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Eastern American Cricket Association 2008
BIG-4 FINAL - A Thriller To The End
East Bank Conquers The Hill

By John L. Aaron

August 29th, 2008
On a day made perfect for cricket, fans in the Queens, New York area were treated to a thriller of a match, as the Eastern American Cricket Association wrapped up its Big-Four 40-overs final at Idlewild Park, in Rosedale, Queens, last Sunday. The match was played in honor of Imran Ali, a 34 year-old EACA player who succumbed to cancer in June. (Gallery)

The victorious East Bank team.

With both teams smartly decked out in colored clothing provided by Paul of Tropical Nights Restaurant & Bar and a delightful crowd on hand, the stage had been set for a true Big-4 championship match-up, with Richmond Hill and East Bank meeting to determine the true championship team of the EACA’s 12-team 2008 roster, having both earned spots at the top of the ticket – Richmond Hill by defeating Atlantis and East Bank through a ruling of the EACA’s Executive Committee, following a delay of game and the absence of a second officiating umpire, at the start of the semi-final encounter between East Bank and Everest/ACS. The controversial ruling catapulted East Bank into the final against a club from which several of their players had parted ways, some three years earlier.

Steve Mangru captain of East Bank collects the winning trophy from sponsor Moti of Golden Arrow Sports Bar.

Richmond Hill's captain Tamesh Balwant receives the runners-up trophy from Hakim Mohamed of Naresa Palace.

Troy Harper (left) and Telston Johnson (right) poses with captain Steve Mangru. (Photos by Shiek Mohamed)

Thus the stage had been set for a true grudge match, as several of the players on both sides sought to capture the scalp of the other. Sometimes circumstances such as those described above, bring out the best in players. However, it was somewhat difficult to ascertain whether the statement held true in this case, as several balls were put down by both fielding sides. Was it nervous energy in front of a bi-partisan crowd? One can look at it from different angles and excuses. However, notwithstanding the dropped catches, there was enough excitement otherwise to produce one of the most thrilling finals in the recent history of the EACA and quite possibly the New York area.

Winning the toss, East Bank invited Richmond Hill to take first strike, looking to chase whatever the Hill had established. Richmond Hill was off to a boundary-scorching start indeed, posting 63 runs off the first 13 overs, before losing their first wicket, that of S. Sookdeo for 29, (5x4s), and after an hour and twelve minutes of play. Fellow opener Mustaq Yussuf would go on to score 34, (5x4s) before being caught off the bowling of East Bank’s skipper Steve Mangru. Richmond Hill’s top order five batsmen would go on to score an average of 28.60 runs each, as the Hill posted a somewhat appreciative 215 runs for the loss of 7 wickets in their 40 overs.

All-rounder Khaleem Bux, 31, skipper Tamesh “Cambio” Balwant, 25, Zaheer Saffie, 24, were the main contributors in Richmond Hill’s offer of 5.38 runs per over to East Bank.

Bowling for East Bank: Skipper Steve Mangru grabbed 3 for 38 off his 8 overs, while Deryck McDonald got 2 for 44 off of his 8. There were two run outs.

Climbing for victory
East Bank requiring just over five runs per over, were off to disastrous start losing opener and wicket keeper Debo Sankar, 5, spectacularly caught by Mustaq Yussuf off the bowling of Latchman Udai. The loss of Debo Sankar’s wicket forced fellow opener Royo Sankar to adjust his game-plan, as he tentatively tucked the offerings to him around the park, seeking out the singles and doubles, as they came his way. His eventual contribution of 54 would come off of only 3x4s and 6x2s. Such was his painstakingly valuable contribution to the East Bank XI. He would be rewarded with the MVP award for his patient contribution, while requiring a runner (Debo Sankar), for most of his inning.

As East Bank scratched around to find a way to stay abreast of the asking rate, Richmond Hill continued to provide chances, granting Royo Sankar two such dropped catches. Youth player Gregory Sewdial, 29 and Troy Harper, 39, steadied the middle order, with Deryck McDonald and Sohan Das, each with 20 apiece bringing up the rear in the scoring column. However, it was East Bank’s pace bowler Thelston Johnson, who brought home the victory. This column cannot do justice in describing the excitement, as Johnston strode to the middle, representing East Bank’s possible last chance at securing a championship victory with three overs remaining and 23 runs required.

As Sohan Das pushed the score along, it came down to the last over and eight runs, the crowd was now into the game as the live commentary announcers raised the adrenalin on and off the field, pointing out how close the game was and examining every possible angle of victory and defeat.

Nail-biting finale
Then, as Khaleem Bux, one of Richmond Hill’s mainstay bowlers took the ball for the final over, it exploded, as Johnston cracked a boundary through the covers that had all the markings of confidence, authority and self-determination. Royo Sankar would later describe it as the boundary that sealed the fate of Richmond Hill. Indeed it was, but not before the last three balls and the last three runs met on a rather precarious platform – two runs, two balls, then the match is tied, then one run to lose, one dot ball to win. It was over East Bank had come from behind sort of to clinch the 2008 EACA Big-4 title, defeating their nemesis Richmond Hill.

So it was a nail-biter with East Bank’s players climbing all over each other, much the same way they climbed out of the barrel with a helping hand from Richmond Hill on several occasions, to win such an exciting match.

East Banks 216 for 7 in exactly 40 overs brought the crowd to its feet and several of the East Bank players to tears, as the celebration begun. Bowling for Richmond Hill: S. Sadloo, 8-0-33-2, was supported by L. Udai, S. Wazid, S. Saffie and S. Raghubar, each capturing one wicket apiece.

Hardware Collection
Royo Sankar received the MVP trophy and a bat from Paul of tropical Nights Restaurant & Bar and cricket Guyanese enthusiast Isaac Bissoon respectively. He also garnered the Most Runs Award – a trophy, compliments of Nick from The Ranch Restaurant & Bar.

East Bank’s Steve Mangru captured the Best Bowler Award – a trophy presented by Ravi of Cricket Zone. The runner-up trophy was presented by Hakim Mohamed of Naresa Palace, while the championship trophy was presented by Motie from Golden Arrow Restaurant & Bar.

A very excited EACA President Rudy Persaud exclaimed that the EACA and the cricket supporters could not have asked for a better day for cricket, and a better finish to an exciting championship final.
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