Cordoba Vs. Lahore
Cordoba came into their week two matchup looking for their first win of the season after a disappointing couple of losses in week 1 against Medina and Cairo. Meanwhile, Lahore was coming off a hot week 1 start and was looking to remain undefeated in the first game of their week 2 doubleheader.
Cordoba started the game out strong, scoring three runs in the top of the first inning which was perhaps a sign of good things to come. Unfortunately, however, Cordoba failed to score more than two runs in an inning for the remainder of the game. Lahore meanwhile were able to capitalize on a five run fourth inning which would ultimately be the difference maker in this tight-knit affair.
For Cordoba it was the usual suspect Ahmad Ammad cashing in a home run for the team. Uncharacteristically, Yousaf Chaudhry batted a dismal 0/3 for the game and was part of the reason Ahmad’s home run was a solo shot. Akif Waheed picked up the slack for his team crushing his first home run of the season and picking up three RBIs. This is where the good news ends for Cordoba, however, as the two home runs from Ahmad and Akif were the only extra base hits for the team all game.
Meanwhile, Lahore cashed in their runs with five extra base hits, including a home run for Salim Jaichi who tallied three RBIs and earned the first star of the game. Khizer Channa had two doubles and a triple for the game, putting up a perfect batting line along with two RBIs.
Despite how close the score was in this game on paper it was not much of a pitching duel. Although both Hamza Waheed and Fuzail Thakur threw impressive games, they only combined for three strikeouts, and both threw under 50 strikes for the game. Fuzail kept his ERA under 10, while Hamza Waheed made an improvement from week one.
Lahore Vs. Cairo
Lahore stepped onto the field for game two of their double header after an assuring win against a potent, but underachieving, Cordoba team. Lahore looked to stay undefeated against Cairo who was coming off big win of their own against Cordoba in week 1.
Behind the scenes there was much hype surrounding this game as there were pre-game rumours swirling about who the best defensive team in the league was, with Lahore’s name popping up in several BSL chat rooms. The hype was short-lived, however, as Cairo came out red hot on the defensive side of the ball. Neal Irfan made three spectacular backhand catches on hard hit balls to the warning track, while Imran Haq made an impressive foul-tip catch behind the plate. Ali Chaudhry was up to his usual tricks at shortstop, showcasing his range as well as his throwing accuracy. For the second week in a row Cairo made two impressive relay plays from the outfield to shortstop to home to gun down any potentially scoring runs.
Lahore didn’t have a poor defensive game, per se, but some costly misreads on Cairo batters cost them. With the bases juiced, Neal Irfan crushed a bases clearing triple in the fourth inning over the head of the Lahore left fielder. Meanwhile, Aftab Sheikh mishandled a few hard hit balls at short, perhaps fatigued on the back end of the double header.
Shamil Khadaroo and Amir Khalil continued to demonstrate why they were Lahore’s first two picks in the draft, combining to bat 5/7 with a couple of RBIs (which were hard to come by in this game). Khuram and Khizer Channa combined to bat 6/7 and brought in three RBIs. Unfortunately, Lahore will need more firepower from the bottom of their lineup in order to score more than 5 runs in a game. Meanwhile, Cairo seems to have been living off the bottom of their lineup offensively so far, with Imran Haq batting 2/3 and and Harris Shahzad picking up a walk and a hit in the game.
Zia Beg played a key role in Cairo’s week 2 win. The “Doc” was definitely in as he racked up 4 strikeouts on 75 strikes while only allowing two earned runs. Most impressively, Cairo shut down Lahore with zero runs in 5 out of 7 innings played on route to staying undefeated this season.
Medina Vs. Istanbul
The night cap of week 2 featured the showcase game of the night (one game is taped for YouTube each week), and it sure didn’t disappoint. Istanbul was hungry for their first win after a disappointing loss in week 1. Meanwhile, Medina was looking to stay undefeated behind some hot hitting and consistent pitching.
Right out of the game Istanbul looked like a completely different team than we saw in week 1, cashing in four runs in the first inning. Medina scored five runs of their own before scoring another two in the second frame. Going into the bottom of the third inning Istanbul was down 7-4 but caught fire with a 7 run inning to take the lead 11-7. Even more impressively, Medina answered back with back-to-back 7 run innings in the fourth and fifth, opening up a 21-16 lead going into the bottom of the final inning. If this game wasn’t exciting enough already, Istanbul pulled off an improbable and gutsy comeback, scoring six runs (many of them on two outs) to secure a 22-21 walk-off victory!
Isntanbul looked like a team that refused to lose on this night, scoring 22 runs on 23 hits and coming into form as more of the team they were expected to be, and not the team we all saw in week 1. Hamid Malik batted a perfect 4/4 including a home run and four RBIs. Meanwhile, Zaki Bhatti raked in six RBIs of his own while going 3/4 at the dish. GM Zain Malik batted a perfect 4/4 as well, including a triple. Meanwhile for Medina, Hassan Chaudhry continued his hot start batting a perfect 5/5 including three doubles. Umair Wasim slapped home two home runs while batting 3/4 and cashing in seven RBIs for Medina!
This game had way too much offensive firepower from both ends, but according to GM Mohamed Kala the key defensive talking point was the play of shortstop Hassan Chaudhry. Despite the week 2 loss, there are whispers that Hassan may be making a case for himself at shortstop while older brother and Cairo AGM Ali Chaudhry continues his impressive play as well. Prior to the game and during warm ups, Hassan Chaudhry claimed that he had a “better arm” than Ali despite seeing the clinic his older brother put on in the game preceding. It is unclear if this duel spilt over into their home; however, Cairo GM Yasser Malik was quick to put friendships aside when comparing his shortstop to the likes of long time friend Hassan.