We kicked off the first week of the Ramadhan 1437 Tournament and we had 5 games on the opening day within a 4 hour window, we also had time to eat in between there somewhere so needless to say the teams were busy for most of the time. To say that the evening was windy would be a slight understatement, the gusts and regular wind was so strong that it was bringing dust clouds into the faces of the players.
It made pitching very difficult as evidenced by the fact that most teams were standing and taking as many walks as they could. Defense was at a premium and those predictions we had from last week were all being challenged right out of the gate. So instead of giving you a game by game analysis which would take far too long we’ll give you some of the highlights, lowlights and our analysis going into this weekends round robin games for each team.
Initial Prediction: 2-3
This team was without their captain for the first day due to the aforementioned basketball tournament, and other than a short stint at the start of the game he never did take the field. However, when he left, the Blue team was up 6-0 on the Red team, and eventually took a commanding 11-3 lead going into the last inning. Pitcher Hasnain Kara, itching to play after a long break was pitching well, spinning the ball to fight the wind and was still getting good placement. However, the Red team almost mercilessly chipped away at that lead to eventually get a walk off victory thanks to win the game 12-11.
The Blue team was hoping to bounce back after that disappointing performance but met the Green team in what would be a blowout. Though they threatened early, uncharacteristic back-to-back strike outs from protected players Minhal Jaffer and Kazim Merchant, brought an end to any hopes of rally.
The final game of the night was a rematch against the Red team where the boys in Blue hoped to get revenge for their previous collapse. However, this was not to be as they must’ve over done in it at the dinner table. The Blue team was lethargic and not ready to play against a Red team that was warmed up and ready to play, eventually falling 16-2.
Our prediction was that this team comes out with a 2-3 record and this still remains a possibility, at least mathematically. We expect that they will have a good showing against the Black team and likely come out with at least one victory before the round robin. However, as captain Maysum Jaffer keeps saying, “Everyone makes the playoffs”.
Initial Prediction: 3-2
Another team who’s mathematical probability against our prediction remains. However, with the way this team was playing, we’re not really holding on to a lot of hope for it.
The Black team started out against the Red team, and had captain Bobby Bharwani manning the mound. Having never pitched in the regular season we thought this was a peculiar decision, especially given the difficulty in the wind, but what do we know. Apparently, quite a bit, as the captain fought the wind for most of the game and struggled to find the strike mat. Walking in a lot of the runs for a first game loss of 10-4. There was some rumblings of this team feeling as though they didn’t have the bodies to put together a strong outfield, but who needs outfielders when the other team is just walking around the bases.
Hoping for a better turn out in the second game of the night, the Black team took on the Green team. Having replaced himself on the mound with Sarfaraz Kermalli, the Black team was hoping to have a better showing. Falling into an early 6-0 hole seemed to indicate that it was going to be more of the same in this one, but then the bats came to life. With Mahmood Kara hitting an inside the park home run, and Abbasali Kermalli following suit with some power of his own. Then after one inning the game was all tied up. It all fell apart after that as the the Green team kept putting up runs and the progress on the offense had slowed considerable. Coming into the last inning needing 12 runs to win it, they put up a good fight, but ultimately lost this one by a score of 18-11.
We’re expecting some defensive alignment changes, and hoping that with less wind next week, this team will be able to get some strikes across the plate and make this more of a defensive game rather than one where they watch runs walk across the diamond.
Initial Prediction: 1-4
With the other two teams having a poor start, someone had to beat our predictions in a positive way, enter the Green team. Arriving 10 players at a time, entourage in hand, the Green team had an early practice going as they warmed up for their first game against the Blue team. You already know the result in this one, but let’s just say this team showed that they were going to be alright when never played before Aman Nasser proved that the wind wasn’t going to stop him from throwing strikes. Little did he know that positioned in left field was an also never played before Mehdi Nasser. Two pivotal positions having players that had never played before occupy them. When we say never played before, we mean it, these guys came with knee pads thinking this was all a joke and eventually a game of one-hit volleyball would break out. So when we saw Mehdi Nasser make the catch that would keep the Blue team off the board, it looked like this team was going to be good. They took the first game in a convincing fashion 15-4.
Their second game of the night against the Black team was another convincing victory, taking this game in an 18-11 fashion, we saw some of the other Nassers who play weekly show their stuff. Though Ali Nasser and Imran Nasser were consistently on base and bringing in runs in both games, it was Abbas Nasser, relegated to the bottom of the lineup that was the hero in this game, hitting 2 inside the park home runs to make amends for the 0-3 performance in the first game.
One warning with this team, a lot of their base runners happened on walks that allowed their bigger bats to bring them across. Without the wind to help, we’re not sure how the offense will fare in next week’s games. For now, we have this team coming out on top with an overall 4-1 record out of the round robin.
Initial Prediction: 4-1
We had them predicted to finish in first after the round robin, and so far, this team has not disappointed. They had some early gaffes going down 11-3 to the blue team, but captain Hussain Habib got his troops mostly in line to close that game out. Slowly chipping away thanks to production and patience throughout the lineup, the eventual hero in this one was newcomer Abbas Najarali who hit a walk off single and was then mauled by the rest of the team.
The winning trend continued for this team as they found their pitcher in Mikael Ratansi who didn’t seem to have the wind phase him and was able to find the strike zone despite the distractions of dust clouds in his face. As predicted though, this team has hitting throughout their lineup and rarely any weaknesses that can be exploited. They got a lot of help in the second game with the walks that were given up, but a strong defense helped them hold this lead and win this game 10-4.
In the final game of the night, the Red team set out to show that the schedule makers made a mistake in hiding the Green team from them. In commanding fashion they put together a complete game, decimating the Blue team in the rematch by a convincing score of 16-2. It seems like the Red team has their lineup, defense, and players all figured out. Earlier we said that captain got his troops mostly in line – we say mostly because there were at least a couple incidents where late pickup Imran Virji thought he could tag up and advance on a ball hit to the infield and failed to do so (you’re fast, but not that fast, Imran), or clean up hitter Arif Lila refused to use a courtesy runner. Needless to say, this team had fun and swept the day. We see no reason they won’t do the same this weekend, and take a perfect 5-0 record into the playoffs.