Disclaimer: The analysis for the games already conducted are purely stats based and not qualitative since i was not present for those game. Though sometimes it doesn’t paint the entire picture but it’s better than nothing. Also, views expressed are solely my personal opinions without any outside input.
So it has come down to the semi final stage between the fantastic four. Before i go into the analysis/prediction of the final stages of the playoffs, i want to congratulate the management of WCL for conducting a great competition so far. Potomac, DC Capitals, Baltimore Tigers and 22 Yards are all thoroughly deserving and rightly seeded teams to have qualified for semis in my humble opinion. Potomac and DC Capitals have definitely proven to be the top two teams as one friend predicted at the start of the T20 season. They have definitely covered their basis in most if not all the departments and it has reflected in the results. 22 Yards has gotten stronger after the initial hick up and now looks like settling into a good rhythm with a minor room for improvement in their fast bowling department in terms of covering all aspects of a good combination. Baltimore Tiger has really shown grit and determination with their local talent and shown that they can’t be taken lightly at all.
Quarter Finals Post Mortem:
Baltimore Tigers vs Afghan at Metro Oval: Baltimore Tigers put up a decent total of 166 on board but given that they had fire power still to come, it seemed like a decent but under achieved total by the end of first inning. Shahid Hanif was the star with the bat with an unbeaten 82 helped by a steady 32 by Raunaq Sharma. Omar made the best use of his bowling troops and ensure that the best bowlers finished their quota and Abdullah Ghazi, Junaid and himself delivered with miserly spells.
Afghan was jolted early in their innings with the dismissals of their three in form batsmen twice by the experienced and canny Shamy Singh and once by Parvesh. Junaid Nadir is an excellent all rounder and he proved that by starting positively and making sure that Afghans don’t fall too behind in the chase but 55/3 in 10 overs made that chase a little challenging in the last 10 overs. With the equation jumping to 91 runs required in 7 overs, Mirwais started to play the required innings for such a chase but any hopes of chasing down Baltimore’s total evaporated with an excellent 19th over from Shamy Singh that claimed the prized scalp of Mirwais and Balimtore Tigers eventually restricted Afghans to 153 and booked their clash with DC Capitals.
22 Yards vs Fairfax at Metro Oval: 22 Yards CC won the toss and elected to bowl first. Fairfax Cricket Club (FCC)’s opening batsman Shallow started with the bang notching a four and a six off of Muhammad Asif but the bowler got him out the next ball and the game was underway with the most entertaining tone. Masud and Umair started to build the innings like they had been doing in the previous innings but Masud upped the tempo and started to take the bowlers on. 63/1 in 7 overs was a great start but the introduction of spinners (Gajanand and Pavan) halted the proceedings and only a great catch by Ali Ameeq could curtail Masud’s brisk innings of 49. Kevin Sinclair provided further challenge to the runs scoring opportunities and FCC started to lose wickets on regular intervals and eventually got to 150 at the loss of 9 wickets.
In response 22 yards openers (Ameeq and Derwin) started the chase with positive intent and made great use of Power Play. They made life easy for themselves later with 74 runs for a loss of only one wicket in the first 6 overs.
Ameeq Khan played a blinder of an innings of 53 runs of just 21 balls and reduced the run rate required to 4.50 with 11 overs still to go. Gowkaran Roopnaraine (aka Juicy) and Gajanand then finished the game off in 14 overs with Juicy providing the late fireworks in his 30 ball 41.
Semi Final Match ups
22 Yards vs Potomac at Veterans: This is a great match up and talent pool is arguably more closer in skill set between the two teams (no offense to other semi finalists and i will explain the reason later). My pick for this game is Potomac (65%) for couple of reasons. They have a settled unit from last few years whereas players for 22 yards (though not short on skills) are still in the process of becoming a bigger sum of good players rather than individuals’ brilliance. Secondly Potomac seems to have covered all of their basis historically and they will want to go in with their tried and tested weapons. 22 Yards is heavily reliant on the middle order for batting and spinners for bowling so if they are to win this then they would need assistance from all aspects of their game.
DC Capitals vs Baltimore Tigers at Veterans: This will be a matchup of a heavy favorite vs underdog and who doesn’t love a good underdog story. Baltimore is a team of great guys and they are full of talented local players but that might turn out to be the difference between the two sides since DC Capitals also have one of the best local talent pool alongside possessing a contingent of pro players which is always a big factor in crunch games. My pick is quite obviously DC Capitals (75 %) but i would love to be proved wrong. Baltimore would do well to win the toss and put up a match winning total on the board and try to put DC Capitals batting under pressure especially the middle order.