Medina vs. Cairo
Week 7 started off with a short-handed Cairo team facing off against pre-season favourite, Medina, who also were missing several players. On this blistering hot day, which saw temperature go to the mid 30s, both teams were battling against not only each other but also mother nature. Just like the weather, Cairo started off hot and maintained the temperature throughout the game, scoring 3 or more runs in its first four innings, meanwhile Medina only managed 2 in the same time frame. That folks is a recipe to get mercied, which is what happened here, as Cairo slapped Medina 20-5.
Medina must ask itself how it failed to score in the first three innings. By achieving only 1 xbh the entire game, credit does go to Cairo, but also Medina must ask itself several questions. Is the batting lineup setup to achieve optimal results? Ismail Akhtar certainly doing all that he can by going 3/3 (he seems to have made adjustments and now the league is feeling his offensive wrath). However, the bottom only batted .250. The mediocre team performance should force GM Moh Kala to re-evaluate aspects of his team that need upgrading. According to the GM, no one is safe if a shakeup happens. While it's not the first time we have seen a mercy in this league, Medina now has looked shaky in its last couple games. The committee believes the team will figure out the recent challenges because of the leadership qualities that several of its players possess. With a couple bps or defensive practices, Medina is expected to come back strong. In the meantime, after seven weeks into the season, Medina finds itself in the middle of the pack, which is not where the BSL pundits predicted Medina would be.
On the other hand, Cairo gained a much needed victory, in convincing fashion. This is exactly what Cairo required as they looked excellent both offensively and defensively. First, offensively, Cairo may have the most dangerous 1-2-3 hitters. In this game Basser, Miqdad and reigning MVP, Ali went combined 12/14, which is amazing! Ali alone had 10 RBIs, thanks in large part to the aforementioned two players getting on base 90% of the time will do that. But credit also goes to Ali finding his power, and the league should take notice to that. Also, shout-out Hassaan Khan who had three hits and if he begins to get going then Cairo is looking like the dangerous team of 2018 all over again. While offensively they were clicking, Yasser Malik (who could not make the games due to work) must be proud of his team's defensive performance. Giving up only five runs will make Cairo brothers confident that they can regain the defensive form that propelled them to be so dominant last year.
- As per its GM, there were no pros
- Should not be down on themselves, as Cairo fielded its seven best players, in terms of average, and grabbed two good subs. As result, Cairo top batters had five to six plate appearances. Defensively, the right side of the field requires improvements. They were missing Hamid Malik, who is one of the best OFs in our league, so that caused a defensive gap.
- Offense: Solid consistent hitting as the team batted .650 percent, which is outstanding. Several stand-out batting performances. Miqdad is tearing the league apart with his hitting. Ali finding his swagger like it's 2018. Baseer may be the best lead-off hitter. Hassaan Khan beginning to find his groove.
- Defense: Allowed only one xbh all night long. Outstanding pitching performance by super utility man Jav Ahmed. When .875 percent of batters find themselves 0-1 in the count, it puts hitters in a difficult position, so kudos to Jav for hitting those first pitch strikes.
- Look to continue momentum from this game into its upcoming games. Opponents should take notice that Cairo is coming after a strong performance against a respectable foe like Medina.
Cairo vs. Damascus
Fresh off a dominating victory, Cairo looked poised to take on host Damascus. Though a tight game throughout, Damascus never looked back, leading through the whole game. This match saw 46 hits in total. This number can be attributed to two facts - 1. Cairo only had 3 in the OF, so Damascus had ample targets. 2. Cairo had an 8 man batting lineup, which resulted in 5 to 6 abs for some of our leagues top notch hitters.
While Cairo was missing 6 players in total, they were able to field their 8 best hitters, putting non-stop pressure on Damascus defense, as they had seven xbh, with one of them going outside the fence for a home run. Everyone had a hit, and all but one had multiple hits. When he returns, GM Yasser Malik has plenty to be optimistic about, as the team looks to be trending upwards. Notably, he brings defensive awareness, which seems to be where the team needs to get better at.
