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MCL Final Match Review: Gemini Arabians conquer Leo Lions to become champions

(Photo Source: Twitter)
Gemini Arabians. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Gemini Arabians were crowned as the champion of the inaugural Masters Champions League. The champions beat Leo Lions by 16 runs in an exciting low scoring contest at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. The match had everything required to keep a cricket fan glued to the seat. Naved ul Hasan (4/9) bowled a magnificent spell of seam bowling and was the wrecker- in- chief for the Virender Sehwag-led side who were no less than invincible in the tournament.

Batting first, Gemini Arabians could only out up a functional total of 130/7 after 20 overs. The Arabians were never comfortable today facing the Fidel Edwards & Co. They lost Virender Sehwag early which hampered the run rate for the rest of the innings and could never really take off.

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The Arabians total was built by small contributions from the top order and the middle order. Sangakkara (30 from 26 balls) and Levi (21 from 29 balls) kept the runs coming but at a very lethargic pace. But, Scott Styris struck in the 9th over to put a brake on the partnership. Brad Hodge (14 from 9 balls) tried to accelerate but failed after he fell to West Indian quickie Fidel Edwards just after an over he came to the crease. A cluster of wickets fell as the innings was after Sanga’s was dismissed in the 15th over. However, Justin Kemp (32 from 29 balls) batted with a sturdy approach and remained unbeaten and took the Arabians towards a defendable total.

The uncomplicated target transformed into a complicated one after Kyle Mills and Graham Onions inflicted early blows to the Lions. It took Mills just three balls in the first over to get better of Neil Carter. Onions complimented Mills by snapping up Zimbabwean Brendan Taylor in the next over. It became three wickets in three overs after Mills unpicked another Lions batsman. James Franklin attempt to guide the ball past backward point failed after Levi grabbed a diving catch to dismiss him.

Hamish Marshall and Brian Lara then steadied the ship from thereon, keeping the Lions in contention of the title win. The pair weaved an unbeaten 75 runs partnership before Brian Lara discontinued batting. In the 10th over due to hamstring problems. This partnership was the turning point of the match for the batting team.

Marshall carried on without any hassle. The match looked to be sliding away into the favor of Lions. However, the flickering hopes of the Arabians were revived after ‘magician’ Saqlain Mushtaq provided the important breakthrough after he trapped the New Zealander leg before with a quicker one. The Arabians cheered while the Lions seemed to be unhappy with the umpire Steve Davis’ decision.

The tempo shifted into Arabians favor from here onwards. Just an over after Marshall departed, Chanderpaul pulled off a ripper at the boundary line to dismiss Styris. Murali pitched a slightly back of the length delivery which Styris pulled ferociously towards deep square leg. The ball seemed to be travelling for a boundary until Chanderpaul put a wonderful diving effort to give a massive setback to the Lions’ chase. The catch would have put his younger contemporaries to shame.

However, the main highlight of the match was yet to come in the following over. Naved ul Hasan took a stunning hattrick to puncture the chasing effort completely. He got Johan Botha and Heath Streak in succession. Brian Lara came out with a limp and was clean bowled.

The match was virtually over now with the Lions completely on the backfoot. Naved came back to bowl his final over of the spell and picked one more wicket. Robin Petersen (15 from 9 balls), from the other end was trying hard but Naved ul Hasan’s game changing spell had damaged the Lions ambition badly. The contest reached its conclusion after last wicket Edwards was run out in the final over. Lions, eventually, were bowled out for 114 in 19.3 overs.

Brief Scores:

Gemini Arabians: 130/7 in 20 overs (Justin Kemp 32*; Scott Styris 2/18)

Leo Lions: 114 all out in 19.3 overs (Hamish Marshall 46; Naved ul Hasan 4/9)

Man of the Match: Naved ul Hasan (Gemini Arabians)

Player of the Series: Kumar Sangakarra (Gemini Arabians)

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