Meraloma win thrilling BCMCL Playoff Final

The Final. Meraloma won their preliminary round match against Richmond C.C., the second place finishers in the league, the week previously thus guaranteeing themselves the opportunity to preserve the unbeaten season and take the title. Salim Akbar, last year's undefeated champions, finished third this season and had beaten both North Shore and Richmond in the preliminary rounds to contest the final.

This game looked in jeopardy all week. The forecast for Saturday was consistently rain, and yet more rain. Friday night saw a torrential downpour more reminiscent of a monsoon in Delhi than balmy Vancouver in September. So all the players must have been as surprised as I was to wake up to blazing sunshine on Saturday morning. Even more of a surprise was the discovery that the newly mown Brockton Point outfield was relatively dry. With both teams warming up diligently Wayne Fourie and Taj Mohammed strode to the wicket to toss. The 'Lomas were intent on batting if they won the toss, but the luck was with Salak and Taj called correctly. Salak elected to bat.

The new ball went to Steven Welsh, from the City End, and Andrew Downs from the Burrard Inlet end. Salak countered with Manoj David, an early season transfer from North Shore, and the ubiquitous Umer Nawaz. David has been a destructive player at times in this league, but he is having poor season and, as a result, is batting uncharacteristically slowly. Umer has also had a relatively poor year, but his smash and grab style hasn't change a bit. Welsh's first over was a tad nervous, he had plenty of pace but the radar was a little off. He still had Umer hopping around and madly scraping a single. Downs first over, also to Umer, was right on target. The first ball was short and rapid, Umer played an airy pull shot that wasn't in the same time zone. The second ball was a vicious bouncer which clattered into Umer's helmet as he tried another pull. Ball three went for four, off the outside edge and between first and second slip. Ball four was nicked wide of third slip where Dixon failed to hold a difficult one handed catch.

After the excitement of the first overs the game calmed down. Neither batsman looked comfortable, Umer continued to chip and mishit the ball into gaps, but the bowlers couldn't snare a wicket. Welsh did manage to persuade Umer to chip a ball to Robertson at square leg but, uncharacteristically, he floored it. The run rate was low, but a significant stand was building.

Loth replaced Welsh from the City End, and Kevin Sandher came on for Downs at the Burrard Inlet end. The pace of play remained the same, Salak were creeping along at 3 an over, not taking any chances, but not getting on top of the bowling either. By the 20th over the score was a mere 65, a miniscule total by Salak's big hitting standards.

The breakthrough finally came in Tassie Clippingdale's second over. Umer Nawaz went to slog Tassie over midwicket, missed it and Ken Wilson's finger went up. LBW, 66 for 1. Jeevan Tauro came to the wicket and he and Manoj David continued to putter along at about 3 an over. At the water break the score had edged up to 79.

Damian Loth commenced his second spell, from the Burrard Inlet end, and he finally got reward for some tight bowling as David sliced an attempted drive to Jon Snow at point. With the stand broken the 'Lomas set about pushing home the advantage. Tauro and Dhillon was a partnership that had to be broken, and it was. Again Tassie Clippingdale suckering the batsmen. Tauro went as he tried to play a cross the line at Tassie only to sky it to Sandher who took a routine catch at the second attempt. Canadian international Haninder Dhillon poked around for 24 balls before losing his head and trying to smash Clippingdale over mid off for six, the shot didn't have quite enough and he was well caught by Downs on the boundary. 93 for 4 off 32 overs. The 'Lomas were clearly in the driving seat now, if they could prevent Salak from capitalizing on their wickets in hand.

Shahid Naqi and JJ Dawood set about trying to push the Salak total to respectability. By using some intelligent running between the wickets, and some little dab shots they began to look as if they might rescue the side. Naqi then drilled a drive straight at David Bell, on as a sub for Damian Loth, and was well caught just off the grass. 110 for 5. Imran Khan, with his injured hamstring, came in but didn't stay long, an attempted slog was well caught by McGowan running in from midwicket, 120 for 6 in the 39th over.

For the final ten overs the quicks came back. Downs again up the hill from the Burrard Inlet end and Welsh from the City End. Downs bowled short of a length and quick, too quick for the SALAK tail and he bowled his last five overs for 8. Welsh was not so lucky. He yorked JJ Dawood but for some reason Salim Jaffer took a liking to his bowling. By using the close your eyes and hit method, Jaffer managed to smite 3 sixes over the short boundary. Fortunately for the Lomas his partners were unable to help out much. Hussain Dawood, who completed his fall from grace by batting at number 9 and not bowling, was run out. Qasim Dawood was also run out while Taj Mohammed nicked a Welsh outswinger to the keeper to finish off the SALAK innings. All out for 183 in the 50th over.

All of the Lomas bowlers did well. Tassie Clippingdale getting the lion's share of the wickets, 4 for 41, while Sandher's ten overs went for 24 and Downs' for a microscopic 17. Loth went for 39 while Jaffer's heroics reduced Welsh to 2 for 59 after having only gone for 13 in his first 6 overs.

183 is a decent total in a final and it was the most any side has scored off the 'Lomas attack all season. So it was interesting to see how the Lomas approached a chase which was not taxing in terms of run rate, but certainly was in terms of significance. You may draw your own conclusions.

Robertson and Dixon opened up for the Lomas against the by now familiar opening attack of Imran Khan and Salim Jaffer. Jaffer has lost some pace these days, he is 42, but he is still a wily bowler who can move it both ways. Imran is a steady performer, hitting the deck in the right areas and nibbling it around off the seam. Robertson watched the first delivery from Khan go for a wide and then played out a maiden. In a tense struggle Dixon got the score moving with a couple of boundaries off Khan while Robertson was unusually circumspect. By the 8th over the score was 23 and both batsmen were starting to settle. Unfortunately Dixon then cut at a ball which was too close to him and gave Jaffer a sharp but straightforward catch at gully. Robertson soon followed, edging an attempted cut to Naqi behind the stumps. Both dismissals to the steady Imran Khan.

