By Sam Sooppersaud
Photo Gallery | Scorecard
The last cricket game (apparent) in any organized cricket tournament in the New York Metropolitan area was played at Marine Park, Brooklyn, on Sunday, October 14, 2012, with the staging of the Hussain Rana Twenty/20 Finals. The finalists being Punjab Lions and Bedessee Destroyers.
The tournament, co-sponsored by Emirates Airlines, was organized and sponsored by Rana Sporting Goods, located at Emmons Avenue, in Coney Island, Brooklyn. Rana is one of the major distributors of name brand cricket equipments in the United States of America. Mr. Hussain Rana is very active in sponsoring other cricket events, and players, not only in the USA but in the West Indies and specifically, Guyana.
According to a source, they are the outfitters of the Guyana National (cricket) team. For many years now Mr. Rana has been active in helping young players who show good potentials, to acquire their cricket equipments. I personally can vouch to this. As a coach with Newcomers High School in the Public Schools Athletic League, and being in a position to identify young talents, I have on numerous occasions approached Mr. Hussain and requested assistance for one youngster each year. He has never turned me down. He is always willing to furnish whatever gears may be needed by the young man.
There was a large turnout at the park, the diehard cricket fans figuring that this would be their last opportunity to watch a cricket match this year in the NYC area. The weatherman cooperated with temperatures being in the 70′s. Many fans were seen entering the park decked in their light winter coats, but no sooner than they came out of their cars the coats were gone. Such was the weather for the game. The sun shone brightly.
The game was a low-scoring one yet it created the excitement that is renown to T20 contests. The final run for the winning team was not hit until the last ball of their 19th over. The Punjab Lions took first knock. Bedessee opened with their slow bowlers, a practice that has become a constant in this format of the game, much so internationally. In the very first over they lost a wicket via the run out route. A careless misunderstanding by the batsmen, attempting a third run, saw one of them stranded (6 for 1). By the half way point (10 overs) they were 42 for 4, with two victims falling by the run out route. Wickets fell at regular interval. The best (7th wicket) partnership was 28 runs between W. Aktar (15) and Z. Khan (11). The innings folded at 95 runs for 9 wickets with skipper Bilal Ahmed scoring 26 of those runs.
In the bowling department for Bedessee Destroyers: K. Lake 4-1-17-2, T. Walter 4-0-25-3, A. Kirton 4-1-21-1 and B. Bartley 4-0-17-1 accounted for the Lions wickets.
Needing 96 runs for victory, The Bedessee Destroyers commenced their inning cautiously. In the 4th over they lost S. Ali, who, normally a run getter, but looked completely estranged to batting reality. His misery ended when he was caught at short mid-off for 2 runs off the 10 balls he faced. At the other end the baby faced Quasen Alfred was having an easier time scoring freely than his subdued opening partner. At 20 for 1 in the 4th over, Alfred had scored 18 runs. A 40 runs partnership between Alfred (42) and Zaheer Saffie put the Destroyers on target for an easy victory.
But the Lions turned in their best performance in the face of imminent defeat. From 60 for 2, the Destroyers slipped to 64 for 6 wickets in the 13th over. Punjab put on the death hold but it was not enough to pin Zaheer Saffie (14 N.O) or Skipper Andre “Rusty” Kirton (18 N.O).
But the victory did not come easy for the Destroyers. With 26 legal balls left they needed 28 runs. At one stage both batsmen were bottled in, getting a single here and there. But then they decided to showcase a grand finale. It was now 20 required runs in 18 balls. In the 18th over Rusty belted a maximum over long-on followed by two doubles. Two wides followed: 8 runs needed in 12 balls. Skipper Bilal Ahmed took the ball and four deliveries, two doubles and one boundary later, the Bedessee Destroyers were the 2012 Rana Twenty/20 Champions.
For Punjab Lions, A. Nasim turned in excellent bowling figures of 4-1-10-3. B. Riaz and R. Akram claimed a wicket apiece for 20 and 18 runs, respectively.
At the presentation ceremony that followed Shadi Khan, Coach Linden Fraser, American League President Wesley King, and Babbar were recognized for their generous support and contribution to cricket and to the tournament. Each was presented with a plaque. All the players, on both sides, were given a trophy in recognition of their participation in the final. The Most Valuable Player (MVP) was awarded to Quasen Alfred for his 42 runs scored and an excellent job behind the wicket, claiming two victims, one caught, and one run out. He received a cricket bat. Bilal also received a bat for his consistent scoring during the tournament. To the Punjab Lions, the Runners-Up Trophy and $1000 check, and to the winners, Bedessee Destroyers, the Winners Trophy and a $2000 check.
It was a fun day of cricket in which the fans were entertained. For me and my cricket-watching buddy, Richard Jogie, it was kind of nostalgic. Being at Marine Park brought back fund memories to us of our playing days at that venue in the 70′s, 80′s and 90′s. We met a few of the guys against whom we played: Albert Texiera, Pappy, Owen Joyette, Don Parris, and Glynne Hurley. Together we reminisced over the numerous battles we had on the cricket field and the bond of friendship that we forged.