By James Persaud
This Sunday games will bring down the curtains on the New York Softball Cricket League 2010 season. There will be 4 finals in the Twenty20 and 2 in the 15 Over Knockout. It is very difficult to preconceive a winner in any of the divisions, but one thing is for sure that there will be no Triple Crown winner this season.

United Stars skipper Ravin Ivan. Photos by Shiek Mohamed

It is a wonderful season for softball cricket so far and as we look forward into this Sunday finals, the prognosis is for yet another day of excitements at the park. Last Sunday in the semi finals round there were many upsets, especially in the Premier division, with Hustlers suffering a loss to United Star and ending their quest for Triple Crown.

Two weeks ago I wrote about the level and quality of cricket the Hustlers team had played in the Twenty20.  I felt that their attitude towards winning showed a lack of determination and eagerness; they gave up two walkovers to teams which set them back in the overall ranking for the playoffs.

This gave the other teams a higher advantage to making sure their ride to Triple Crown glory gets a jagged path.

In last Sunday’s game United Star’s Captain, Ravin Ivan, showed his eagerness to finish the season on a high pedestal.  Ivan a very good student of the game, a young man who has played many big games in the past showed his quality with his leadership on the field. If it wasn’t for a few early mishaps on the field with holding onto the ball, Hustlers could have found themselves in even deeper troubles earlier in the game.  Ivan used his bowlers very sparingly and in short spell and even the dependable Bobby Pahalad found himself bowling until the last half.

Hustlers started their innings with Asif Ally and Kris Shobhai and both batsmen poised to getting on with the game. The pace of the game was very slow in the beginning with plenty of field changes while the batsmen found time for their discussions in the middle. Asif looked solid as he played himself in, while Kris looked more attacking. Samaroo and Ramoutar bowled a good line and length as the batsmen struggled to find easy runs. In the fourth over Samaroo got one to rise and Asif tried to whip it over the top only to find Manoj Sukhra running around at mid wicket and took an easy catch. As Asif made his way to the pavilion he was very disgusted with himself as he looked into the sky as if he was asking for just one more chance, he knew with the fall of his wicket this early could signal problem for the other batsmen. Asif Ally should be a proud man he had a good solid season, he carried his team in the two finals and he had his share of wickets.

Amar Singh unbeaten 57 ensure United Stars reach the final.

A double bowling change was made with Kayoon and Ivan, and Sudesh Persaud replaced Ally. Ivan was his usual self; he bowled as if not to get you out, and wants you to try hitting him-which many times could be very hard to do. The young Kayoon bowled probably his best spell of four overs for the season; he had Kris in stitches as he tried to weave his way out.  Kayoon was steady attacking the stump as Kris and Sudesh struggled to find the gaps and boundary and had to settle for singles and doubles as the scoreboard trickles on. Kayoon finished his spell for 17 runs and Ravin Ivan’s four overs cost 23 runs.

Sudesh and Kris put on 68 runs for the second wicket partnership in ten overs. Sudesh on 27 was the second wicket to fall in the fourteenth over and the new batsman Pooran Beria had no clue what he was doing and he was gone for a duck stumped of Bobby. Kris was batting patiently picking his shots but in the sixteenth over Bobby had him heaving one over to deep mid off and into the safe hand of the fielder and he was gone for a fighting 43 including 4 fours.
With the fall of Kris wicket it was then a steady exodus to the crease and back. The last six Hustlers wickets fell for 22 runs. Ivan took a spectacular catch to get rid of Ramesh Persaud, who drove the ball to extra cover of Bobby and Ivan diving full out stretch to his right and held onto the ball for Bobby third victims. Manoj Sukhra bowled his spell for 12 runs and took two wickets while Bobby grabbed 3 for 14 of four overs.

United Stars had a target of 118 runs, and Hustlers knew to stand any chance they would have to make an early inroad into the Stars line up. United Stars sent Amar Singh and Chris Ramlall to begin their challenge. Amar a solid opening batsman and Chris a young player who had changed team earlier in the season found himself opening the batting against his old team in the semi finals. This was a big move for Chris who has played as twelfth man for Hustlers many times in the past.

Both Amar and Chris batted very carefully choosing their shots while Hustlers bowled without any luck.

As the wind gushed across the park and the leaves fell from the trees, the chance of Triple Crown for Hustlers was falling just as fast. Kris tried desperately to keep the hope alive as he makes fielding changes and bowling changes using seven bowlers. The infielders were getting the job done, the problem was more with the outfielders who at times were just standing around and turning doubles into boundaries. This hurt the team’s efforts if the fielding was a little more restrictive the score book could have looked more ungenerous.  United Stars ended their first ten overs without loss of a wicket. Even at this point it was still a game with 55 runs still needed for victory, but the favor was hanging in United Star camp that still had all their wickets in hand.

When play resumed the crowd who was getting a little on the edge and on the cold side wanted some heat and actions from the batsman. The batsmen reply especially Amar who smacked one six and the only six of the game and six fours to top score with 57 not out. He was not to be out done by Amar as Chris raced to his half century, 54 not out including two fours and reaching their target in seventeen overs.

This weekend match up will bring together two of the best teams at present in the game, the Assassins will take on United Stars in the Premier division for a 12:30pm start.

Division IB
This division final will be between New Jersey and Better Hope. Better Hope has played undefeated so far in the competition and the last time these two teams reach Better Hope was victorious.

Division IIA
Lions and Apollo XI will be playing for the championship in this division. The young Lions and Apollo XI are entering their second finals of the 2010 season and will be looking to change things this time around.

Division IIB
Young Warriors and Volcano will do battle for the championship in this division. This is the second finals for Volcano who was demolished in the last one by T Bros Superstar. Young Warriors has being playing good cricket lately and will be looking to take this one.

15 Over Knockout
Sunrise will be taking on New Horizon for the division I championship and Ranchers will do battle with Champions for the division II championship.