Sharma's combo swing the opener
The domination of the Independent clubs ended yesterday when the Kowloon Cricket Club and Hong Kong Cricket Club combination beat them by two wickets at KCC in the season-opener.
Chasing a total of 205, the established clubs reached 206 for eight with seven balls to spare. Hong Kong skipper Rahul Sharma, captaining the combined clubs, led the way with an all-round performance that included five wickets and a top-score of 48.
Batting first, the Independent clubs were dismissed for 205 in the 49th over. Amar Najeeb led the way with 57 while useful contributions were made by Tabarak Dar (32), Imran Idrees (30) and Nasir Hameed (20).
Sharma was mainly instrumental for the restricting the Independents batting lineup taking five for 34 with his leg spin. 'This was only the second time the new pitch was being used and it seems to be a spinner's wicket,' said Sharma.
He then continued by scoring an invaluable 48 as the combined clubs carefully negotiated their way past the spin attack of left-arm spinners Najeeb and Munir Ahmed who grabbed two wickets apiece. Sharma received valuable support from HKCC Scorpions opener David Mallinson, who stroked 37, and KCC Templars teammate T. R. Kalyanraman, who hit 25.
But it was left to all-rounder Sher Lama to hit the winning runs, stroking Independents skipper and fast bowler Afzaal Haider for two fours in the 49th over - to third man and square leg - to bring up victory for the KCC-HKCC combine with just seven balls to spare.
'It was a very close match, a very competitive one. This is the first time we have beaten them in three attempts,' Sharma said yesterday.
The 2002-03 Sunday League will shrink to eight teams with the pull-out of KCC Colts from the premier competition. Friends XI will be also replaced by Sunday Merchants. Meanwhile the Saturday League will expand to 17 teams with the latest addition being SubCont CC.