Tallinn Stallions vs Tallinn United
Stallions captain Saif Malik won the toss and decided to bat first on a typically windy day at The National Cricket and Rugby Field Tiskre. United captain Murali Obili would be looking for early wickets to minimize the total they would have to chase later in the day. EPL T20 leading run scorer Saif Malik (880 runs from 10 matches) opened the batting with Ali Masood, with Nand Lal handed the opening bowling duties for United. However it was Ashish Rana who got the early breakthrough in just the second over, having Saif Malik caught at square leg by Junaid Tanoli in a huge blow for the Stallions.
Ali Masood then steadied the innings with a fine 61 runs from 43 balls, sharing in 2 partnerships over 40 runs, first with Mohsin Naqvi and then with Bilal Masood, to take the score to 92/3 after 11.3 overs. After Bilal was dismissed for 28 from 18 balls some energetic hitting and running from Wahid Nazir (20 off 22) and Muhammad Rizwan (14 off 13) took the Stallions total past 150. They finished their 20 overs on 155/6.
Ashish Rana was the pick of the bowlers for United picking up figures of 2/27 from his 4 overs. Murali Obili, Junaid Tanoli and Ayush Ummat got a wicket each.
At the half way point the match seemed evenly poised. The Stallions would have been slightly disappointed with their total but fought back well after the loss of Saif Malik early. United’s batsmen would be confident of chasing down what seemed a very achievable total.
It was United’s top batsman and the EPL’s 2nd top scorer for the season Arslan Amjad (635 runs from 17 games) who opened with AP Patel joining him at the crease to begin the chase. Stallion’s Wahid Nazir opened the bowling and struck with just the 3rd ball of the innings, clean bowling Patel for a golden duck and beginning a massive collapse for the United top order. By the end of the 5th over United were reduced to 17/5 with Wahid Nazir getting 3 wickets from his first 3 overs and Bilal Masood picking up 2 from his first 2 overs. All 5 wickets were bowled in a supreme example of straight and full bowling from the Stallions openers.
United captain Murali Obili found himself at the crease with Vinod Kuvar with a huge amount of work to do. Murali played a brilliant captain’s innings, combining with Vinod to turn the game around and by the 15th over they had United 103/5 and within striking distance of an unlikely comeback victory. Murali was finally out, caught on the boundary for 49 from 38 balls leaving the United lower order needing 53 runs from 28 balls. Ashish Rana (11 off 9) and Junaid Tanoli (12 off 5) did their best but 3 run outs, including Vinod Kuvar (39 off 38) saw United fall 19 runs short, all out for 136 with 4 balls remaining.
The Stallions bowlers and fielding were top class all day. Wahid Nazir finished with 3/24 from his 4 overs, Bilal Masood and Muhammad Rizwan both picked up 2 wickets and great fielding under pressure at the end of the innings resulted in 3 run outs.
A fantastic finish to what has been a season played in difficult circumstances. Congratulations to Tallinn Stallions for leading the competition for the majority of the season and for ultimately winning the trophy. You have set a new standard for T20 cricket in Estonia and all other teams will have to lift their performances next season.