On the contrary, Damascus was full squad, twelve deep against Cairo. Batters knew they were not going to get more than three to four plate opportunities, so they had to make the most with what little they got. Notably, Akif Waheed did not record a single out, reaching on base four consecutive times. Imran Qureshi had his first HR of the season. Ahmad Ammad had 7 RBIs and 4 runs scored - he seems to be doing everything offensively possible. Shane Worthington continues to protect Ammad in the lineup as well.
- Team hitting, despite loss had more hits than opponent suggesting base runners were left on-base, so look to improve H/RISP
- The pitching change slowed down opponent, look to see Miqdad carry the momentum towards second half of season
- With this loss, they sit tied with two other teams, having earned 4 points out of five games. Having given up the most runs in the league, Cairo needs to identify who its main defensive players are and where they will be positioned as we enter the second half of the season
- Team hitting as nine players had multiple hit games. Good mix of power, walks, xbh and singles
- Base running, on several plays, players could have taken an extra base, but chose not to, therefore the runners are risk averse
- Outfield Infield communication gap resulting in runners taking extra bases.
Istanbul vs. Damascus
The last game of the night featured Istanbul visiting Damascus. This marked the second time these two teams have met, with Damascus winning the first battle. In this rematch, Damascus once again came out as the victors topping Istanbul by a score of 14-2. This was a fiesty matchup, as players from both sides were chirping one another, testing the boundaries of what is considered brotherhood. The league encourages fun trash talking, but if teams begins to get emotional, which can lead to anger, then we will have to issue warnings to both teams and players involved.
Back to the game - Istanbul, despite losing this one, moved up in the standings, due to run difference. As result, they are 3rd place, which is within striking distance to overtake Cordoba or Damascus. However, Istanbul must look within to figure out some internal challenges that is preventing them from taking the leap from mid-tier to top-tier. Offensively, two runs will never win you any games in BSL Nights. Observers pointed out that Istanbul either goes big or goes home, meaning either a Home Run or an out. While we are all infactuated with the long-ball, Istanbul would fare much better if it strings together base hits rather than look for the big hit. Moreover, the batters seem to be patient as they managed to get three walks from a pitcher that usually does not let up more than one per game. While we encourage being patient, we suggest Istanbul look to swing the bats to get their confidence higher. On the other hand, defensively Istanbul had few head scratching errors, especially in the OF with soft fly balls. If they want to go far in this league, they should find help in the OF either through player development or trade.
After an impressive performance against Istanbul, Damascus is sitting solely in second place. The team seems to have figured out its batting lineup as the hits are spread out evenly, though the bottom of the lineup will need to go better than 1/8 in future games. However, when the top performs this way, then it reduces the pressure off the bottom. Ahmad Ammad is definitely strengthing his case for MVP, carrying the team offensively by himself. We don't think anyone one man is more important to his team than Ammad is to Damascus. Defensively, Damascus now has allowed league low in Runs scored against, though we would argue that the team has yet to be tested because they have not faced off against the best teams in the league. Next week Damascus is on a bye and then will return to face Lahore in Week 9.
- Despite only getting two runs, they may have the most powerful team in the league as six guys legitimately can hit for the long-ball
- Decent pitching performance by Fuzzy, who is establishing himself as a great pitcher/batter in Nights
- Ahmed Qureshi had 100% on-base percentage
- Spread the power/hitting throughout the lineup. The team seems top heavy and could use a boost towards its bottom half.
- Missing their GM, so getting back Zain M should bring not only more hitting but also composure to the squad
- Superior pitching performance again by Tanseer K. Allowing only two runs by way of 7 hits is as good as it gets.
- Ahmad Ammad, 8 RBIs and 3 Hrs, one of the greatest individual performances in one game in BSL history. Tanseer K also went 3/3
- Damascus defense still making errors, three in this game, but allowed only one XBH, which is phenomenal
- Winning both games of a double header may mean confidence is at an all-time high. It is important to stay grounded, given that Damascus has yet to face off against either Medina or Cordoba. So the team is winning against teams it should beat, but the real test remains, and we hope that Damascus comes out strong against the top teams in our league