MVP of the Day
Kumail Meghani – 4/7, 3 HR, 5R, 9 RBI, 1 BB
Pitcher of the Day
Asad Nasser – 13 IP, 2 W, 9 ER, 6K, 1BB
The Bucks lost for the first time this season in a spirited affair with the new look Lions. The final score was 8-7 as they pressed towards the end but didn’t have enough in the tank. Prior to their first loss of the season, they easily handled the Tigers 14-8.
Some unexpected heroes this week as Imran “Bugs” Merali finally broke through with a huge HR vs. the Tigers and 3 RBIs. And it was a week for triples but not from whom you would think as both Daanish Jaffer and Sameer Karim picked up their first triples of the season.
Captain Ali Raza Nasser led the way in a losing effort with 3 RBI’s of his own and regain the team lead and start closing in on the league lead. It was only a couple of seasons ago when ARN dominated the league on route to his only regular season MVP award.
Of the guys that we’re keeping an eye on on the Bucks, the question has to be asked if Nadir Virjee can snap out of his early season struggles. Nadir’s .154 average is well below his career numbers (.400) and with him basically unable to reach base (.214 OBP), the Bucks have a gaping hole at the bottom of their line-up.
Entering their first game against the Owls, the Eagles were the only remaining undefeated team in the league and that lasted all of 1 hour as the Owls handed their lunch to them. Hussein Allidina proved he was human as he gave up 4 Earned Runs on 10 hits. He did settle down against the short Falcons team who were only able to get 1 Earned Run on 7 hits against him.
Still shocked from the news that they aren’t brothers, cousins Ray and Minaz Noormohamed continued to refuse to play together again this week but it proved to do them well. Minaz went 2-3 with an RBI in his game and Ray went 1-2 with a walk in his. With both players expected to play next week, the team has something to smile about as Minaz is 3rd on the team in OBP (.500) and Ray’s solid play at 1st base is keeping the error-prone Abbasali Kermalli locked in at 3rd base.
AK looks like shades of 2017 Abbas where he didn’t get a home run until the last day of the season. The pressure of getting drafted 3rd overall and demanding to play 3rd base seems to be weighing him down as his .400 average (.100 points lower than his career average) and mediocre defence suggests. However, he still does have either a better average or more RBI’s than anyone selected with picks 2-10 in the draft.
The guy we are looking for a bounce back game from is veteran Hasnain Kara. He has been off to a great start this season hitting .429 but a rough couple of games this week saw him strike out twice against Asad Nasser.
The Falcons shocked the world with their blockbuster trade that saw two of the three new acquisitions making their debuts. However, with a depleted lineup, the Falcons struggled mightily but credit to them for finding a way to play shorthanded and not forfeiting any games.
This week wasn’t just a debut for the newly acquired guys, it was also the career debut for Sajid Alimohamed. With obvious work needed at the plate as he went 0-6 in his debut, the real story here was his stellar fielding as he caught everything hit in his vicinity. This revelation will likely put a big smile on the Captains faces as they traded OF Arif Hirji last week with no replacement in sight – until now.
Shahid Rahemtulla who came over in the trade also made his Falcons debut and avoided playing catcher by offering to pitch in place of Riaz Champsi who was unavailable. Shahid gave up 10 earned runs in his 3 and ⅓ innings of work before being replaced by Tanveer Husnani who shut the door against the Eagles but then gave up 10 earned runs of his own against the Wolves.
The other debut this week was Safder Jaffer who slotted comfortably in his new home at Shortstop for the majority of the two games. Safder didn’t hit the ball particularly well going 2-8 with a double but has a .182 average so far. We are going to be looking for him to have a bit more comfort at the leadoff spot next week and be able to set the table for the rest of the guys.
The new-look Lions seem almost embarrassed about the ridiculous maneuvering that took place at the trade deadline which saw them pickup their now 3rd best player Miqdad Jaffer. An almost unrecognizable smiling and relaxed Miqdad took to 2nd base after the debacle in his last game at shortstop with the Falcons last week and he proved yet again why the Lions won this trade. He calmly went 4-for-8 with a double, triple and 5 runs scored.
The Lions pounded the ball this week with 29 hits, going 2-0 vs the Tigers and defeating the previously undefeated Bucks. But even with the new look infield, the errors keep mounting up for the Lions as they committed a total of 8-errors leading to 7 runs scored against.
Returning to the Lions for the 2nd time in as many years was Hasanain Panju. Brought in to play 3rd, he is establishing himself as a premier 3rd basemen this season and his 3-for-7 batting was respectable. As the infield starts to take shape, the Lions are looking like a squad poised for another championship run.
