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T&T And Pakistan 50-Overs Final – Expect A Thriller

By John L. Aaron
Today’s Trinidad & Tobago and Pakistan 50-Overs clash at Idlewild Park in Rosedale, Queens, is expected to be quite a thriller.

The Ed Ahmad New York Caribbean Cricket Cup 50-Overs championship final pits two teams with somewhat diverse talent rosters against each other, for the second time in a month, albeit now in the longer version of the game.

A few weeks ago the two teams clashed at the same venue and before a crowd estimated in the hundreds in a Twenty/20 face-off. However, the game ended abruptly, following an explosion of runs in the shorter format game. In that match Pakistan behind some blistering bats gave the T&T squad some food for thought, before the abrupt and controversial end to the match. The match was subsequently replayed and Pakistan came out victorious. That victory may be fresh in the minds of the Pakistan squad, igniting them for the head-to-head clash at Idlewild park, today. However, Pakistan cannot feel too elated, because the calypso boys have previously beaten them in their earlier 50-Overs encounter in the tournament.

When the two teams met earlier in the competition, Trinidad & Tobago behind a century from Daryl Roopchand and 80 from Denis Rampersad, gave Pakistan 248 to make in 50 overs. Pakistan fell short by approximately 60 runs. The question is does Pakistan have what it takes for the longer version of the game, or will Trinidad & Tobago be intimidated by the explosiveness of the Pakistani willows.

NY Cricket Soca Warriors Ready
According to Trinidad & Tobago’s skipper Glen Lorick, “Trinidad & Tobago will bowl line and length to the Pakistani batsmen.” When pressed to elaborate, he added, “We will bring our slower bowlers and bring the ball up to their batsmen.” The exuberant player predicted a Trinidad & Tobago victory in the match, although he cautioned that his players would have to hold on to catches that came their way, noting that Trinidad & Tobago had dropped Pakistan’s top four batsmen when they met earlier in the season. In response to which players he will be most dependent upon in the clash, the T& T skipper said “I am depending on the players who have brought us this far. They are Daryl Roopchand, Denis Rampersad, Denzil James and the veteran Dave Mohammed.” He was quick however, to credit Pakistan, adding “They are playing good cricket.” – a testimony to the Pakistani team featuring in both finals of this year’s tournament – today’s 50-Overs final and the upcoming Twenty/20 final against Guyana.

The Trinidad & Tobago line up lacks some genuine pace, but has a complement of spin bowlers which should support the depth of the team’s bats. Therefore, it was not surprising to learn that the team’s skipper Glen Lorick is hoping to bowl out Pakistan below market value, then use his batting line up to dominate any target set by Pakistan.

It is indeed an interesting scenario, because I believe the balance of power shifts significantly, depending upon which team bats first. If Trinidad & Tobago is to win this championship, they would have to bat first and amass a score north of 275, then hope to mesmerize the Pakistani batsmen with their slower bowling. However, if during the Pakistani innings, T&T fields poorly as they have done on occasions in the past, while allowing the early Pakistani batsmen to get on top of the hitting, the balance of power shifts significantly to the Pakistani team.

Lorick claims that this is his last year playing cricket at this competitive level in New York. He pointed out that he has been playing league and first-class cricket for the past 24 years in the New York metropolitan area and would like to give the younger T&T players a chance to represent their homeland.

Pakistan Youthful of Confidence
Pakistan led by the hard-hitting opener Nadeem Younas is expected to electrify the popular cricket venue today. According to the team’s Manager Mohammad Hussain of SA Sports, a popular cricket and sporting gear shop in Brooklyn, “I am extremely confident of my team, although cricket is a game of much uncertainty.” The soft spoken Pakistani said his team was a relatively young one and the players have been performing extremely well in the Ed Ahmad Cup, as well as the Brooklyn League, where his sports shop also sponsors a team. He noted that several of his young players are all-rounders which add a nice balance to the squad.

Hussain predicted that if Trinidad & Tobago bats first, Pakistan would be comfortable with chasing a score in the neighborhood of 250 runs. He however said that if his team bats firsts, he would like to see them post 275 – 285 runs, as a difficult challenge for the T&T batsmen. When pressed further on his team’s composition, he admitted that Pakistan would be more dependent upon their batsmen to bring the victory home, for the first time since the wealthy Queens real estate tycoon Ed Ahmad became the major sponsor of the tournament.

Newyorkcricket.com contacted the Pakistani skipper Nadeem Younas, late yesterday afternoon and solicited a comment from the burly hard-hitting batsman, regarding today’s match. The batsman, who has delighted the Idlewild cricket fans over the past few weeks with his power-hitting, but brief stays at the middle, said “I am extremely confident in our team.” Like his team’s Manager, he too said he would like to give Trinidad & Tobago a score of 270 plus runs to chase, if his team bats first. The somewhat modest opening batsman said he was looking forward to good performances with the bat from his players Mohammad Shabaz, Mohammad Adil and Mohammad Afzal, along with wicket-keeper Razak and the equally hard-hitting Jahanzaib. The latter batsman previously made 70, including 5x6’s against Trinidad & Tobago. Adil’s bat has also exploded against Trinidad & Tobago before, when he hit four sixes in a half-century knock against the T&T bowlers.

The right-handed Shabaz is expected to bat at number four, with Adil at five followed by Jahanzaib at number six. Mohammad Afzal and Nadeem Younas are expected to open the Pakistan batting. When asked if the Idlewild crowd should expect his explosive bat, the power-hitter replied with a wry smile saying, “I will probably stick around for 10 – 15 overs,” modestly adding that it was not about him, but his group of younger players.

Pakistan has an excellent chance of capturing their first ever Ed Ahmad New York Caribbean Cricket Cup, if they bat first and give the T&T side more than 5.5 runs per over to make. I am not sure Trinidad & Tobago is comfortable chasing any explosive innings of the Pakistani team, if that explosion erupts into more that 275 runs.

However, I am sure the pundits will be looking for early signs of wear and tear from which ever team takes to the field first, because 50 overs under an expected sunny sky will have its toll on these weekend warriors.

As this summer’s sun sets on this portion of the Ed Ahmad NY Caribbean Cricket Cup, may the best team survive to victory!
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