New Writer, New Format…
The Falcons currently sit atop the standing after a hot 2-0 start. Deep and balanced lineup but for a team with very little power, a lot of balls need to find gaps for them to be successful. The outfield combo of Salim Chagani, Hassnainali Walli and Hussain Habib will have to play on their toes as former Cy Young Runner Up Altaf Champsi and newly converted pitcher Iqbal Jessa have been giving up a lot of hits and walks in Ramadan. Abbas Nasser has solidified himself as the team’s regular 2B but if he can convert into a power hitter, these guys will have a considerably deep batting order.
X-Factors: Arif Gulamhusein who has been getting on base at regularly needs to continue that and Nabeel Naqvi expected to make a start at 3rd base on Sunday could be a defensive weapon that can play almost anywhere.
Game 1: Falcons 5 vs. Wolves 7
Game 2: Falcons 7 vs. Bucks 9
The Bucks won their first game of the season but with a massive strikeout with the game on line against the Eagles in Ramadan play, Abbasali Kermalli showed their vulnerability. While they are deep team on paper, the rest of the league have been watching their Ramadan series against the Eagles and picking up on ways to beat them. Defensively they are strong on the left side with Nadir Virjee and Irfahn Khimji on the infield, and the Nassers in the outfield. But a lot will come down to pitching as Sarfaraz Karmali and Hussein Jiwan try to shore it up. Ramadan has produced a lot of questions about their ability to stay atop the power rankings but scoring runs will not be an issue if Ali Raza Nasser can repeat his MVP season, and if Kazim Merchant returns to his 2015 form.
X-Factors: Damien Ramnauth who may have found his home at rover and Shane Nasser who could be one of the top 1st basemen in the league by the time the season is over.
Predictions: Bucks will come in tough against the Falcons but look for them to meet their match against a motivated Tigers team.
Game 1: Bucks 9 vs. Falcons 7
Game 2: Bucks 5 vs. Tigers 7
Their 6th spot on the ranking along with losing 9-2 vs. the Falcons to start the season has Sam Valimohamed and his aging team fuming. With lots of practice in Ramadan, the team is going to try to turn back the clock when the season starts but success will come down to getting timely hits. If Ali Jessa turns out to be a power hitter, along with the power we have seen Shane Worthington capable of producing, they will move through the standings quickly. Aadil Jaffer looks to solidify their outfield and the surprising news that Asad Nasser could be given the opportunity to pitch has added a key element (Although he did give up 26 runs in an exhibition in Ramadan).
Game 1: Tigers 7 vs. Bucks 5
Asad Hussain will always be a factor but without some run support, this team looks like it will struggle. The news of Imtiyaz Kara’s leg injury will force Mohamed Jivraj to fill in at 3rd and he showed he can handle the hot corner (even with weightlifting gloves as batting gloves). So with their defence holding up, the real question is who will help this team score runs. Zane Hussain can get on base but no team will count on their roll players more than the Lions this season with a lot of the on-base production in the hands of Riaz Champsi (walk machine), and Aamir Panju (so skinny he floats on his way down from jumping).
X-Factors: Ajaz Sadiq has been making solid contact so turning him into a on-base threat will add a major lift. Arif Hirji needs to use some of that military muscle to pound the ball and give the Lions some much-needed power threat.
Game 1: Lions 5 vs. Eagles 11
Game 2: Lions 3 vs. Wolves 10
A lot of question marks coming out of the draft but after losing both games to start the season, a lot has changed for the Eagles. The question: Can cricket skills be transferred over to softball? Miqdad Jaffer has proven that it can happen but to prove his conversion from cricket to softball wasn’t a fluke, Komail and Raheel Rajwani have been surprisingly raising eyebrows during Ramadan. Raheel’s speed has been lightning and he is catching everything in the outfield. If Murtuza Amarsi and Farhan Ratansi can live up to their pre-draft hype and hit for some power, and if Minhal Jaffer plays to his ability, the Eagles could be one of the deepest team in the league (especially at 1B and pitcher and catcher).
X-Factors: With less than a week before the TCMV Eid Dinner, can Hussein Allidina separate himself from ticket sales to make an impact on the field? (For tickets and to register, visit: https://tcmvdinner.ca/
Game 1: Eagles 11 vs. Lions 5
Continuing their tradition of creating a laid-back clubhouse, the Wolves have put together a good mix of skill, personality, and depth. The biggest surprise has been the play of pitcher Mikael Ratansi; Now being touted as the Wolves starting shortstop! He is being pushed aside for star pitcher and former Ramadan Tournament MVP Aman Nasser. With Umair Ali shoring up the left side of the infield, and Ali Merali and Imran Virji handling the outfield, this is a strong defensive team. And they can score too! Contributing to their 26 runs against a primarily Bucks/Nasser team in Ramadan play were a number of rookies including Kabir Molu who hits opposite consistently, and Muzammil Jaffer who looks to have found a home at rover.
X-Factors: Abbas Mohamedali being able to play a strong 1B will shore up the already strong infield. Abbas Fazal’s play has also been surprising and if he and Samir Damani can hit and get on base, the Wolves will have that perfect balance of power and on-base bats to run up the scoreboard.
Game 1: Wolves 10 vs. Lions 3
Game 2: Wolves 7 vs. Falcons 5