Following the huge progress that we’d we made and fantastic form that propelled us to the knockout stages, so the semi-final greeted us!
We won the toss and had no hesitation in choosing to bat first at home to Khulna. Regrettably, Jamal Peters (5), Phillipio (8) and Moses Okocha (7) were all soon back in the hut. That left us reeling on 37-3. For the second match in a row, vice-captain Mario Kuntz (33) fell when well set. Kim Lee-Soo made a run-a-ball 12 but captain Norshahrul Rashid used up six balls for just 2.
Wu Xu foolishly fell first ball but wicketkeeper Javier Jiminez stroked 40 from 36 deliveries to at least help put a score on the board. Mohamed El Mohamedy (9*) and Ambroise Anguissa (2*) took us to 128-8 with the welcome help of 12 extras.
Slow-left-armer El The Pharaoh Mohamedy (1-26) then struck in the first over but Khulna were soon on course for victory at 44-1. Xu’s (2-18) off-spin claimed two wickets in two balls outside of the powerplay (8th over) to drag the visitors back to 44-3 and put us in the box seat.
Kim’s (1-20) slingy right-arm bowling accounted for Shafiq (22) but captain Rashid, who uncharacteristically conceded 31 from his four overs to go with his miserable batting effort, later dropped a catch of the South Korean. In between, Hammond (15) was run out but a couple of silly overthrows and fatigued fielding would prove costly!
Left-arm pacer Roberto Biabini (0-10) conceded just one run from an almost immaculate penultimate over. Tall right-arm fast bowler Ambroise Anguissa had 15 runs to play with to put us in the final but began the 20th over with a wide. Tiredness and possibly pressure set in but the Cameroonian wasn’t helped by the efforts (Or lack of) by some of his fielders. Despite that, top scorer Ingram (46) was run out off the penultimate ball of the final over when going for the win. Anguissa (0-22) regained his nerve to finish with a dot and send the game into a super over… the crowd couldn’t believe what was happening before their eyes and many couldn’t bare to watch!
Egypt’s El Mohamedy ,well versed at bowling under pressure in the powerplay, rocked up to the wicket. Despite conceding a boundary early in the over, he responded superbly to limit Khulna to just 7-1.
There was little time to think about who should open the batting. Our minds were occupied with how we’d only scratched our way to a semi-competitive total after performing so well recently, before letting the win and a place in the final, slip away. It was felt that sending out a right and left-hander made sense and so it seemed appropriate to allow regular openers Jamal Peters and Mario Kuntz to take responsibility… they failed spectacularly!
Against right-arm medium pacer Asad Hashim, Peters made 2 from 3, meanwhile Kuntz wafted away horribly outside off stump, failing to connect with any of the three deliveries that he faced, only running a bye. All this came after Hashim had offered up a wide first ball… it was a heartbreaking end!
The fact of the matter is that we didn’t deserve to win. Congratulations to Khulna who did. Our top order were tense and went chasing runs, not sticking to our recent successful (Albeit old-fashioned) gameplan. Old bad habits resurfaced as we failed to make the most of the last few overs and barely scratched out a competitive total.
We then had the game in the bag, we were in a good position well into their innings but skipper Rashid was uncharacteristically expensive and Anguissa fell apart. There were three unnecessary overthrows, two atrocious pieces of fielding late on, one that cost a boundary, the other an extra run in the final over… not to mention the captain’s dropped catch or our batsmen’s failure to execute in the super over! Hard to stomach would be an understatement. We may now have to break a tag of chokers!
Our captain has led us superbly upto this point and shouldn’t be judged on one night… but like too many of our players, he failed to bring his A game to the big occasion. We will learn as a group and be stronger for it. There are many bad things happening in this world and at the end of the day, this is just sport. It will take some coming back from however!
Oh… typically Khulna got rolled over for just 90 in the final as Rajashahi ran out 9-wicket winners. Saleem Rad claimed ridiculous figures of 4-0! He claimed a hat-trick to finish off Khulna who had actually recovered from 50-6 to 90-6 before, well, you know! Sheikh Hudson then struck 61 not out from only 29 balls as the team that topped the table deservedly won the competition.
Disclaimer: Celebratory image at the top of this article is probably a bit misleading!
Please see below for our statistical highlights from the competition.
Highest Team Total: 161-7 vs. Barisal at Comilla Cricket Ground
Highest Partnership: 121 (1st wicket) Jamal Peters (USA) and Mario Kuntz (Germany) vs. Khulna at Khulna Park
Leading Run-scorer: Mario Kuntz (Germany) 399
Best Batting Average: Moses Okocha (Nigeria) 37.60 (Shoya Soma (Japan) averaged 89.00 from only four innings that included three not outs)
Best Batting Strike-rate: Moses Okocha (Nigeria) 128.33
Best Batting Innings: Moses Okocha (Nigeria) 69 not out vs. Chittagong/Mario Kuntz (Germany) 69 not out vs. Dhaka at Dragons Oval
Leading Wicket-taker: Mohammed El Mohamedy (Egypt) 14
Best Bowling Average: Roberto Biabini (Italy) 20.33 (Three players averaged less but claimed a maximum of only three wickets)
Best Bowling Strike-rate: Roberto Biabini (Italy) 18.44 (Again, players that claimed less than a handful of wickets were not considered)
Best Bowling Innings: Roberto Biabini (Italy) 4-21 vs. Barisal at Global Arena
Most Dismissals: Javier Jiminez (Mexico) 15 catches/0 stumpings
Most Catches (Non-wicketkeeper): Wu Xu (China) 6