Amsterdam takes season's first title
The Amsterdam Knight Riders retained their Pakistan Community Championship title at a windswept Westvliet on Sunday, as six teams representing Amsterdam, Den Haag and Rotterdam defied the bitterly cold conditions to produce some entertaining cricket.
International stars Mudassar Bukhari and Ahsan Malik Jamil, former international Adeel Raja and such stalwarts of the Topklasse as Shahbaz Bashir, Usman Malik and Mohsin Ghaznavi shared the limelight with players from less fashionable clubs and the lower divisions, and despite the miserably cold conditions a reasonably large crowd gathered to watch the final between the Knight Riders and the Den Haag Greens.
Led by Ghaznavi, the Knight Riders – whose side also included Shahbaz, Raja, Mehmood Sadiq, Rizwan and Zishan Akram, Shahrukh Akhtar, Masood Khan and Nadeem Akhtar, all of them experienced players in the top flight – went through the day undefeated, beating Rotterdam Eagles and Den Haag Blue in the group phase and then overpowering a young and surprisingly competitive Rotterdam Panthers team in a one-sided semi-final.
The Panthers had earlier pulled off the shock of the tournament by defeating Bukhari’s Den Haag Green team, and reached the semi-finals despite losing to Amsterdam Lions in their second group match.
Bukhari had a remarkable day, hitting an unbeaten 57 and performing the hat-trick in his side’s opening match against the Lions, being dismissed by the first ball of the innings in the Greens’ next two games, and then smacking a rapid 24 in the final to set up a total of 51 and ensure a hard-fought contest.
A steady 31 not out by Sadiq was the basis of the Knight Riders’ reply, however, and earned him the Man of the Match award as well as taking his side to the title.
The Batsman of the Tournament was the Rotterdam Eagles’ Faisal Iqbal, who scored the only half-century of the tournament apart from Bukhari’s, while Raja Ali (Amsterdam Lions) took the bowlers’ award. He took four wickets with consecutive deliveries against the Rotterdam Panthers, surpassing Bukhari’s feat earlier in the day. Mohsin Ghaznavi took the Fielder of the Tournament award.
A range of some sixteen companies sponsored the tournament, including main sponsors Ortel Mobile.
The event was again supported by the Pakistani ambassador, HE Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry, who completes his term in the Netherlands this year and who has been a keen supporter of the organisers, the Pak Patriots, since they were established in 2009. He was present for the final, and during the awards ceremony afterwards he paid tribute to the group’s work in support of charitable causes in Pakistan and in creating a bridge between the Pakistani community and their adopted homeland.
Mr Chaudhry noted the increasing presence of second-generation Dutch Pakistanis in the community, and praised the group’s vision in using cricket as a medium for social integration. The Patriots’ chairman, Mohsin Salman, presented him with a plaque to mark the occasion.