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May 6, 2001
Yesterday the match, though swept by the rain, forecasted a close finish and the spectators were dismayed to see their expectation washed away. Today they aspired to watch a game that could quench their thirst to be enthralled by a match between the arch-rivals. Indeed, the match that was held in BNS, contained every ingredient to enchant the crowd from both sides, as, it had been a very close finish that lastly favored Mohammedan to clench the Premier League title.
It was a rather sunny morning when the competitors walked into the field and the vital toss was won by Minhajul Abedin who decided to bat first thinking of his long stalwart batting line-up. Abahani camp had reasons to be exulted when they saw three quick wickets of their opponents fell having 41 on their total-just like yesterday. Steve Tikolo, the veteran Kenyan and the match winner batsman of Mohammedan did not frustrate his supporters once again and for the last time in this tournament when his bully knock was required most. Alike yesterday, Iqbal dispatched Rashedul and Harun at quick succession. Sanwar Hossain (17), who used to get runs this season without much effort became the prey to Pakistani Shoaib Malik's clever slower at Mukul's hands. The skipper Minhajul Abedin (9) got a vicious nick to wicketkeeper Md. Salim when his assistance was desired most. At that stage Mohammedan was getting four runs per over but lost five specialist batsmen for 100 which cast a deep gloom over their crowd fearing the club's possibility to reach a fighting score might have been demolished. But the next partnership of 71 between two Kenyans flashed the light of hope again. Maurice Odumbe's bells were taken away as he was three feet short to his crease while they were contriving a hurried single. The next episode would only talk about Steve Tikolo who was slashing the ball all over the field receiving meager props from his tail-enders who decided to give as much strike as possible to the Kenyan. Tikolo (150) when at 96 was dropped once at extra cover, and after that he turned out to be more dangerous than ever, hitting three sixes and a good number of boundaries in a brief period. After 50 overs Mohammedan piled up 270 losing all.
Ashiqur Rahman got Azam Iqbal caught at the faithful Tikolo hands at 4. but Md. Hussain took an upper hand over the bowlers with his natural flow of gigantic strokes to keep the board run in parallel. But his risky efforts foretold a quick departure which happened to be true when Taposh did not floor his catch of Sanwar at 47 off just 37 balls. Nafiz, at the other end, was playing brilliantly measuring the demand of the circumstances. He (47) hit a spectacular six before getting an unwanted edge of Mustadir to Mortaza. The sequence of two falls despoiled the hopes even to give a fight that made many crowd leave the stadium. When Mustadir and Sanwar were breathing poison in the track and when Abahani was laboring with185 for 7, Niamur Rashid was thinking something different. A partnership of 76 from which the runs came at ravishing speed, caused a relaxed Minhajul to frown and fret over his fielding that was in havoc. There were still 7 balls left when Niamur tried to play down the wicket of a decoy of Mustadir, obviously found it out of reach and his bells taken off by Mortaza at the same time. Ahsanullah Hasan was undertaking cheeky singles dishing out all the attempts he had in him and the last over required 10 runs for Abahani to become the champions once again. Minhaj relied upon Sanwar to sustain the hope that was running out of their hand. He had not made his captain and the supporters despondent as the first ball got him the most desired wicket of Ahsanullah (31) with a similar kind of assistance from Mortazastumped him two feet away the crease. Ali Arman and Iqbal had little repute handle such pressure and they endeavored to sum up seven from the remaining deliveries. Mohammedan won the nail-biting affair by three runs to have their longing come true.
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