• June 26, 2017

By Hardik Patel and Sadiq Yusuf

At Hanover Park’s new laid Astro turf, Chicago United (CU) played Challengers. CU won the toss and chose to bat first to get runs on the board with good deep batting order. CU sent Yaseen and Akhil as their openers. With Yaseen in form, the openers gave a good start to the CUians. Yaseens smashed two sixes in the first powerplay while Akhil was struggling a bit to find a gap. Then later, Akhil smashed a six that built him some confident. Unfortunately, Akhil got out.
Chicago United has a stacked middle-order – Askari, Niraj Patel, Hasan Bemat (coming off 2 centuries in consecutive games), and captain Sami – though they were missing a couple of big pieces (USA keeper-batsman Khaleel and WI U19 keeper-bat Tristan were both not playing). But as they tried to force the pace against good spin bowling in those conditions (with the usual heavy outfield aiding the bowling side), they lost wickets with far too much regularity. Buchya was his usual self, troubling the batsman and giving nothing away just as he has done for so long (8-2-22-2) – but Charlie, bowling off-spin, was a revelation with an outstanding spell that got him 3 wickets (8-1-19-3).Chicago United was bowled out in the last over – they had gone from 73/1 after 20 overs to 133 all out!
Challengers openers had a good start while the impressive CU fielding picked up 1st wicket through a run out. In the middle overs, CUians bowled very well, with Kashan swinging both way, that made the Challengers guessing and adding pressure. Chicago United is a team that fights at all times, however – they came back hard at the Challengers after break, and all hell broke loose. The bowling attack of Askari, Yaseen, Niraj, Donikie and Sami bowled very well to restrict runs while picking up wickets until the last wicket when the match became much more exciting.
There was a twist – Chicago United turned to Yaseen (“poori game mein bowling nahin kara, ab end mein karna pad raha hai – yeh na-insafi hai Sadiq-bhai” he joked to me ? ) . He came in bowling slow flighted left-arm spin. He tossed it up, beat Ravi in flight dragging him forward – and Hasan (part time keeper) whipped off the bails, Daxx promptly giving the stumping (hats off, BTW – it was impossible to tell it was out from the bowling end).
With 6 runs to get Buchya came in as last man…and in the persevering Donieke’s next over (with 3 runs to win) hit it straight to the man at short-cover – and it spilled out! That could have been it right there – what would have been a fantastic win for a short-handed Chicago United after an brilliant fightback..but it went down, and the Challengers were still alive.
With two runs to win in the last over, Buchya facing – and he promptly went after the first ball from Yaseen, hitting it high and hard to the vacant long-off. Askari from long-on ran to catch it, the strong wind kept carrying it further and further away from him. They ran hard, coming back for the second…Askari only reached it on the bounce, picked up and threw it back in and scored a direct hit on the bowlers end stumps from long-on! But Sukesh, running hard from the start, had already just gotten in past the crease!
A brilliant, heart-stopping 1-wicket win for the Challengers over Chicago United…and one of the most enjoyable and Epic thriller !