After a few weeks off for Ramadhan, we were back on the field this past weekend featuring a slate of our regular 4 game schedule. We came back to some beautiful weather, but we figured everyone would be rusty coming into this one, as was evidenced by the lack of home run power. However, regardless of how few home runs (out of the park) were hit, there were plenty of runs that crossed the plate. Let’s break down the action for you one game at a time.
The Tigers were playing this one short handed with a roster of 8 players missing both assistant captains Maysum Jaffer and Bobby Bharwani. The Owls also short handed had their roster of 9 players and were notably missing their big hitter in Allen Ahi, who we hear is still nursing an injury from the last week before Ramadhan. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope he can bolster the Owls lineup, because they sure did need the run support on this day.
The Tigers started playing this one with 3 outfielders to try and cover much of the field and the Owls made them pay by finding all the gaps in the short outfield, compensate by moving up and they hit it past you, so the strategy definitely needed some revisiting. So to combat it, the Tigers decided to take their chances and leave RF open. Relying on the ability of pitcher, Abbas Allidina, to keep the ball on the inside of the plate. The strategy proved to be the difference maker as the Owls could never truly take advantage of the opening in the outfield. There was a couple instances where Hussain Habib would attempt to push the ball to RF. First time he tried the Tigers outfield read the switch right away and caught the fly ball, the second time he was successful but got called out by the umpire for stepping entirely out of the batter’s box. It seemed to scare the Owls from attempting it again.
The Tigers chipped away all game holding an 8-4 lead for the first few innings which then ballooned into a 17 run cushion. Mohammedabbas Walli had the game of the day accounting for half (11) of the runs that scored either with his bat, or with his feet. He hit for the cycle with an inside the park home run, a stand up triple, a couple of doubles and a single. However, none of that was scored as technical difficulties prevented the huge output from making the stat sheet.
Abbas Allidina closed this out the way he finished, in complete control and continuing his domination over opposing batting lineups. The Owls won’t have to wait long for a rematch as these two teams are set to face off when we come back the weekend of July 24.
The Lions came out of the gate with a roar (that’ll be the last animal pun I use in this article). The Owls started them off with a couple walks and then a Khalil Sivjee hit up the middle brought a couple runners around to score. All told, 8 batters came to bat in the top of the first and 3 runs crossed the plate. Little did they know that would be all they would need. The Lions have an advantage over the rest of the league, they have pitching galore – starting the game was Ali Jaffer and as people from behind the fence can attest the ball was dancing in and out, and if that weren’t enough they can go to Mohamed Somani next, and to top things off they also have Tarik Kamel should they ever need – definitely a luxury to have that many quality arms at their disposal.
With that in mind it took until the second inning for the Owls to get some runs on the board, a walk followed by 3 singles from the bottom of the lineup in Nabeel Naqvi, Mehdi Hasan Najarali, and Nabil Jetha brought around the only 3 runs the Owls would see for the day. As impressive as the pitching may be for the Lions, the hitting is equally so – this seemed like any easy outing as they followed up the first 3 run inning with 6 run mercy innings in the 2nd and 4th. The Lions ended up taking this one with ease as Mohamed Somani closed out the last 2.1 innings and although there were runners that got to 3B, they never really were a threat.
The Lions continue to pressure the Tigers for their top spot with some big wins in the last couple games, but with a matchup against the Wolves looming next week, we wonder if they’ll be able to keep up their pace. Owl definitely be looking forward to that one (guess I was Lion about those animal puns).
The Eagles came into this game winless on the season. Determined to make up some ground in the win column, and still desperate to get a full squad out to their games, they had 2 games to try. Things started out well after Imtiyaz Kara hit a single and then because of a base running mistake, was promptly thrown out when he thought about stretching it into a double. Followed by a strike out of Jaffer Kermalli in what we think was his first plate appearance of the year, so we’ll excuse the rust. The Falcons did eventually get a run on the board, but the Eagles countered with 4 of their own, headlined by a triple by Kazim Merchant. You read that correctly, the big man showed he’s not only a home run hitter, rounding the bases with the speed of a gazelle. It looked like this team was finally putting it together.
Unfortunately, this story doesn’t have a happy ending for the Eagles. The Falcons counter punched with two back-to-back 5 run innings. Taking a comfortable but cautious 11-7 lead into the 4th inning. The door was then promptly shut on the Eagles scoring efforts, many of the outs went straight back to pitcher Altaf Champsi who was masterful letting up only one extra base hit for the last 3 innings of this game.
This Falcons roster seems to be putting it together pretty well with almost every player, except one (sorry, Riaz Champsi), recording a hit on this day. They’ve got a hold of the 3rd place spot in the standings for now, but will take on the undefeated Tigers in their next game. This game is one to mark on your calendar as the two teams have yet to meet and the Tigers have defeated every other team in the league not named the Wolves, with relative ease.
With another game and another chance at making their mark in the win column, the Eagles set off to take on the Wolves. The Wolves have been playing the front half of their season against the Tigers and Falcons and have had a lot of close games, some in their favour, and some not. So back from the Ramadhan break and looking at having some games against the rest of the league, we wondered how this team would look – do they simply play to their opponents level or would they able to exert some dominance.
With 5 of the 6 first batters of this game all coming around to score, we figured it was going to be more of the later than the former. The power portion of the lineup, that’s Ali Nasser and Shane Worthington was on full display with Ali Nasser making another claim at that silver slugger batting title by having a 3 for 4 day with a double and 2 triples, he’s showing that his power display has been no fluke. Not to be outdone, Shane Worthington, had a 3 for 4 day himself, collecting two singles and a double. However, this team is really proving to be top heavy, the first 6 or 7 batters in this lineup are able to generate hits and score runs, but it really goes silent after that with the bottom of the lineup being very sporadic in its production. This might be something captain Ali Merali looks at through the coming weeks.
The Eagles were severely outmatched in this one, or perhaps exhausted from their previous outing as they were really only able to put 5 runs on the board, mostly coming in the last inning, when the Wolves already had a commanding advantage and decided to try building some new pitching depth sending Imran Nasser to the mound. The other Nasser, Abbas Nasser, not to be left out set a record of his own on this day – the first player in JMS League history to get called for catcher’s interference, it’s one record that won’t ever be broken, so at least there’s that.
This matchup won’t have to wait long for it’s rematch as it is the first game of the day when we resume on July 24. The game you want to watch for though is when the Lions and Wolves face off in the second game of the double header, that one we feel will let us know which team is contending, and which team is pretending. Let us know in the comments which you think it will be.
Remember there are no games this coming weekend (July 17) and we resume our schedule on July 24