By Saif Yasin
EACA Power 40 Competition
As the race to the playoffs heat up in the Eastern American Cricket Association Power 40 Competition, a few teams are fighting to secure their spots, Big Apple Cricket Club and Hillside Sports Club, squared off against each other on a cool breezy beautiful day at Bay Park.

Big Apple skipper Zaheer Saffie stroke his second ton of the season 108 against Hillside. Photos by Shiek Mohamed

Winning the toss fresh off of his ton the week before Zaheer Saffie elected to take first strike. For Hillside Sayeed Allie and Awaz Hasildar took the new balls, while a change in the opening pair saw the other centurion from last week, Francis Mendonca, open with Mark Gomes. Saffie’s logic behind the change in the opening pair was that with the playoffs right around the corner, he wanted to see which pair would be better choice to cement an early platform for the Big Apple innings. Gomes started out rather aggressively getting off the mark with a six over long on followed by two fours. However Hasildar would end Gomes onslaught in the 4th over as he had the batsmen caught behind for 18.

This brought Zaheer Saffie to the crease alongside Mendonca yet again yielded a massive partnership of 133 in 28 overs. The two were patient in their approach to crafting their innings, as neither batsman forced their shots. They respected good deliveries from the Hillside bowlers, picking up the ones and twos, but punished any bad deliveries to the boundary. Mendonca’s patience ran out in the 28th over as he charged down the track looking to take Shyam Bhatt to the boundary, but missed and was stumped for 61. With 12 overs to go Ryan Balram came to the crease and in an aggressive fashion yielded an 84 run partnership resulting in Saffie scoring consecutive tons. The partnership would end with Saffie being run out for 108 in the 40th over while Balram finishing on 41 not out. The duo saw Big Apple reach the formidable total of 245 for 3 in their allotted overs.

Inning’s Summary:
Big Apple Cricket Club:  245 for 3 (Zaheer Saffie 108 10×4& 1×6, Francis Mendonca 61 1×4& 3x6s, Ryan Balram 41 not out 4x4s)
Hillside Cricket Club: Shyam Bhatt 8-0-33-1 and Awaz Hasildar 4-0-28-1

Shawn Thompson took a five wicket haul of 5 for 30.

With a daunting task of chasing down 246 to win, Hillside sent out openers Harry Heeralall and Awaz Hasildar to open the batting. For Big Apple, fast bowler Telston Johnson took the new ball along with off spinner Mark “Chucky” Gomes taking it from the other end. Hillside looking to start the chase of positively was dealt an early blow as Johnson taking full advantage of the south eastern breeze got a delivery to swing back into the right handed Heeralall bowling him for 4. Gomes then had Hasildar stumped for 1 as the opener looked to charge down the wicket and tried take Gomes deep. He would then claim the wicket of Ralph Ogle departing for 14, also stumped. With Hillside reeling at 29 for 3 Sean Thompson came into the attack and spun webs around the batsmen.

The leg spinner claimed five wickets which included the explosive Sayeed Allie and dependable Altaaf Habibulla for 13 and 16. He then ended the resistance of Shameer Rahim for 22. Charlton Senior then came into the attack and picked up two quick wickets followed by Thompson cleaning up the remaining batsmen. He would finish with 5 wickets for 30 runs as Hillside were dismissed for 106 in 31.4 overs.  From skipper Saffie’s stand point it was a great win for the team. He also had this to say: “Our team is playing good all round cricket at the moment coming down to the playoffs, but there are still a few errors that need to be taken care of. A lot of senior players are coming through when we need them the most and the confidence in our players is only getting stronger with each win.”

Big Apple now prepares for one of their toughest test of season, that of Atlantis this Saturday 08/18/12 at the Baisley (Cage).

Inning’s Summary:
Hillside Cricket Club: 106 all out (Shammer Rahim 22 2x4s & 2x6s, Altaaf Habibulla 16 2x4s & 1×6, Ralph Ogle 14 1×4 &1×6)
Big Apple Cricket Club: Sean Thompson 7.4-2-30-5, Mark Chucky Gomes 8-1-26-2 and Charlton Senior 6-0-29-2.

We will bring you a live scorecard of the game between Big Apple and Atlantic this Saturday.