The Bucks lost for only the 3rd time this season as MVP notable Sebastian Gianino was unable to hold off the Owls. He gave up 10 Earned Runs, doubling his season average as the Bucks came up just short in an 11-10 loss.
With Gianino struggling, the team welcomed back the captains’ long-lost cousin Aman Nasser to the fold. He went 1-2 in the loss but more importantly, it is possible to see him on the mound again heading into the final weekend to see if he can recapture some of that 2016 pitching skill he displayed on route to a Ramadan Championship and give Sebastian some much-needed rest.
Nadir Virjee had a welcomed resurgence at the plate going 2-for-3 and but this was Imran Merali coming out party for sure as he clubbed his 2nd home run of the season and picked up 5 RBIs against the Owls. His average is now at .469 this season and his stellar play is coming at a great time as the Bucks are going into the weekend looking to just win 2 of 3 to secure 1st place.
Minhal Jaffer was 1-for-3 with an RBI and the 2nd pick for the Bucks this draft now sits 8th on the team in batting average. Once a real power threat, Minhal is an x-factor that hasn’t materialized at the plate this season. Despite that, the Bucks have been rolling but if Minhal can shake off the demons, the Bucks are easily the toughest team in the league to beat and finishing 1st or 2nd won’t make any difference to them.
A Friday night loss to the Wolves will keep things interesting heading into Sunday, but they are just 2 wins shy from securing 1st place and preparing for a matchup against the Tigers, Owls or Eagles in the Semi-Finals.
The Eagles were saved by their defence again this weekend as they managed 1-1-1 record this week. The 6-6 tie against the Lions came with the Lions poised to win with the bases loaded and 1 out in the last inning. Solid relays have been their calling card with a number of outs made at 3rd base as the chemistry between Shortstop Ali Manek and 3rd basemen Abbasali Kermalli is unparalleled. That trend continued as they caught Zane Hussain for the 3rd out to end the tie game, plus Asad Hussain, Umair Ali, and Nabil Jetha were all tagged out at 3rd base this week. A testament to solid outfielders Hussein Champsi and Hasnainali Walli as they will likely welcome back Hussain Habib to the outfield this week.
Another one of our challenges last week was to Abbasali Kermalli offensively who looks like he is going to be just fine heading into the final weekend against his former squad, the Bucks. Abbas went 6-for-10 and upped his season average to .421 with a massive triple to boot. With a lot on the line for the Eagles, having their first-round pick play like a first-round pick heading into the playoffs is a massive addition to a team that has been hanging around the top of the standings all year. It would be fitting to see Abbas hit is first home run of the season in the last day of the season as he did last year.
Aqil Najafi went 8-for-10 this week and has found a new home in the batting lineup with the ability to get on base a much-needed factor to him moving up in the lineup. He scored 4 runs and had 4 RBIs for the Eagles including a massive game-tying hit with 2-outs in the bottom of the last inning against the Tigers.
To win their last two they need the Noormohamed cousins to continue to deliver the way they did this weekend. Minaz Noormohamed went 5-for-8 with a walk and now has a season average .444 good for 4th on the team. Ray Noormohamed was only 4-10 on the weekend but his biggest moment came in the bottom of the last inning against the Tigers where he hit a walk-off single through the infield to score the game-winning run from 3rd.
If the Eagles are going to shock the world and finish in 2nd place, they are going to need the Wolves to help them and beat the Bucks; before beating the Bucks twice in a row themselves on Sunday. So with that not likely going to happen, they are playing for 3rd place, a chance to face the Wolves in the one-and-done and not the Owls or Tigers.
Like so many teams have realized, the 2nd game of a doubleheader, teams seem to do noticeably better and that was the case for the Falcons this week. While they did go 0-2 this week, the Lions destroyed them putting up 21 runs but the gutsy Falcons put up a strong fight against the Wolves in the 2nd game. They got off to a hot start running the score to 9-1 after two innings but 5 runs on errors cost them the game.
For the first time in a long time the majority of the team was there with only Safder Jaffer and Abbas Nasser missing and if they start to get their chemistry going, they could surprise that 2nd place team in the one-and-done playoff in two weeks.
Raheel Rawjani finally made an appearance and his presence was felt as he went 4-for-5 with three RBIs in his long-awaited return. Having a first round pick in your lineup makes a huge difference and a very welcomed return for the squad desperate for a shakeup.
Imtiyaz Kara looked like his old self, going 5-for-7 with a walk and an RBI but in an injury-riddled season, it was his triple against his former club, the first triple of his season, that has his captains excited about his ability to play at a high level heading into the final weekend.
Arif Gulamhusein continues to struggle as he went 1-for-5 this week but Shahid Rahemtulla seems to be heading in the other direction. He led the way this week going 3-for-5 with 3 RBIs and has been hitting .450 since joining the Falcons in the Kara/Jaffer trade at the deadline.
The Falcons will be playing for pride against the Tigers as they get set to most likely face the Bucks or Lions in round one of the playoffs.
The Lions finished off their season ahead of everyone else both in the schedule and the standings as they wrapped up the weekend doing 3-0-1 against the Eagles, Falcons and Wolves. With two weeks before their next game, and first place nearly locked up, it’s some much needed time off for Captain Zane Hussain who was thrown out at third with the bases loaded to end the game against the Eagles for a tie – moments before dropping his 2nd fly ball of the game, this time it landed off his face forcing him out of the game on Friday night.
