As soon as Japan Cup T20 was announced, it was dubbed by many in north Kanto as “The Match of the Season”. In 2019, 2020 Pakistan Stars had a big team and it was becoming difficult for them to give chance to every player. There are only 3-4 Japan Cup T20 games and when team strength is over 25 then let’s say tiny clashes are bound to happen. Fast forward to 2021, young members created their own team named SHAHEEN (HAWKS).
The game was scheduled on 11th April at 11 am on Sano 3 cricket ground but considering the excitement around this build-up, both players were on the ground by 9 am. A rare sight indeed. Considering that lot of balls might get lost at the river end, both captains and umpired decided to start at 10:30 am. Shaheen Captain Muhammad Jawad won the toss and elected to bowl first.
Pakistan Stars setting the target
Pakistan Stars opened the batting with Ahmad Munir and Khawaja Salman. Salman’s presence for 30 min on the wicket changes momentum completely. He usually destroys opposition bowling figures and more importantly morale. It was not the case in this game. He was picked by Haider Shah for a mere 15 runs and SHAHEEN already had a good start to this competition. At no 3, Gagan Suri joined in the middle and made his intent clear with clean hitting. Shaheen’s bowling attack was taken to the cleaners by Gagan. With that run rate, 200 looked very much on the cards.
This was all until Saddam was introduced back take some wickets and he did. In his 2nd overs, he produced the edge of Rana Rashid and then produced an unplayable for Talha Anwar to get 2 in 2. He was on a Hattrick when Amir Syed joined in the middle. Amir Syed with his classic white helmet was back on the field for this game. A big name in the 1990s and 2000 and mainstay of invincible Tokyo Giants Cricket Club. He was there “just to play the game”.
Amir Syed looked out of touch and it showed a few hits coupled with few boundaries his stay was cut short by Saddam who produced a ball that moved off-seam after pitching to cartwheel the off-stump. He picked one more wicket to finish the spell with figures of 4/25. At the other end, Gagan Suri was batting fluently and brought his 50 in style. A terrible mixup saw him run out on 62 runs (42) 3x4s, 5x6s.
Saddam’s figure could have easily been 6 for or 7 for had fielders hang onto 3 straightforward catches. Pakistan stars were all out for 161 runs with 4 balls to spare. 4 balls could make a big difference in such tight games.
SHAHEEN Chase 162 to win
Pakistan Stars opted to start with the medium pace of Faiz Ullah Khan and Saad Quraishi. It was strange to see Munir Ahmed, one of the best leg spinners in the domestic circuit keeping wickets. SHAHEEN opened the batting with Tajamal and Ali. The top 3 Batters made their intention clear when Saad and M. Yonus combined conceded 40 runs in 5 overs. The economic and sensible bowling of Faiz Ullah Khan kept Pakistan stars in the game.
At no 4, Waseem Javed came in to bat when the asking Run-rate was creeping above 9 runs / over. 95 odd runs in 10 overs. As soon spinners were introduced, Waseem latched on to the opportunity to unleash his bat swings. One over of Rashid Rana produced 22+ runs and wheels started to fall off. If 30-yard fielders could hold on to 3 catches, the story could have been completely different. Bowlers good lines outside off stump but Waseem single-handedly took them apart with a brilliant 67 of just 32 balls ( 5x4s, 6x6s). 56 runs of them were boundaries. 1run to get of last over, he celebrated win a boundary over the square in his unique style
This mach certainly lived up to the expectation of everyone and barring fielding, both teams displayed great T20 skills. Certainly, a new rivalry has begun and it will be interesting to see if we could see another face off between these two teams in Finals
PAKISTAN STARS vs SHAHEEN : Match scorecard