The Lions have a new batting leader as Hussein Jiwan showed up this week hoping to join his brother on the field but Salman is yet to report to the team. Hussein on the other hand came, went 2-3, left and is now leading the team with a .571 batting average. His 7-at bats don’t do it justice so we’ll be keeping an eye out to see if the brotherly reunion can keep him atop the team lead.
Although they stayed quiet at the deadline, the Owls got one of the biggest makeovers of the season with Hassan Abbas Kara unexpectedly returning to the lineup this week. Hassan Abbas was one of the most sought out players early this season and a big reason why the Owls pulled the trigger on the Raheel Rawjani trade to bring in Moe Abdalla. The addition of Hassan Abbas make the Owls outfield the strongest in the league as he is joining Kumail Meghani, Salim Chagani and Moe Abdalla.
That proved to be the case as the Owls dominated the undefeated Eagles and the winless Wolves. This stellar outfield recorded 24 fly ball outs behind one of the best pitching performances in Asad Nasser’s career. He gave up a total of 9 runs and 6 strikeouts in his two wins. He even helped out with the bat going 3-6 at the plate with a double and 5 runs scored.
But the big guns will always steal the spotlight and that’s exactly what happened every time Kumail Meghani came to the plate. His epic performance rivals only a few ever seen in JMS history as he quickly is solidifying himself as the best player in the league. Kumail scored 5 times, had 9 RBIs and smashed 3 HRs in his two games this weekend.
The weakest link on this team at the moment is #4 overall draft pick Moe Abdalla. He currently is in the basement in batting average hitting .136 well below his average of .500 and has looked lost at the plate this season. There is still time for him to turn it around and if he does, the Owls for the first time in franchise history will be entering the playoffs as legitimate contenders.
The Tigers just seemed over matched in the two consecutive 14-8 losses this week. They faced the new look Lions who are now considered a favourite to win it all and the Bucks who maintained their undefeated record against the Tigers. 11 errors were committed in their two losses really leaving pitcher Azad Najfi out to dry.
Najfi did continue to pitch relatively well given the circumstance but gave up 19 earned runs so his ERA has skyrocketed to 10.13 however, he is still leading the league in strikeouts. He did pick up his first two hits of the season as he went 2-for-6 with an RBI.
Nabeel Naqvi was a pleasant surprise this week going 4-for-6 and it is expected that he will be moving up in the lineup to help the Tigers score some runs as guys like Umair Ali and Bobby Bharwani look like they are heating up.
Bobby Bharwani went 2-5 bringing his average to .412 but his two hits were doubles proving that he can still chug around the bases. When he slipped to 19th overall in the draft this season, many thought it could be one of the steals of the draft but for that to widely accepted, he will have to keep up the at-bat production and stay second on the team in hits (7).
For those in the Azmatali Mehrali sweepstakes, he went 0-for-5 with a walk this week bringing his average to .143; Still comfortably higher than Falcon Shane Worthington and former Falcon Moe Abdalla.
The Wolves faced off against a very strong Owls team this week and were unable to get past their hot bats and good defence in a 13-7 loss. Going into their 2nd game, there were the only winless team in the league but that changed quickly as they took advantage of an undermanned Falcons team beating them 17-4.
Mehboob Ajwani is surprising a lot of people this season. His stock fell drastically this year as he was not selected until the later rounds but his .500 average is clearly him playing with a chip on his shoulder this season. He went 1-for-2 with a walk in both games for the Wolves but with only 10 at-bats so far, it’s unsure if this is a blip in the radar or if he can continue this pace.
Hard to get your first win of the season and not look to the Championship pedigree the Captains Ali Merali and Imran Virji bring to this squad. The team finally won and it was on the backs of their leaders as Imran led the way going 5-for-7 with 5 RBIs while Merali went 3-5. Oddly enough, Merali was 3-for-3 in the loss to the Owls but 0-2 with a walk against the Falcons where they scored 17 runs. Imran’s stellar numbers this week don’t come without guys getting on base and it was clear, especially with pitcher Mikael Ratansi.
As the Wolves committed 9 errors, it was Mikael Ratansi who ERA may have benefitted the most from that. He gave up 9-earned runs in the loss, but gave up 0-earned runs against the Falcons. (Falcons scored 4 on errors) His criticism has been that he is a one-tool player who can either pitch or get on base but can’t do both in the same game. But against the Falcons he did as he went 1-2 with two walks and 3 runs scored along with Abid Kara and Mohamed Walli who both showed their tremendous value as on-base contributors.