pressure, but KCC were still ahead of the game.
With not much batting to come, 'Sunny' and Nusrullah began to consolidate. The next three overs brought only 12 runs, with Aizaz and Waqas tightening the screws, and the KCC fielders throwing themselves around on the field. After 16 overs PACC were 103/6, needing 38 more to win in the final 24 balls. Ateeq returned to bowl his final over, and 'Sunny' Singh laid into him right away, with a flat six down to long-on first ball. Nusrullah tucked into Ateeq as well, with boundary between midwicket and square leg, as 14 runs came from the over to revive the chase. Dan Pascoe returned to bowl his final over, and Nusrullah found cover fence for another boundary, but perished two balls later - slicing a lofted drive to Atkinson at short third man. 121/7, with another 20 runs still needed in 18 balls. Anas Khan -who hit the match-winning six against DLSW DLIT last weekend- walked out to the middle, and found a single right away. Another single to end the over, and PACC were left needing 18 to win in the final two, with Manjinder Singh on strike. PACC were well and truly back in it.
With the pressure mounting on the hosts, Aizaz Khan was brought back for his final over, and was greeted right away with another six over long-on by Manjinder Singh - his third one over the short straight boundary at the pavilion end. A single into the legside followed, and with 11 needed in 10 balls, Anas Khan swung hard at a length ball outside off, and sliced it high and over the backward point boundary for another six. 5 runs from 9 balls, and suddenly, this game was PACC's to loose.
But Aizaz was not done for the day. A slower, shorter ball was sliced high in the air by Khan, with keeper Bhagwat taking a well judged catch. 5 runs still needed for PACC, and two wickets needed for KCC. Manjinder Singh, managing to cross while the ball was in the air, was hit on the pads next ball, and called through Hassan Khan Mohammad for a leg bye, exposing the young quick to the final ball of the over. With just 4 needed to win, and the single out of the question, the youngster swung hard at the ball but missed - Aizaz's Yorker wrecking finding the base of the stumps.
At 137/9 in 19, all three results were still possible, and as the final over played out, neither side was able to convincingly pull ahead. Ultimately it was a top edge from Manjinder's blade narrowly evading the fielder in the circle that would bring the winning runs for PACC - a fantastic game won by a matter of inches, and a thrilling end of an excellent tournament. Manjinder Singh finishing on 32* off 21 balls - a clutch innings to win the game for his side. Zeeshan Ali awarded the MOTM for his excellent 50 and fine wicket-keeping.
Congratulations to PACC for becoming the 2019-20 CHK PLT20 Champions! We hope you all enjoyed our coverage of this game, and our tournament as a whole. Full match replay can be found on Facebook and YouTube, with scorecards available at the links above
Man of The Match: Zeeshan Ali
- Nitesh Hemlani