By Sham Ali
(Celebrating 29th Anniversary):- Cosmos got off to a flier in their 2012 season opener last Sunday against Island Wide at Floyd Bennett field with two brilliant performances from their young players; a five wicket haul from debutant Sajid Salam and a brilliant century from Faisal Taj.

Faisal Taj led Comos batting with a brilliant 112 not out off 84 balls. Photo by Shiek Mohamed

It was 17-year old Salam who mesmerized the opposition with a controlled spell of spin bowling after cosmos had won the toss and chose to field, while Taj followed with a brilliant century. This feat was another added onto an illustrious Cosmos 29-year history and a first in each inning of a match since paceman Tyrone Stewart bagged 6 for 32 at Walker Park against Staten Island in 1987, and went on to win the bowling honors three times in four seasons in the Metropolitan Cricket League.

Opening bowler Sham Ali held a steady line and eventually made inroads into the top order with 2 for 30, while his partner Rasheem James, was quite erratic as he struggled for control of the new ball, with 7 wides in his opening over, operating from the Aviation end. At the change of bowling, Island Wide batsmen stubbornly resisted an economical spell from left arm orthodox Ricky Kissoon who went wicket-less for 15 runs off 7 overs as the runs dried up. Cosmos was looking for a breakthrough as the opposition batsmen proceeded to build slowly to 83 for 3 off 22 overs. The introduction of  young Salam, in his first big outing showed no nerves as he delivered the crucial blow with his 4th ball, one that pitched and turned through the gates clipping the top of D. Sobers middle stump on it way.

It was not until the 31st over that Cosmos got their next wicket. Terry Wells held one end and offered a counter assault forcing M. Kissoon (1 for 48) out of the attack. With the score on 143 for 4, Cosmos got the crucial wicket of Wells, who went for a well played 56 runs, when left arm orthodox Anjel Acharya deceived him with a flighted delivery that drew him out of his crease and K. Narine picked his bails.

It was Salam though; who looked like he enjoyed bowling showed the maturity at this level and rose to the occasion. He grew in confidence with every over as he spun the ball appreciably passed the outside edge on several occasions. He continued to peg away at the opposition with a tantalizing spell as he weave a web around the opposition until he struck again in his 5th over, and subsequently affected a collapse. He struck twice in his 6th over and again in the 7th for wicket #4, with a liking for the middle stump. A chance to bag his first five wickets was delayed due to some turbulence at extracover from the first ball of his 8th over. A leading edge looped and went in, and oops popped out, when Leonard Achaibar forget to close his hands – the commentary read “that’s a terrible drop catch” that extract a few choice words of ‘encouragement’ and stamped feet from the senior players and little disappointment for the young bowler.

Cosmos vs Island Wide scorecard.

A last chance to complete a memorable feat appeared lost with one ball left in his spell. Fortunately there was reprieve for Achaibar and excitement the young Salam when a straight hit that looked like it would have cleared the boundary was measured well and Taj held onto well judged catch. Sajid Salam is the name, 5 for 30 off 8 overs and the youngster announced himself in his first match for Cosmos in the Metropolitan Cricket League with FIVE WICKETS IN THE MATCH and became the 18th bowler in Cosmos history to have achieved this feat. Acharya, 2 for 10 in 4 overs, then trapped R. Uaz as island Wide inning closed on 163 all out in 38 overs.

Faisal Taj took Haraldo Marshall under his arms as his opening partner and they confidently walked to the wicket. Marshall ceased the opportunity with patience while Taj priced his with runs. As if Sajid Salam’s five wicket haul was not enough to dent the opposition batting line-up, Taj proceeded to punch a gaping hole in their bowling attack. He and Marshall added some taste and a preview into the 2012 season from a green Cosmos team with an excellent century partnership.

Taj found extra-cover, mid-on and mid-off boundary with fluency, while Marshal kept the score ticking. This pair first time at the crease has produced one of the best opening partnerships for Cosmos in the last decade. The opposition had few answers for a stonewalled Marshall and a powerful Taj, two batsmen if contrasting styles. Taj reached his fifty with a thumping six over mid-off and raced into the nineties while Marshall constructed a strong fence of singles. Cosmos bench was warm as their batsmen waited anxiously for a touch of the ball, however this pair was businesslike and ensured that their team sit comfortable.

With the score in 149 for 0 in the 25th, and Taj on 97 runs, Marshall committed his first error when he tried to rotate the strike and succeeded in pushing a low catch to the bowler. A brilliant partnership of 149 runs ended as Marshall departed for a good 39 runs, somewhat disappointed.  The former Guyana national player Sohan Dass kept Taj’s nerves in quite, however the stroke that brought up his century was anything but quiet, a thumping straight drive to the boundary. It was vintage Taj who found the boundary on 14 occasions with 8-4’s and 6-6’s. Cosmos sealed a 9-wicket victory in the 27th over in a typical Taj fashion, a huge six over mid-on to close his inning on 112 not out off 84 balls. It was good all-round effort from this cosmos outfit as the look forward to a long season.