Asif’s firework light up Sharjah stadium as Marine sail to Bukhatir League title


Players of InterGlobe Marine celebrate with trophy after defeating Future Mattress in final.

InterGlobe Marine opener Asif Khan played one of the finest knocks in UAE’s domestic cricket to chase down a mammoth target and record an eight-wicket win over Future Mattress and guide his team as the champions in the Cup final of the 28th edition of the Bukhatir League powered by Fancode.

Asif scorched the Sharjah Cricket Stadium with a stupendous unbeaten knock of 164 off 72 balls with 16 boundaries and 12 sixes. He was well supported by Yasir Kaleem, who cracked 57 off 35 balls, and together they put on a 189 runs partnership for the second wicket after Future Mattress posted a total of 224 for 9 in 20 overs.

Asif’s knock was one of the finest demolition acts of a formidable bowling attack. So belligerent was his knock that bowlers looked helpless while bowling to him. Boundaries and sixes flowed from his bat like a rocket. Many of his sixes sailed out of the stadium.

The man who was in charge of providing the replacement ball was kept busy as most of Asif Khan’s sixes disappeared out of the ground. For those who turned at the stadium to watch the final contest, it was nothing but fireworks.

In the 16th over bowled by Haider Ali, Asif Khan hit the first three deliveries for sixes to achieve a hat-trick of sixes. In that over he hit four sixes and a boundary to take 28 runs. Two bowlers were hit for over 50 runs from their four overs.

The drama of one of the best finals of the Bukhatir League began with InterGlobe Marine winning the toss but opting to field. Openers Rohan Mustafa and Ansar Khan put on 25 runs in 1.3 overs before Mustafa got caught behind by wicketkeeper Yasir Kaleem off Touqueer Riyasat for 9.

Ansar Khan began to score at a brisk rate but at the score of 49, Mohammad Zahid clean bowled Abdul Shakoor for 2. Aryan Lakra who joined Ansar Khan took the score to 97 when Mohammad Zahid struck again to have Ansar Khan caught by Hameed Khan for 59. His knock off 26 balls had five boundaries and five sixes.

This was followed by an exhibition of brilliant batting from two of UAE’s most promising cricketers – Alishan Sharafu and Aryan Lakra. They put on a 79-runs partnership for the fourth wicket. Alishan Sharafu hit a 50 off just 33 balls with two boundaries and four sixes before failing to Junaid Siddique. At the score of 184, Lakra who scored 37 off 24 balls with three sixes departed becoming another Junaid Siddique victim.

Zahid struck again to quickly dismiss Usman, caught behind by wicketkeeper Yasir Kaleem for 7. One run later, Umair Ali too departed for a duck, caught by Vishnu Sukumaran off Junaid Siddique. Amjad Gul and Muhmmad Mudasssar took the score past the 200-run mark before Gul got run out for 13. Muhammad Mudassar swelled the score further before getting run out for 14. Future Mattress thus posted a massive 224 for 9 in 20 overs.

Many watching the match would have believed that such a huge target cannot be chased. But the drama that unfolded in the second half revealed they were wrong. Asif Khan scripted one of the finest chases in a T20 tournament along with Yasir Kaleem. Future Mattress had even struck early to remove the danger man and aggressive Sandeep Singh to the first ball of the innings. Abdul Ghaffar had Singh caught by Rohan Mustafa at mid-wicket.

But after the fall of the first wicket began the Asif Khan-Yasir Kaleem show. The first five overs produced 54 runs. Asif Khan raced to his 50 in just 29 balls. He celebrated his half century hitting Rohan Mustafa for a six over long on. InterGlobe Marine reached the 100-run mark in nine overs. Yasir Kaleem reached his 50 too in 27 balls.

Marine went past the 150-run mark in 14.1 overs and Asif Khan reached his 100 in 56 balls to become the sixth century maker of this edition of the Bukhatir League.

Yasir Kaleem got out caught behind by wicketkeeper Abdul Shakoor off Muhammad Mudassar when Marine still needed 36 runs for a victory.

Asif Khan hit all these 36 runs. His partner, Hameed Khan, did not get to score even a single run, and Marine won in 17.5 overs.

All that Hameed could do was to repeatedly pat Asif Khan on his back for the spectacular shots he played. Asif Khan returned to dug out to a standing ovation by everyone on the ground earning the title of ‘Mr Demolisher’ and receiving a shower of awards. He won the PSM Player of the final, Hemani Fragrances Game – Changer/Best batter of the match, and the Best batsman of the tournament with 256 runs.

