Two competent teams battle for the cup with exciting results, reports SUJITH KRISHNAN
After months of captivating action, the MPCL Amba Bazaar tournament hit a crescendo with the finals played on February 26 at Glen Waverley with Southern Rocks emerging winners in what was a successful tournament in its inaugural year. Rocks triumphed over their recent stuttering form on the big day to go past the in-form Jai Hind CC in dominant style, as their opponents failed to cash in on the opportunities that came their way during the match. Senthil won the man-of-the-match honours for his brilliant all-round performance on the day.
Put in to bat first, Rocks got off to a blistering start with Parag (35 runs) and Senthil (31 runs) combining to make up a fluent 61-run partnership for the second wicket. Both batsmen took the attack to the bowlers with hits all over the park as Jai Hind wilted under pressure in the field by the onslaught. However, against the run of play, a mix-up between the two batsmen resulted in Parag getting run out and from a position of strength, 77/1 in 10 overs, Rocks stumbled to 94/4 in 15 overs, thanks to some inspired bowling by Satish and Mukund. At this point, it seemed like Jai Hind were gaining control of the match but cometh the hour, cometh the man and out walked the unflappable Captain Shafi who played yet another gem of an innings (37 runs not out) under pressure. Mukul and Mastan provided useful support to Shafi who paced his knock to perfection unleashing a flurry of big hits towards the end of the innings; Rocks eventually posted a challenging total of 171/8 in 25 overs. Understandably, at the halfway stage, Rocks looked the more confident side with an eagerness to step out onto the field.
Jai Hind has been one of the most professional and consistent sides in the competition with the bat but on the big day, their big guns, Jay, Arun, Tushar and Ulhas surprisingly failed collectively to stamp their authority when it mattered most. However, the lower order showed some mettle in combat as Shantanu (27 runs), Tejas (10 runs) and Mukund (13 runs) frustrated their opponents playing out the entire 25 overs to settle for a respectable 147/9. Rocks were brilliant in the field with Subbu and Senthil doing most of the damage with the ball. The jubilant Rocks were elated with the win and it’s the character, talent and the camaraderie shared between the players that have helped Rocks combine effectively as a team throughout the competition. And, with an inspirational leader like Shafi at the helm of affairs, Southern Rocks have unquestionably reached the summit in gobsmacking fashion.
With the excitement of the end result yet to kick in on the day, the focus then shifted to the presentation ceremony which was well orchestrated by the organizers Nitin and Madan. The occasion was graced by the presence of Mr Phil Cox, President of City of Moorabbin Cricket Association (CMCA), Ms Jenni Ashkar, Executive Officer CMCA, Mr Jim Ahon, Topline Cricket and Mr Vamsi Budige, Amba Bazaar. Genuine wicket-taker Subbu (Southern Rocks) won the award for the best bowler of the competition, Ulhas (Jai Hind) was voted best batsman for his string of consistent big scores and Vignesh (Melbourne Tuskers) was chosen as the player of the series for his brilliant all-round performances.