New Medical Centre lift UAE Panasonic Gold Cup
A superlative spell of deadly seam and swing bowling by Imtiaz Rasool dashed the title hopes of favourites, Malik News Agency, as New Medical Centre comprehensively defeated them by 66 runs to lift the coveted Panasonic Gold Cup for the 25th Bukhatir League, A Division. This, the premier event in the United Arab Emirates season, was sponsored by Oman National Electronics and organised by Sharjah Cricket Council.
Chasing a highly competitive victory target of 206, Malik News Agency had high hopes of adding another feather to their already decorated cap, but Imtiaz Rasool quickly brought them down to earth. In one of the best exhibition of fine swing bowling for a long time, he cut through the much vaunted top order of MNA like the proverbial hot knife through the butter, reducing MNA to an incredible 33-6 by the 10th over.
The very first ball of the innings itself unfolded high drama when he produced a superb big in-swinger which beat inform Saleem Raza neck and crop. Spurred by the big success, he continued to trouble all the batsmen and ultimately got rid of dangerous Irfan Dar, whom he bowled with another beauty, and Ishfaq Raza. He added two more victims in a pulsating display as he finished with a rare five-wicket haul with impressive figures of 10-1-23-5.
In between Rajesh Panchal bagged the big wicket of Man of the Tournament, Hassan Mehmood, to land MNA in serious trouble. Reeling at 33-6, skipper Zulfiqar Butt joined forces with seasoned Mohd. Ishaq (33) and took the score to 58 before the former fell to Masood Anwar. Indomitable Fayyaz Haider then took up the fight with a valiant 45 off 54 balls with three fours and a six to add an invaluable 48 runs for the eighth wicket before Mohd. Ishaq unnecessarily ran himself out going for a non-existent third run. His dismissal proved the last nail in the coffin as MNA were finally dismissed for 139 in 36.1 overs to concede defeat by 66 runs.
Earlier New Medical Center did well to post a challenging total of 205-9 in the allotted 50 overs. Their innings was built around a fine innings from skipper Satish Shinde who struck a well-compiled 75 from 104 balls with six fours. Sandeep Dhuri was the other batsman to shine with an impressive 59 off 78 balls with four fours. The rest of the batting, though, was pedestrian as NMC frittered away the advantage of a good start as they slumped from 145-3 to 205-9 at the end. Mohd. Bilal (34-3) undermined their effort with effective right arm orthodox leg spin. He was ably supported by wily left arm orthodox Zulfiqar Butt (31-3) and veteran Saleem Raza (46-2).
Prizes were given away by Abdul Rahman Bukhatir, President Emirates Cricket Board, Z.U. Sabri, Group Director (Electronics), Al Futtaim Trading and G.Nishi of Matsushita Electric Japan, along with Nasir Akram, Secretary General, ECB and Abdul Razak Kazim of ECB and DCC. Also present was Sam Turell of Oman National Electronics. A total of Dhs.25, 000/- was distributed amongst the teams as prize money in cash apart from the cups.
The individual award winners were:
Best batsman - Saleem Raza (Malik News Agency) (291 runs in six innings at an average of 48.5; Highest score - 116)
Best bowler - Imtiaz Rasool (New Medical Centre) (14 wickets for 119 runs at an average of 8.5)
Man of the tournament - Hassan Mahmood (Malik News Agency) (247 runs in five innings at an average of 49.4 & 10 wickets for 143 runs at an average of 14.3)
Man of the final - Imtiaz Rasool (New Medical Centre)