The best Player of the tournament was bagged by Future Mattress skipper Rohan Mustafa who scored 178 runs and took nine wickets while the best bowler of the tournament was won by Future Mattress’s Abdul Ghaffar with 11 wickets. The Hemani Fragrances Game – Changer/Best bowler of the final match was won by InterGlobe Marines’ Mohammad Zahid.

The coloruful prize giving ceremony was attended by Nasir Akram, former Secretary General of Emirates Cricket Board and Executive Council member of Sharjah Cricket, Mazhar Khan, General Manager Sharjah Cricket and Match referee Tehseen Javed.

Speaking about his match winning knock, Asif Khan said: “I would like to first thank my teammates and our team owner for their constant encouragement.

“I have always been taught from early days to put in that extra effort and give extra focus in knockout matches, especially the semifinal and final, and I did exactly that this time.

“We followed a game plan to chase the big score and Yasir Kaleem provided the support and confidence.

“This is one of my most memorable knocks in UAE’s domestic cricket though I had once hit an unbeaten 178 in my debut match of the Bukhatir League. Any top class performance in a top domestic tournament in any country will catch the attention of the selectors, and I hope this knock of mine will ensure me a place in the UAE team.”

Yasir Kaleem, a wicketkeeper batsman who hit back to back half centuries for InterGlobe Marine in the semifinal and final, after hailing Asif Khan’s knock, said: “We had decided to chase down this total through our top five batsmen. Asif Khan played such a fine knock it took all the pressure away.

“This is the best knock I have seen from him. Regarding my back to back half centuries, I hope the selectors are watching me as I have been performing consistently for the last one year. This is our third T20 title and we have been winning mainly because we play like a family.”

InterGlobe Marine skipper Asif Mumtaz, while expressing his delight at winning the third CBFS tournament title, said: “We were not under pressure over having to chase such a big total. We knew that we had the batsmen to chase it and Asif Khan and Yasir Kaleem did exactly that. It was indeed a classy knock from Asif Khan and all credit to the entire team for winning this trophy.”

Future Mattress skipper Rohan Mustafa, after receiving the player of the tournament and runners up trophy, was sporting in his remarks. “All credit to Asif Khan for such a fine knock. I would not want to blame any of my bowlers. Asif Khan was outstanding hitting all around today.

“It was a good match. I also feel happy at having won the player of the tournament award. Right from 2004 till today, whenever I have played at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium I have given my best.

“It is a great feeling to perform here especially in such a prestigious tournament like the Bukhatir League.”

Addressing the teams, Nasir Akram said: “Bukhatir League has been an excellent platform for cricketers. This league has played a huge role in the UAE playing the World cup twice, and it has been performances from this tournament that set the stage for many domestic cricketers to reach the UAE team. We will soon be staging the 49th edition of the 50 over Bukhatir League too.”

Mazhar Khan, General Manager Sharjah Cricket, hailing the players for their show in the final, said: “What a game and what final it has been. This is what Sharjah has always provided. Two hundred and odd runs were scored by both the teams and the winners chased a total of 224.

“It was spectacular. A total of over 9000 runs were scored in this tournament made up of over 650 boundaries and 400 sixes. We are proud of all the players who played in this edition. This is the vision that Abdul Rehman Bukhatir had and we are happy that everyone lived up to it to make it another spectacular tournament.”

Brief scores:

InterGlobe Marine (IGM) bt Future Mattress by 8 wkts.

Future Mattress 224 for 9 in 20 overs (Ansar Khan 59, Aryan Lakra 37, Alishan Sharafu 50, Junaid Siddique 3 for 48, Mohammad Zahid 3 for 32)

InterGlobe Marine 226 for 2 in 17.5 overs (Asif Khan 164n.o, Yasir Kaleem 57)

PSM Player of the Final: Asif Khan IGM

Hemani Fragrances Best Batter of the Final: Asif Khan IGM

Hemani Fragrances Best Bowler of the Final: M Zahid IGM

Player of the tournament: Rohan Mustafa – Future Mattress (178 runs and 9 wkts)

Best Batsmen of the tournament: Asif Khan – IGM (256 runs)

Best Bowler of the tournament: Abdul Ghaffar – Future Mattress (11 wkts)


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