Dubai, The Jaffery Cricket Club recorded a tight victory against the Jawadri Cricket Club on a sweltering Friday morning at The Sevens cricket ground.
After winning the toss and electing to bat on a track that had a tinge of green on it, Jaffery skipper Ali Mombasa opened the innings with Zuhair Hemraj.
Hemraj (10) got things underway with a cut for four to point as he and Mombasa ran hard between the wickets to get Jaffery off to a steady start.
But Hemraj soon left the scene when he was bowled in the sixth over by leg-spinner Harris trying to drive. Muhammad Mazher (54) walked in at one down and kept the scoreboard ticking with risk-free strokeplay. It was the start of a perfectly paced innings from Mazher.
Mombasa (12) joined Zuhair in the hut not long after, top-edging a pull to keeper Zeeshan.
Johar met Mazher in the middle and got off the mark first ball with a stylish cut to the cover fence. Him and Mazher steadily upped the run-rate as Jaffery brought up their hundred in the fourteenth over.
With the platform set for a big total, the innings took a hiccup when Johar (27) edged behind the wicket. Qamar (15) hit a couple of boundaries before having his leg-stump disturbed by a googly, while MAK (13) spooned an easy catch to cover.
But Mazher was unperturbed by the wickets falling at the other end and carried on with aplomb. With Mohamed Suleman (18*) for company, Mazher fought an unforgiving Dubai sun and dehydration to bring up his fifty with a majestic strike down the ground for six.
“I think Muhammad Mazhar batted very well,” said Jaffery captain Ali Mombasa. “He battled through the heat and pushed us to a good total.”
Although Mazher was stumped for 54 soon after, a cameo at the end from Suleman took the Jaffery boys to 180 at the end of their 25 overs.
With the mercury kissing 40 degrees Celsius, the Jaffery boys took the field, knowing they had a fair amount of runs on the board to defend.
But the Jawadri opening batsmen didn’t seem to see the logic of running between the wickets in this heat. Left-handed wicketkeeper-batsman Zeeshan (39) slapped the first ball of the innings from Syed Haidar Shah to midwicket for four. The first over ended with 15 runs already on the board.
His right-handed opening partner Abrar (61) was in a hurry as well, punishing some ordinary bowling. The Jaffery boys seemed to be melting under the heat as they dropped Zeeshan twice, and Abrar once.
The old saying of ‘catches win matches’ must have been ringing in their heads as Zeeshan and Abrar made use of their lives and pulverised the bowling to all parts.
At the end of 11 overs, Jawadri had raced to 110 for no loss and seemed on track for an easy victory.
But that was before the Jaffery spinners entered the fray.
“Ammar and Muhammad Mazhar brought us back into the game when the chips were down,” said captain Ali Mombasa.
Ammar Suleman was introduced in the twelfth over and had Zeeshan plumb in front off his first ball. He was certain he had the next man in leg before as well, but the umpire thought otherwise.
Meanwhile, Muhammad Mazher kept things tight at the other end. He varied his pace beautifully and choked the flow of runs to a mere trickle.
Ammar then had Abrar caught at mid-wicket and suddenly, the Jaffery boys were back in the game. Mazher picked up a wicket off his last over, getting the hard-hitting Naeem (14) caught at deep square-leg by Johar.
Ammar finished off his spell by dismissing Mobeen (7), caught at cover. The off-spinner ending with three wickets in his five overs.
Ali Mombasa chipped in with a couple of key wickets as well with his part time off-spin. He shed his keeping pads and gloves to come on and bowl and delivered with a pair of crucial scalps.
MAK came on to bowl with a handful of overs remaining in the innings and kept up the preassure created by the spinners.
With Jawadri needing 19 runs off two overs, he had Syeed (22) caught at long-on by Mohamed Suleman and bowled Abid (5) with a skidder.
A dozen runs to get off the final over with just the lone wicket in hand was never going to be easy, and MAK ensured there would be no more twists in this game with a disciplined final over.
Jawadri finishing on 172 at the end of their innings - 9 runs short of their target.
Jaffery skipper Ali Mombasa was delighted with the win, and praised his team for a solid performance. “The boys followed instructions and played as per plan,” he said. “I am very proud to be leading such a young, enthusiastic, and dedicated bunch of boys.”
With the final session of the season coming up this Friday, things are looking bright for the Jaffery Cricket Club and the only way from here is surely up.