Named after the capital city of early Islam and the Caliphate, team Medina enters the inaugural season of BSL Nights as the most experienced and, some would argue (on paper at least), the strongest team in the league. After being dismissed as a GM candidate by the honchos running the BSL Sunday league, Mohamed Kala agreed to take the job as GM of Medina with the ultimate goal of winning a Championship and to prove his BSL detractors wrong. Kala showed the rest of the league he wasn't playing around when he signed BSL Sunday league master tactician and former teammate Hassan Chaudhry as the assistant GM for Medina. After orchestrating the Chaudhry coup, refusing to trade him to team Cairo, managed by Chaudhry's best friend, and being called a snake by Cairo's GM, Kala sent out a memo advising other league executives to call him "Kala Mamba" for the pain he was going to cause teams in BSL Nights. To make matters worse for the league, the team had the opportunity to further strengthen the squad by landing the third overall pick in the draft.
Draft Analysis: Medina stacked up on BSL Sunday league veterans during the first few rounds of the draft, highlighted by the selections of Ismail Akhter, Tanseer Khawaja and Ahmed Hussain. Medina will rely on its experienced players to mentor some of the new, unknown talent on the team. In the middle rounds, Medina took a risk by not drafting BSL Sunday league players and gambling on a shortstop, Safwan Khan, who Kala scouted extensively during the tryouts. Rounding out the remainder of the draft, Medina selected highly athletic, dual sport athletes to provide the team with positional depth and athleticism. The team also drafted 16 year old infield prodigy, Yousuf Hoda, who, with mentorship, Medina management believe has the potential to turn into an all-star in BSL Nights.
Strengths/Weaknesses: Medina will rely on the team's experience and balanced roster as the keys to success. With positional depth in both the infield and the outfield, the team has options to cover any defensive weaknesses. In addition, they possess one of the best pitchers in BSL Nights in Tanseer Khawaja, who has a habit of striking out hitters with his trickery. Although a well balanced team, Medina (on paper at least) lacks the offensive power to go blow-for-blow with some of the power hitting teams in the league. Although they have several players who will hit for average, their power hitting will ultimately come from Ismail Akhter.
X Factors: Ahmad Hussain is healthier and looks to have recovered from his shoulder injury in the BSL Sunday league last year. However, prior to his injury, Hussain was consistent with both bat and glove. If Hussain has fully healed, it could become real ugly for team's facing Medina. Abdu "The Shark" Sharkawy is a unique player for team Medina. Although he offers lightening quick speed and a safe glove in the infield and outfield, if The Shark is able to light things up with the bat this season (after 15 years out of the game) his speed on the base paths would be huge for team Medina.
Rumors: It is no secret that Kala covets the power bat of his cousin, Waseem Kala, to turn Medina into a force to be reckoned with. Despite repeated overtures by Istanbul offering Waseem to Medina for Ahmad Hussain and Hammad Khan, Kala did not pull the trigger because he could not agree to a second player. Although things have cooled on the trade front for team Medina, WhatsApp group chats continue to blow up linking Waseem to Medina in trade rumours. Similar rumours continue to spread at Taraweeh.
GM Yousaf Chaudhry’s thoughts on team Medina: "Mohamed Kala got extremely lucky as one of the best players in the draft, Ismail Akhtar fell into his lap. He was able to start the draft with a bang, drafting Tanseer (top pitcher), Ahmad Hussain and Safwan Khan. With Hassan Chaudhry as his Asst GM, team Medina has the best pitcher and outfield in the league. Although the draft started out to be promising, the addition of several new recruits may prove to be teams Achilles heel. With the team’s batting highly reliant upon Ismail Akhtar and new talent, their success is at risk. Adding fuel to the fire Hasan Chaudhry is expected to miss several weeks of playtime. Team Medina is looking to add the much needed batting power of Waseem Kala via trade that will make them a force to be reckoned with. Rumours of trades are echoing at every Tarawih."
Team Lahore hopes to live up to its namesake city which has a historic Islamic history dating back to the 1100s. GM Aftab Sheikh had a goal of putting together his ‘Rexdale’ team which made its debut during the BSL Charity Tournament back in August 2017, however will this teams fate meet the same underwhelming end? His Assistant GM Salim Jaichi played one season in BSL Sunday and hopes to build on his offensive prowess.
Draft Analysis: GM Aftab continued with well known picks from BSL Sunday including Amir Khalil and Asad Moten. Lahore pulled off a blockbuster trade when GM Yasser from Team Cairo unexpectedly took Shamil Khadaroo in the 2nd round. Lahore had a panic attack fearing a key ingredient would be missing and then traded rookie prospect Abdullah Akhter in return of the same.
Strengths weakness: The key strengthens for Team Lahore will their ability to be a cohesive team, which Aftab believes to be the best in the league. Majority of the picks are close friends so making in-game adjustments will be much easier. With several gold gloves on the team there defensive will likely be the best in the league. A key area of opportunity will be their offensive towards the bottom half of the line up. As well, there early pitching controversy seems to have cleared up but still remains a question mark with Fuzail taking the mound.
X Factor: The x-factor for Team Lahore will be their defense. In addition to the gold glove of GM Aftab, they have an outfield to be reckoned with. Asad Moten, Khuram Channa and Shamil Khadaroo round out key positions. Also new additions to BSL Omar, Mohammad and Bilal are definite x-factors in a well balanced Lahore squad.
Rumors: GM Aftab was active on draft day with securing a key piece of Team Lahore, Shamil Khadaroo. There was a serious offer in a 3 way trade with Istanbul and Medina nothing materialized in the end. Also, there are whispers that aGM Salim will be sporting a Small Sized number 10 jersey in hopes of bringing increased attention to his supposed masculine body. In other news, Lahore GM Aftab has already made championship dinner reservations at Lahore Tikkah House (LTH), where Aftab and Salman Hoda will be footing the bill for any BSLer that would like to attend.
GM Mohamed Kala’s thoughts on team Lahore: “Aftab drafted a team of his boys from Rexdale. I didn't know we allowed gangsters in the BSL? Although Lahore has some quality players, the new guys will have to come through consistently in order for Lahore to be competitive. I'm still perplexed by Aftab's ill advised decision to overpay by trading Abdullah Akhtar to Cairo in a trade for Shamil Khadaroo especially when Shamil will be missing numerous games and could have been had for less. It has also come to my attention there is a pitching controversy in Lahore. Aftab has three capable pitchers in Amir Khalil, Fuzail Thakur and the pitching machine, and it'll be interesting to see which one he chooses when Medina faces Lahore in week 3. I do, however, have to credit him for the shrewd picks of Asad Moten and Khizer Channa who have the potential to deliver clutch hits. Despite drafting three catchers (on paper at least) he was still able to draft a decent roster. Overall, I feel his team has several defensive weaknesses and no real depth in the event a player misses significant games, but that is not my concern. I still look forward to delivering a whooping when Medina plays Lahore in week 3.”