CSS reign supreme, enter final

Anyone who is uncertain about the current strength of the CSS side needs to look no further than Wednesday’s match, where they fashioned out a dogged all round effort that left visiting Raha CC staring at defeat by 2 wickets in the first semifinal clash of the ongoing CSS Homeward Bound Trophy for the XVI Sharjah Ramadan Floodlit cricket tournament – A Division, conducted by the Sharjah Cricket Council.

Inevitability reigned as the defending champions lived upto their reputation and fought like champions to put pretenders to their place. Cruising to the grand finale was neither the shocker nor the stroke of luck; it was done through a lot of hard work, a matter of self-belief and collecting themselves together in rough times.

Set to chase a competitive victory target of 171, CSS had to be grateful to man of the match, Naeemullah, who finally came in to his own and made a stunning impact to turn the game on its head.

Naeemullah has long been the crux of this CSS team and yesterday he showed how destructive he could be when the chips are down – a trait he is known for. One of the ingredients to CSS success is Naeemullah, who time and again dishes out his firepower in powerful posture.

Just when the CSS badly needed to turn the tide, up came an innings of sheer brilliance from Naeemullah, who sized up the conditions swiftly and altered the state of affairs with a controlled unbeaten knock of 43 and along with Shibith (15 not out) helped CSS overcome a sterner Raha CC challenge in 34.2 overs with only 2 wickets to spare.

However, CSS’ pursuit did not quite get to the best of starts when they slumped to a treacherous 55 for 5 with Shashikanth (27), Asghar (25) and Kashif (16) all failing to build on starts as Raha CC bowlers kept a tight leash on the proceedings.

Tariq Hussain (2 for 22) and Naeem (2 for 22) threatened to turn the tables on the hosts before finally succumbing to the mercurial class of Naeemullah.

Earlier, batting first, Raha CC got off to an electrifying start when their opener, Naeem put the CSS opening attack to the cleaners before the early forced introduction of spinners brought some serenity to the proceedings.

Naeem launched onto a brutal attack on the bowlers, smacking a spanking 47 off 31 balls with 5 fours and 2 sixes but his bold efforts went in vain as the latter batsmen failed to keep pace and succumbed to a gallant fight back by CSS.

From a healthy 65 for 1, Raha CC lost their plot and sunk to a disastrous 85 for 6 with the spinning duo of Rizwan (2/16) and Akeel (2//22) doing the most of damage.

With the innings in shambles, Sultan took up the challenge and batted defiantly to craft a canny 49 while Aamir (16) and Farhan (17) rallied around him as a spirited Raha CC got up from the depths to eventually compile a challenging 170 for 8 wickets in the stipulated 35 overs.

Click Here for Brief Scorecard.

Thursday, November 20, 2003.
source : © UAEcricket.com.

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