Victoria end long wait in style

A grand finish was how Victoria Sporting Club clinched their fourth Dhaka Premier League title yesterday, overturning aspirants Old DOHS by two wickets.
As the Victoria players, officials and supporters skirted the Fatullah Cricket Stadium’s boundary rope, Iqbal Abdulla took his sweet time in the final over to bring up the 239-run target after Old DOHS made 238-9 in 50 overs.
The Indian recruit hit off-spinner Nahidul Islam over cover off the fourth ball and as he ran towards the Victoria entourage, celebrations began as the curtain was drawn on the 2011-12 domestic season.
Victoria and Old DOHS were level on 22 points alongside Gazi Tank (who beat Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club) but taking the head-to-head calculations into account, Victoria’s hard-fought win made it two out of two against Old DOHS in the competition, and thus the championship. It was Victoria’s first trophy at this level since 2002-03 when they had won two on the trot. Way before, their first trophy in Dhaka’s top cricket league came in the 1975-76 season. History, however, was the last thing in the cricketers’ mind on a blisteringly hot day.
It was a day of run-outs, fumbles, erratic bowling lines and wrong decisions for Old DOHS; Victoria waited for the opposition to make a mistake and pounced on each of them.
They played how favourites should, dominating the early stages by putting pressure on the Old DOHS batsmen who had to take a cautious approach after losing their firestarter Ziaur Rahman to a run-out in the third over.
As if the mix-up wasn’t enough, another between Uday Kaul and Shuvagata Hom Chowdhury had the latter run out in the twelfth over. Their coach Khaled Mahmud would later call the run-outs the turning point of the game.
What kept Old DOHS going was Kaul who remained unfazed by the occasion. The left-hander from India kept on building the innings by picking the ones and twos at will, eventually adding 88 runs for the sixth wicket with Roelof van der Merwe, who added much needed zing to the innings in the span of an hour.
Kaul made 65 off 95 balls with the help of four boundaries before Saikat Ali took a splendid catch at the deep midwicket boundary, while van der Merwe hammered six sixes, five off Mosharraf Hossain, and two boundaries in his 56-ball 59. Mohammad Sharif struck two boundaries and a six in his 26-ball 33, but it was clear that the Victoria spinners — Abdulla, Shakib and Sharifullah — had more control as the score was kept below the 250-mark.
The openers held the key to provide the start as they approached a tricky target. Tamim Iqbal and Saikat Ali did just that. The pair racing to the team’s 50 in the eighth over, the left-handed national opener dominating the 84-run stand. He hammered 57 off 59 balls with the help of seven fours and a six while the right-hander hung around to provide balance.
Nabil Samad then triggered a mini-collapse, first removing Jahurul Islam with Nurul Hasan claming an excellent stumping. When the left-arm spinner had Shakib Al Hasan nicking one to the keeper in the 21st over, it was game on. Saikat however batted beyond his age and experience, adding 59 runs for the fourth wicket with Sabbir Rahman, who made a vital 40. He survived an easy stumping chance off skipper Faisal Hossain and batted even through cramps to deliver an excellent innings.
When Saikat was bowled by van der Merwe for 71 off 99 balls, Old DOHS had one foot in the door. It was quickly shut by the Sabbir-Soumya Sarkar 45-run stand for the fifth wicket, as it sucked the life out of the Old DOHS bowling attack.
It was slightly sad for Prime Bank, the financial backers of Old DOHS, but the third-placed finish should fire them up for another title assault next season.
For the others, the happier dressing-room, bonuses and goodwill had only just begun to flow.
OLD DOHS: 238-9 in 50 overs (Kaul 65, van der Merwe 59; Abdulla 2-42).
VICTORIA: 239-8 in 49.4 overs (Saikat 71, Tamim 59; Nabil 3-44, Nahidul 2-30).
Result: Victoria won by two wickets and become league champions.

-With The Daily Star input

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