In a tensed and nail-biting match were fortunes changed in each over, Ahli United Bank confidently fought back to prevail over the spirited Boubyan Bank to win the coveted Watani trophy Cup final 2015 sponsored by National Bank of Kuwait. The Watani trophy league organized by Kuwait Cricket, the apex body of cricket in Kuwait and the pioneers in organizing cricket tournaments for all categories of cricket lovers in Kuwait such as Regular league tournaments, school cricket for boys & girls, Corporate cricket tournaments for Bankers & Shipping Companies as well as matches for Kuwait National team consisting of only Kuwaitis, the Bank league tournaments has become one of the most prominent corporate cricket tournaments in Kuwait where more than 200 bank employees of nine bank teams affiliated to Kuwait Bank Club get together during the weekends at the lush green Sulaibiya cricket ground to enjoy the fun filled cricketing atmosphere and also to play competitive cricket.
In all, nine bank teams to the likes of Al-Ahli Bank of Kuwait, Ahli United Bank, Boubyan Bank, Burgan Bank, Commercial Bank of Kuwait, Kuwait International Bank, Kuwait Finance House, National Bank of Kuwait and Gulf Bank teams participate in the Bank league tournaments. In the Plate group, Commercial Bank of Kuwait (CBK) won their second trophy of the season as they notched a comfortable 8 wickets victory over Burgan Bank. Winning the toss, Burgan skipper Anuj Rahtogi elected to bat first and Burgan did not get their usual impetus and were 5 down for 39 runs. Nitin Simon, the lanky fast bowler of CBK & Habib bowled a hostile spell on a wicket which gave some movement to swing bowlers. A solid and face saving partnership of 38 runs for the 6th wicket between wicket-keeper batsman Saket ( 21 runs) and Felix (24 runs) helped Burgan to restore some pride.
Nitin Simon was the most successful bowler for CBK with a spell of 3.1-0-2-3, while Habib (2-19) and Nawaz (2-8) shared the bowling honors. CBK skipper Shadab Abdulla marshalled his bowlers well and also shared the bowling honors taking 1 for 22 along with Zaheer Abbas (1-12) which helped CBK to restrict the talented Burgan batting line up. Burgan posted quite a decent total of 93 runs in 19 overs.
Chasing 94 to win the match, CBK lost their prolific scorer Ajith Nair who scored a scintillating 58 runs in the previous match to take CBK into the semi final. On the other hand, Nitin Simon and one drop Shadab Abdulla the CBK skipper put their heads down and after negotiating some tidy overs in the initial stages consolidated the innings with a fine partnership of 51 runs. Nitin anchored the innings with a patient 29 runs but Shadab belted out some elegant hits as he clouted three huge sixes and 2 fours to remain as the top scorer with 41 runs. It was a matter of time before CBK clinched their second title of the year. Nitin Simon was adjudged Player of the Match for his all-round performance.
In the second match of the day, star studded Boubyan Bank batted first against Ahli United Bank (AUB) and found themselves in the rather unfamiliar territory of a middle-order collapse and more disturbingly for them they lost Amir Javed, their most consistent batsman quite early in the innings. As in many games earlier, Boubyan always had the man in crisis, Hisham Mirza who stood amongst the ruins and along with Mazhar slowly consolidated the Boubyan innings. On a slow track assisting the spinners, AUB spinners Mahmoud Bastaki and Dinesh bowled well to restrict the talented Boubyan batsmen and speedsters Sajid Kalam and Nabeel Ghafoor bowled well in their opening spells.
Usually an attacking pair, Hisham and Mazhar didn't go berserk from the beginning and understanding the situation, played extremely well. Mazhar’s timely knock of 34 runs contained one six & two fours. In the death end overs, Boubyan skipper Faraaz Azizuddin hacked the ball with awesome power to score 18 valuable runs to take the score to 140 runs for 4 wickets in their allotted 20 overs. Hisham’s painstaking innings of 53 runs contained 3 hits to the fence & during the course of his 50 balls knock he belted 1 six too.
Even though the total of 140 looked much easier to chase, on a slow turning track AUB found Boubyan bowlers to be very hostile as they dealt a couple of quick blows while sending two set batsmen to the pavilion. Anuj was to depart first after scoring brisk 11 runs and then Ahmed and Fahad Bastaki put up a brave fight to post a 45 runs 4th wicket partnership.
One of the few Kuwaiti players in the banking circuit to take up cricket, Fahad with an improved temperament and cricketing skills stayed at the wicket to show a lot of maturity and his fast hands came in handy while guiding the ball late and a paddle sweep of Hisham to the fine leg fence was a treat to watch.
AUB sitting pretty well on top with 97 for 3 during the halfway mark suddenly were in dire straits losing 6 wicket for just 102 runs as the talented Boubyan squad not to give up the game so quickly got rid of Fahad Bastaki for an elegant 25 runs and Dinesh was acrobatically caught by Rifkaz Ibrahim. Still needing 38 runs to win the match with half the side back in the pavilion, Sajid Kalam, the south paw came to AUB’s rescue and played an influential role by blasting a brace of sixes to shrug off the inertia and guided AUB to its first title of the year with a 4 wicket victory over their arch rival Boubyan Bank. Sajid’s 10 ball knock of 30 runs with 4 huge sixes fetched him the Player of the match award too.
Murali Kutticode, Director, Junior & Corporate Cricket welcomed the Guests, players and spectators and applauded the efforts of Kuwait Banks club and its Vice Chairman Mahmoud Bastaki for his untiring role in supporting and sponsoring bank league tournaments. The entire gathering gave a big round of applause to National Bank of Kuwait Management for sponsoring the Watani Trophy 2015.
Asad Baig, Director General, Kuwait Cricket presented a memento to chief guest Yakoob Bader Al-Baqer from National Bank of Kuwait and mementos to NBK personnel Richard Nazareth and Khuram Rana for their meritorious service and passion to the game of cricket. Mr. Baig also presented mementos to distinguished guests of honor Leslie Rice and Andre Loots, top ranking officials of Boubyan Bank.
Yakoob Bader Al-Baqer from National Bank of Kuwait presented the Cup winner trophy to AUB skipper Mahmoud Bastaki and Plate winner trophy to Shadab Abdulla of CBK. Richard Nazareth of NBK handed over the Cup runner up trophy to Faraaz Azizuddin of Boubyan Bank and Khuram Rana of NBK presented the Plate runner up trophy to Anuj Rahtogi of Burgan Bank. Mr. Leslie Rice & Andre Loots presented the Player of the match awards to Nitin Simon & Sajid Kalam respectively.