McGowan and Downs found themselves at the crease together again. These two must be getting to know each other by now. The stand wasn't particularly pretty, but it was highly significant. For the next 18 overs they kept the score ticking along at 3 an over. McGowan punctuated solid defence with some lofted cover drives, while Downs played a couple of sumptuous flicks off his legs. The 29th over saw the demise of the stand. McGowan (31) tried to force the pace by driving Qasim Dawood over cover again. Unfortunately, he didn't get enough on the shot and David took a fine catch over his head. 86 for 3. As often happens, one brings two. Downs was out in the 30th over trying to run a ball from Manoj David down to third man, only to see it cannon into his stumps. Out for a patient 20. 88 for 4.

Wickets in bunches are never a good idea in a run chase. Jonathan Snow and Wayne Fourie set about rebuilding, one eye on the wickets and one eye on the runs. Both were looking comfortable until Fourie pushed a ball into the covers and called for a quick single. Now Snow is quick and anticipates well, but there wasn't a run and the direct hit had him back in the pavilion. Cue Chris White. White has been a solid presence in the lower order this season, and today he was called upon to fulfill that role again. He isn't going to hit you many sixes, but he will make contact. In company with the skipper, Fourie, White began accumulating. They came together with the chase looking dodgy at 100 for 5 in the 34th over and took the score to 151 for 5 in the 45th. Five runs an over at a vital time. Fourie was the first of the pair to go, in the 45th he felt the need to get a couple of boundaries and he picked the right ball, unfortunately he didn't middle it and it fell in the safe hands of JJ Dawood on the fence. Out for 26.

156 for 6 at the end of the 45th. The ask was still under a run a ball, but the tension was rising on the side as Steve Welsh strode out to the middle. Welsh hasn't batted in a while, and neither had anyone behind him so even a run a ball required a big effort. Four runs came off the 46th to take the score to 160. Jaffer was bowling his spin from the Burrard Inlet End while Qasim Dawood was dobbing in from the City End. Jaffer was tight and his overs were clearly difficult to score off, runs needed to be had off Qasim Dawood. Dawood bowled the 47th and thanks to three drives from White six runs were taken. 166 off 47. Welsh and White tried to pinch a single off the first ball of Jaffer's next over, but it wasn't on and White was run out.

Kevin Sandher and Welsh were in with 3 overs to go. They only managed three off Jaffer's over, taking the score to 169 from 48. Again Dawood would need to be attacked. Welsh was on strike and flashed him for a 2, and then Sandher belted the next ball back over the bowler's head for a four. A wide followed, and then a dot ball. Sandher then squeezed a single and Welsh finished the over off with another double. 180 off 49. Four runs off Jaffer required for the win. Sandher on strike. Despite some, finally, creative sledging from Naqi, Sandher flashed at Jaffer's first ball and it flew in the direction of gully, through his hands and for a single. Jaffer's next ball was full and wide and Welsh threw himself at it. A perfect extra cover drive flew through extra cover and the Lomas had won.

Meraloma I v. Salim Akbar I 
Playoff Final, Saturday September 11, 2004 
Weather: Clouds giving way to sunshine by the start 
Toss: Won by Salim Akbar 
Result: Meraloma won by 3 wickets 

Umar Nawaz   LBW  Clippingdale  33 
Manoj David  Ct. Snow b. Loth  24 
Jeevan Tauro  Ct. Sandher b. Clippingdale 17 
Haninder Dhillon ct. Downs b. Clippingdale  5 
Jawad Dawood  bowled Welsh 33 
Shahid Naqi   ct. Sub (Bell) b. Clippingdale 7 
Imran Khan  ct. McGowan  b. Sandher  3 
Saleem Jaffer not out 31 
Hussain Dawood run out  9 
Qasim Dawood  run out  4 
Taj Mohammed ct. White b. Welsh  0 

Extras: 17 Total 183 

Welsh  9.3 2 59 2 
Downs  9  1 17 0 
Loth   10 0 39  1 
Sandher 10 1 24 1 
Clippingdale 10 0 41 4 

FOW: 66-1  81-2 89-3 93-4 110-6 120-7 143-5 158-9 183-10 183-11 

Luke Robertson ct. Naqi b. Khan 8 
Iain Dixon  ct. Jaffer b. Khan 15 
David McGowan ct. David b. Q. Dawood 31 
Andrew Downs bowled David 20 
Jonathan Snow run out  9 
Wayne Fourie  ct. J. Dawood b. Q. Dawood 26 
Chris White  run out  37 
Steve Welsh not out 13 
Kevin Sandher not out 7 
Damian Loth dnb 
David Clippingdale dnb 

Extras: 18  Total 185 

I Khan 10 1 25 2 
S. Jaffer 9.2 0 33 0 
T. Mohammed 10 0  35 0 
Q. Dawood  10 0  56  2 
M. David  10  0  35  1 

FOW: 23-2  28-1 83-3 88-4  99-5 154-6 166-7 

Meraloma C.C.: Wayne Fourie, Steven Welsh, Iain Dixon, Luke Robertson, Andrew Downs, David McGowan, Jon Snow, Kevin Sandher, David Clippingdale, Damian Loth, Chris White, David Bell (12th)

Salim Akbar C.C.: Taj Mohammed, Umer Nawaz, Manoj David, Jeevan Tauro, Haninder Dhillon, JJ. Dawood, Hussain Dawood, Qasim Dawood, Imran Khan, Salim Jaffer, Shahid Naqi.