MERCHANTS duly beat St George's by 102 runs to be crowned CMI Saturday League cricket champions at Mission Road yesterday. Playing their last league game of the season, Merchants had to defeat St George's to confirm their number one status and avoid runners-up Kai Tak from sneaking in. They did so, easily. A first-wicket partnership of 218 runs between Sada Hussain (124) and Thrupty Nimkar (94) set the foundation for a massive total of 327 for two in 35 overs. Saleem Malik chipped in with a quick-fire 68 not out. Nimkar, who was aiming to score his first century of the season, was run out in a mix-up with Malik. In reply, St George's batted out their 35 overs to finish on 225 for five. Captain Papu Butani and Moshin Hafeez took two wickets each. 'It feels good to have won the title. It has been an all-round effort from everyone and they are a great team,' said Butani, paying tribute to his side. Merchants finished the season with a 16-1 record and aggregated 196 points. The only blemish in their 1995-96 campaign was a season-opening loss to Saracens. That loss made their task harder with Kai Tak in the running until the very end. Kai Tak can be forgiven for feeling a trifle unlucky at the outcome of their match against Police earlier this season. That game was abandoned after rain had forestalled Kai Tak's bid for victory. Instead of winning a maximum 12 points, Kai Tak shared the points with Police - a result which has proved crucial in the end. But Kai Tak skipper Alan Burge refused to pinpoint that game as the turning point in the League. 'The Merchants deserve to win the league. They beat us and that proved that the best side has won the title,' said a gracious Burge. 'We knew that when we lost to them, that our chances of winning had vanished.' 'It would have been a hollow victory for us if we had lost to Merchants, but won the league.' Kai Tak yesterday defeated Centaurs by 118 runs at Sek Kong. Burge was in the thick of the action, scoring 77. Helped by Philip Lacompe (81) and Nigel Beattie (49), Kai Tak amassed 260 for seven in 33 overs. In reply, Centaurs were bowled out for 142 with Keith Reynolds taking four for 21 and Alan Zervos three for 39.