Amsterdam sweeps Pakistan community tournament
The sun shone gloriously on Voorburg on Sunday, and the Pakistani community in the Netherlands made the most of the occasion, celebrating their nationís love of cricket with a six-team tournament which provided plenty of entertainment.
The organisers had opted for a nine-man, six-over format, getting through nine matches in less than seven hours. There were two teams each from Amsterdam (the Warriors and the Lions), Den Haag (Greens and Blues) and Rotterdam (Eagles and Panthers), playing first in two round-robin groups and then semi-finals and a final.
Not every well-known Pakistan-born player took part, but many did: internationals Mudassar Bukhari and Adeel Raja competed along with former VVV pro (Mohammad) Shahbaz Bashir, and such pillars of the domestic competition as Excelsiorís Usman Malik (Hussain), brothers Rizwan and Zishan Akram from ACC, and Dostiís Naeem Khalid.
The format gave a big advantage to the batsmen, with just seven outfielders opening up big gaps in the field, and there was plenty of big hitting, with 57 sixes belted in the course of the day. But if some of the hitting was a touch agricultural, and the catching at times downright awful, there was also room for some classic strokeplay, some accurate, disciplined bowling, and one or two catches that would have graced the IPL.
The most spectacular effort came early in the day, when a Rotterdam Eagles fielder ran twenty metres to his right at long on, stuck out his hand, and hung onto a superb catch at around knee height. It was, on the whole, the easy ones that tended to go to ground.
Watched by a crowd which grew to a couple of hundred in the course of the afternoon, including Pakistani ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudry and KNCB chairman Marc Asselbergs, the teams from Amsterdam and Den Haag dominated the group stage, both Rotterdam sides finishing winless after the first phase.
The Eagles did make the dayís highest total, hitting 80 against the Warriors, but then saw their score passed with two balls to spare.
Amsterdam Warriors then beat Den Haag Blues in the first semi-final, which left defending champions Den Haag Green to meet Amsterdam Lions for the other place in the final. But although they included brothers Mudassar and Farukh Bukhari and Usman Malik in their line-up, the Greens could only manage 57 in their six overs, and with Naeem Khalid making 30 the Lions reached their target for the loss of just one wicket.
So it was an all-Amsterdam final, and now it was the Lionsí turn to struggle with the bat. Naeem made another 16 before he was unfortunately run out, and the Lions finished on 55. Shahbaz made a fine 32 in reply before retiring, and the Warriors won with four balls to spare.
Saqib Sultan of the Lions took the dayís batting trophy, while Zishan Akram of the Warriors claimed the bowling prize. And Shahbaz, Man of the Match in the final as well as player of the tournament, ensured an Amersterdam clean sweep of the silverware.