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[Photos courtesy: Shashi Khurana]
After two successive failed attempts to get past semis, Gymkhana CC
not only made it to its first ever CLNJ final, it bagged the
championship. For the experienced and seasoned Freedom CC, who racked
up a second final in three years, the wait continues as they made a
valiant attempt but failed to beat the new look Gymkhana playing under
the stewardship of a new captain, Asghar Kazim, who led from the front
throughout the season.
In the final played on Sunday, September 25th in Edison, Asghar Kazim
won the toss and elected to bat on a rain affected damp outfield which
saw a ball that was simply disinclined to travel.
conditions that clearly favored the bowlers, Freedom CC sought early
advantage. After Amin Jasani had Ahsan Siddiqui caught for just 4 runs,
Prashant Patel followed through with two more and soon, Gymkhana was
reeling. But Gymkhana captain Asghar Kazim, once again, set an example
for his team by putting on a 33 run partnership with Aditya Mishra.
After Asghar (17) was caught brilliantly at extra cover by Chintan Patel
off Jignesh Bhatt, Gymkhana lost another 4 wickets in quick
succession. It was largely due to the effort of Team USA cricketer
Aditya Mishra's patient compilation of 50, which helped Gymkhana manage a
total of 128 all out in just 36.4 overs.
This was Freedom's best chance to take home the CLNJ's coveted
Division 1 title. The campaign that started off on a steady footing
with Prashant hitting a six in the third over and Jai Shah too was
beginning to look settled. However, Gymkhana captain removed Prashant
and Jignesh off successive deliveries injecting life into the match.
Left arm spinner Nisar Ahmed left arm spinner picked up three wickets
including the wicket of Amin Jasani (22) who threatened to unravel
Gymkhana's resurgent ambitions. Ubaid Razi took two wickets including a
spontaneous caught and bowled effort. Freedom tied itself up in knots
unable to steady course and build a good partnership. In the end, they
were all out for 91 runs.
In the end, what was a low-scoring affair turned out to be a tight
match amidst ground conditions that were not particularly conducive to
big-hitting. Not surprisingly, the pendulum kept shifting until the
last ball. In the award ceremony that followed, Aditya was awarded
Player of the game for his 50.
Speaking on the occasion, Gymkhana CC Captain Asghar Kazim
said: "This is a very special win for our club and playing in the finals
against one of the best teams in the league and super sportsmen of
Freedom was very exciting. I want to congratulate Amin Jasani, Raj
Jasani and the entire Freedom CC for a fantastic season and I know they
will be in the hunt for the championship again next year."
Asghar thanked his team mates and said: "This was a very emotional
year for us. The changes we made after losing half of our team
strength before the season started, these were only possible because we
believed that Gymkhana team was bigger than any player." He said that
the championship was a testament to the fact that teams win when they
play as a unit and that no superstars were required.
Click here for detailed scorecard.