ACC’s good fortune began with the coin-toss going in their favour, allowing Sadaranghani to put Warriors into bat, with Ahmad Mughal and skipper Ahsan Ali taking to the crease.
A solid first over from Ashan Fonseka gave away just six runs, while the second over worryingly bled 19 runs, but also saw the loss of Ali (10) being clean bowled by Shivam Sachdeva.
Muhammad Yasir’s partnership with Mughal would yield 31 runs until umpire Michael Flowers dismissed Yasir (6), who was decisively trapped LBW by Fonseka.
Abubakar Siddique (12) would anchor the Warriors’ innings until the 10th over break, helping to bring the score to 92 for 2. The interval however, served only to break the Warriors’ momentum, with the spin factor of Lenny Leerdam luring Mughal (72) into attack and smashing two successive boundaries, before his third attempt only found the hands of a focused Manish Sadarangani verging near the rope, ending the Warriors’ star’s innings.
Mughal’s replacement, Muhammad Adeel Ali (7), also fell to the temptation of Leerdam’s spin, finding Jagsir Brar scouting the boundary in the 13th over.
With the score on 119 for 4, Warriors would disappointingly add only 38 more runs from the remaining seven overs thanks mainly to a spirit breaking four over spell by Nishant Grover, who claimed four Warrior scalps for a paltry 20 runs, leaving them on a total of 157 for 9.
A confident ACC opening partnership of Rishi Sadarangani (30) and Joseph Ninan (15) utilising the strategy of tracking the Warriors’ run rate with a combination of one dynamic batsman while the other steadied the ship.
Ultimately, the plan worked to perfection before Yasir dismissed both in the same 6th over, the former clean bowled and the latter deemed LBW.
The fleet felling of two important wickets would momentarily lift the Warriors, but the introduction of an in-form Fonseka supported by Manish Sadarangani soon quelled hopes as both settled into a similar strategic routine, while keeping in touch with the required run-rate.
Seeing the score on 119 for 2, the 14th over proved the game’s turning point when Fonseka let loose on Faisal Butt to elevate the run rate by smashing 24 runs, including four 4s and a 6.
Fonseka’s innings (62) would falter in the very next over, however, as the Sri Lankan was slow to return to his crease after backing up a potential single too quickly, with Mughal’s accurate throw proving curcial.
Still with five overs remaining, but only eight runs required for the win, Sameer Khan entered the fray when Manish (35) relinquished his wicket to the safe hands of Sharma, this time off Yasir’s bowling.
Needing only two runs for victory, Mughal would bring an anticlimactic close to proceedings, as umpire Flowers signaled two wides and a return to the ACG clubhouse for ACC celebrations to begin.
An entertaining game was eventually won by experience and arguably some under par fielding from the Warriors who, having beaten ACC on three previous occasions, agreed to the better team winning on the day.
Ashan Fonseka’s performance earned him the final’s MVP award, with Patong Penguins’ Craig Morgan claiming batsman of the series, Kashmir’s Malik Iqbal awarded best bowler, Ahmad Mughal deservedly taking series MVP and Jagsir Brar securing the best fielder award.
Additionally, players applauded the efforts of all the umpires and scorers and the coordination between Curt Livermore and the ACG to ensure a successful tournament.
A new series will be announced in the coming weeks, while Phuket cricket and the ACG prepare for the return of the Asian Cricket Sixes Tour to be held from Apr 20 –23.
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