The Lions did better with Zane on the bench nursing the injury and a roster of only 8 players as they took care of the Eagles 11-9 in game 2. Altaf Champsi with 4 RBIs and Damien Ramnauth with 6 RBIs led the way for the shortened squad.
Damien Ramnauth going 12-for-15 in the last 4 games has earned him MVP considerations and he has broken out to be one the best players in the league this year. The Lions are now on a 3-game win streak after easily disposing of the Falcons and Wolves on Sunday – the two lowest teams in the standings.
Tarik Kamel, who was once one of the league’s elite pitchers, has had a rough season but is hitting .500 in his last 4 games upping his season average to a respectable .381. But on a team that put up 56 runs in 4 games, Tarik only had one RBI. Look for his cold streak to come to an end as the two weeks off should have him well rested heading into the playoffs.
Of all the surprises this team has had this year, none compare to the play of Hussein Jiwan. He sits 2nd on the team in RBIs and Slugging, 2nd in the league with 3 triples, and had 8 RBIs on Sunday against the Wolves and Falcons. (Noticeably, his brother Salman Jiwan has yet to have an at-bat with the Lions since the Falcons trade that brought him over.)
Of course, Asad Hussein led the way as he has been in the last few weeks – he smashed 5 home runs over the 4 games with a total of 9 RBIs for a commanding lead in the MVP race. He leads the league in Runs, Hits, Walks, Home Runs and RBIs. He is 2nd in OBP and Slugging and 3rd in average behind his teammate Damien Ramnauth. But after a nearly perfect season last year which ended in a finals loss, he is a man on a mission aiming to redeem himself and lead the Lions to a championship.
The Owls tagged the Bucks Sebastian Gianino for 10 Earned Runs, double his season average in their win this week. Asad Nasser showed composure on the mound as he held the high scoring Bucks to no runs in the last inning to hold on for a 1 run victory. Not only did he start the game by striking out his cousin Imran Nasser, he also had a 2-run triple in his only hit of the day.
Adnan Rashid has been quite all season but he had a big game for the Owls who are showing that they are deeper than many have positioned them to be. Adnan got his average up to .462 by going 2-for-3 and scoring 2 runs for the team.
Often overlooked due to his attendance this season, but Shane Nasser is having a great season with the bat. With only 16 at-bats, he is hitting .625 and went 2-for-3 also. Mohammed Railey was the only one on the team not to record an out, going 2-for-2 with a team-leading 2 RBIs this week to add to the continued run production that is not relying on any specific player.
The Owls run production this season has been coming from across the board with guys like Moe Abdalla, Abbas Fazal, and Hassanein Bhaloo all tied for 2nd on the team in RBIs. The Owls have two big games against the Wolves and Tigers this week but we are still waiting to see if Irfahn Khimji can join in on the run production for the Owls as he still sits at the bottom of the team with only 4 RBIs this season. He did pick up an RBI this week and his 11-Runs Scored is 3rd best on the team so if he joins in on the action, the Owls will easily climb to 3rd spot in the standings.
The Tigers had their torrid win streak snapped by the Eagles this weekend but they were without two of their key pieces in Bobby Bharwani and Mahmood Kara. With both returning to the lineup to finish the season, their spot in the standings is really up to them.
This week, everyone on the squad got on base except pitcher Azad Najfi who went 0-for-3 but only gave up 8 Earned Runs on the mound. But the surprise here was the continued hot bat of Nabeel Naqvi who hit a home run on a 2-for-4 day and scored a team-leading 3 runs for the Tigers.
Abbas Chagani played a solid game in the outfield but was 1-for-4 with a strikeout looking against the Eagles this week. Farhan Ratansi had a solid game upping his season average to .480 by going 1-for-2 with a walk to help the squad to their 11 runs.
The Tigers were most pleased with Nabil Jetha who had a breakout game going 3-for-3 with a double and scored 2 runs for the team. With contributions from the bottom half of the lineup continuing, and if Vick Vij continues to power through opposing pitchers (he had 2 home runs, 5 RBIs on a 4-for-4 day) the Tigers are going to be the team to beat going into the playoffs where we feel like they will finish in 3rd place.
With two games still remaining, anything can happen in the standings but it does look like the Wolves will finish in 6th place. This week, they went 1-1 allowing the Falcons to jump out to a commanding 9-1 lead after two innings before they stormed back to win 11-10. They were easily put away by the Lions who are looking quite comfortable in first place.
Last week we challenged a couple of veterans on the Wolves to step up and this week Samir Damani did so in a BIG way. Damani picked up 7 RBIs going 6-for-7 at the plate. His best day so far in his JMS career and contributing massively to their 24 runs this week.
Imran Virji is also heating up heading into the last weekend of the season as he also went 6-for-7 picking up 4 RBIs and continues to lead the league in triples as he picked up his 4th of the season.
Another veteran making his presence felt is Arif Hirji. He was traded to the Wolves for Hasanain Panju just prior to the deadline and since coming over has been hitting a strong .636 compared to .273 with the Falcons. (For those who are keeping score though, HP is hitting .857 since the trade to the Lions compared to .400 with the Wolves).
The Wolves will be paying close attention to the standings as it’s likely they will face off against the 3rd seed in the 1-and-done playoff. With the Lions and Bucks all but assured 1st and 2nd place, the Wolves will face off against the Tigers, Owls or Eagles.