Game week 8 started off with the first match being played between Kashmiri Panthers and Chesham Mobiles. Kashmiri Panthers, desperate for a win, were put into field after Chesham Mobiles won the toss and elected to bat first. Chesham Mobiles had a stable start with the first two partnerships making 58 runs. However, the 3rd and 4th partnerships picked up momentum and scored over 100 runs in 8 overs, helped by a brilliant 35 off 12 balls by Fayyaz Muhammad. Chesham Mobiles racked up a big total of 190 in their allotted 20 overs leaving Kashmiri Panthers a bit of work to do. Ahsan Maqbool took 5 for -5 for the Panthers as a stand-out bowler.
In reply, the Panthers had an OK start and looked well on track to chase the runs down at the end of the 2nd partnership. However, things started slowing down for the Panthers from the 3rd partnership courtesy of some great fielding from the Chesham Mobiles team. The last pair for the Panthers were left with 51 runs to win the game which is harder than it sounds for the final partnership under pressure. The last pair only managed 6 runs in their 4 overs after some superb bowling by Fayyaz Muhammad who ended up with bowling figures of 3 for -7 and also won the man of the match award with a massive batting/bowling difference of 42 runs.
The second match was played between the table toppers, Big Bite and London Lions with the Lions looking to get another win under their belts. Umar Kayani, the Lions captain won the toss and chose to make use of the new ball by bowling first. Big Bite had a nightmare start with the opening partnership only putting up 9 runs in their 4 overs after losing 6 wickets. The second pair didn’t do much better by only managing 16 runs in their allocated overs. By this time the Lions were well and truly on the top with Big Bite under immense pressure. The next 3 pairs played a lot better under pressure and with the help of some great batting by Suliman Ahmad (31 runs off 11 balls) got the tally up to 121 runs. Hassan Taj had the best bowling figures for the London Lions of 3 wickets for 2 runs.
With a smallish total to chase, London Lions didn’t need anything spectacular, instead just a stable start and they got just that when the first pair put up 38 runs in the first 4. There was no looking back for the Lions after that who kept cruising along, over after over and chased down the target without any major threats. Zaheem Wajid played the best innings for the Lions of 30 runs and also picked up the man of the match award with a difference of 24 runs. Big Bite’s top spot became vulnerable after this defeat and they awaited the result of the last game featuring Lahore Tigers who could take the first position if they win their game.
Last game of the day was between Lahore Tigers and Punjabi Lions with the Tigers looking for a win which would take them back up to the top of the league table. Nabeel Ahmad, captain of the Punjabi Lions won the toss, and as the trend has been for season, decided to bowl first. The Tigers had a great start and started building the innings with good partnerships one after another. By the end of the 20th over, the Tigers had a huge total of 196 runs with the 3rd partnership between Sajjad Butt and Sajjad Hussain being the highest with 50 runs.
Sajjad Hussain played the highest individual innings of 30 and Nomi Aslam had the best bowling figures of 2 for -3. The highlight of this innings came when Asif Butt of Lahore Tigers hit a straight drive which looked like a 6 as soon as it left the bat, only to hit the hand of a fully stretched, jumping Nomi Aslam on the boundary wall who took an amazingly timed catch to the cheers and claps of the crowd, including players of the Lahore Tigers team which was good to see as this league is built around good sportsmanship.
In response to chasing a mammoth total like this, the Punjabi Lions needed a very good start. The first partnership scored 33 off their 4 overs giving the Lions a platform to build on. What came next was a disaster. The 2nd partnership consisting of Waqas Kayani and Faisal Rehman used their 4 overs to score a horrific minus 18 runs to bring the Lions total back down to 15 runs from 8 overs. This was due to some great bowling and fielding by the Tigers. The required run-rate after the 2nd partnership was sky high and the Lions needed nothing less than a miracle to chase this score down. What didn’t help the cause was the 4th partnership which put together only 9 runs.
The Lions ended up with 105 runs with Nabeel Ahmad being the highest scorer with 22 and Asim Raja had the best bowling figures of 4 for -11. This win put the Tigers back in the top spot of the table with only a better net run-rate separating Lahore Tigers and Big Bite. The highlight of this innings was another astonishing catch. This time it was Zeeshan Butt of Lahore Tigers who held on to a backward diving catch with both feet in the air while the ball travelled down at pace after hitting the ceiling with a brutally powered shot played by the batsman. The catch left the crowd stunned and excited as Zesshan Butt’s catch eclipsed the earlier one taken by Nomi Aslam. Although they were both extraordinary catches, for me, the catch of the tournament has to be the one taken by Zeeshan Butt.