Metropolitan Cricket League
By Sham Ali
(Celebrating 30th Anniversary):-Faizal Taj produced two excellent all round performances in the double-header last Sunday at Floyd Bennett ‘Roy Sweeney’ Cricket Field as Cosmos secured a spot in the Metropolitan Cricket League T20 semi final. Taj’s inning was brief as he blazed the Staten Island bowling attack with absolute contempt to remain unbeaten on 47 not out off just 19 balls as cosmos raced to a comfortable 10-wicket victory over Staten Island.

Faisal Taj of Cosmos struck an unbeaten 49 from 19 deliveries.

The match had to be reduced to 15 overs after heavy overnight rain delayed the start. The toss was crucial on this wicket since the team batting first had to negotiate batting on the pitch that was still damp.   A reinforced Staten Island team had some difficulty as Sohan Dass exploited the conditions and in the process struck early blows in his first and second overs to remove both openers.  A 20-run partnership between K. Mehta and R. Morrison ended in the 8th over via run out when they attempted a sharp single to Sham Ali.  Cosmos turned the pressure knob and the runs dried up as Cosmos spinners posed even more problems to the opposition on a sticky turning pitch. The informed A. Syed who usually bats at #3 made a surprised late entrance batting at #7. But with the score on 47 for 5 in the 11th over he had little time to settle as his team required quick runs. He too fell to the pressure and was run for just 6 runs before Staten Island was bundled out for just 65 runs. S. Dass took 2 for 16, M. Kissoon 1 for 15, F. Taj 1 for 7, and K. Dass 2 for 3.

In reply Cosmos had a bigger fish in Spice to fry later and Taj and Cyril Choy wasted no time playing their shots as the pitch had dried out. The air show though was over in a flash as Taj with 47 runs not out ( 5 6’s, 2 4’s) blazed the boundary lines seven times with two fours and five towering sixes while Choy (14) absorbed the show at the other end as Cosmos raced to 66 runs without loss in just 5.3 overs.

The tougher of the two opponents in the double-header was expected to be Spice Island, who had sprung an upset defeat on Cosmos earlier in the season in the Round Robin competition. But on this occasion they offered only a fraction of a fight which came in the first three overs of the match after Cosmos had won the toss and inserted them to bat. David Williams struck the first ball from Ricky Kissoon’s for six and then got bowled from an inside edge off the next ball, yes bowled. The umpire claimed that he did not see. Williams was very noisy in his plea to influence the umpire that the ball had deflected off the wicket-keepers pad. Well, the replay was very clear, bowled! However, replay is only for posterity and the umpire after consultation with his partner ruled not out.

Unfortunately, Cosmos has been on the receiving end of these adverse decisions before, but Sohan Dass remained unfazed as he swung the ball appreciably and eventually sliced the partnership. He then ran through the opposition top order as they slumped from 40 without loss in 4 overs to 68 for 5 by the 12th over with Dass bagging 3 for 15. At the change Taj closed the door at one end with 1 for 6 off 4 overs while the experienced Mohan Kissoon mopped up the tail with 3 for 5 as Spice Island, probably haunted by the earlier fiasco never recovered and  was bundled out for a paltry 86 runs.

With a match to be won and a chance of Cosmos earning a semifinal spot for the third time in the season Taj and Keddy Lesporis walked to the wicket to open the batting for Cosmos. It was Lesporis who dominated the highlights of the 67-run partnership with some exquisite drives through the off side that raced passed the boundary ropes on seven occasions. The aggressive Faizal Taj who is perhaps one of the most fearsome T20 players in the country and unfortunately omitted from the USACA shortlist for their T20-trials because he did not satisfy eligibility requirement. He showed a necessary contrast to his aggressive temperament; the ability exercise patience and play the anchor role as he rotated the strike to his partner, Lesporis, who was striking the ball with authority. When Lesporis went via one of those lbw decisions for an entertaining 47 runs (7 4’s) Cosmos was poised to zip-up this match. With the score on 67 in the 9th over Taj (23 not out) and Dass (6 not out) tapped on the accelerator as they knocked off the 88 runs required by the 12th over and Cosmos completed an emphatic 9-wicket victory.