Cairo Vs. Istanbul
The early game to kick off week 3 featured Cairo vs Istanbul. Cairo was coming off a close but convincing victory against team Lahore while Istanbul was riding the momentum from week 2 in which they displayed an offensive outburst against Medina and ran away with a one run walk-off victory. Istanbul has a strong group of players and can catch fire in a hurry, so Cairo was coming into this game on their heels for what was considered a key matchup.
As the game began, Cairo came out firing and pumped out 6 runs in the top of the first inning. Lead off man Yasser Malik reached third base while Half Sohail - seemingly unphased by the pressure of being moved up into the second spot - ripped a liner to centre field. First overall pick Miqdad Jaffer followed up with a line drive of his own before Ali Chaudhry slapped a three-run home run- his first of the season - to get the action going. Knowing what Istanbul was capable of offensively given their performance in week 2, Cairo didn’t ease up in the second inning, scoring 7 runs and bringing the lead to 13-2 after two frames! Cairo was able to circle through their lineup fast enough for Ali Chaudhry to smack another shot to deep left field, which cleared the fence for another three-run shot.
Istanbul showed some signs of fight with Jav Ahmed hitting a triple and Imran Choudhry going for a double. Unfortunately however, Istanbul couldn’t keep the bats going as neither of them would cross the plate. Waseem Kala and Naveed Yousaf would bat perfect in the game but would only combine for one RBI and would never cross the plate for any runs. Zaki Bhatti was unable to keep his hit streak alive going 0/2 with 0 RBIs - just one week after a 7 RBI game. Baseer Yaseen continued to contribute for Istanbul hitting a double into the gap for one of only four Istanbul extra base hits. It is obvious that Istanbul has one of the most potent offences in the league, but were perhaps unprepared for a suffocating Cairo defence.
After surrendering only 5 runs in week 2, Cairo only surrendered a total of three runs to Istanbul on 10 hits, making quick work of them as the game lasted only 5.5 innings. The mercy rule was eventually called as Cairo rolled to a 21-3 victory. The win was highlighted by 3 home runs by Cairo shortstop and AGM Ali Chaudhry, each of them being three run shots for a total of 9 RBIs! Meanwhile, Cairo looked defensively sound once again, committing zero errors throughout the game. Tamour Sheikh finally got his bat going, joining Abdullah Akhter who both went 2/3 for the game. Baseball convert Imran Haq continues to find ways to get on base while he works out his swing mechanics, reaching on an error as well as on a fielder’s choice; however, he would cross the plate both times to score runs. Saad Hasnain crushed two base hits in the last spot, which was key in turning over the Cairo lineup.
Some positive news for Istanbul is that Pitcher Riyad Ramjaun has improved his accuracy on the mound, throwing 64 strikes and 24 balls in just 5 innings despite the crushing defeat. Meanwhile, Zia “Doc” Beg picked up the win to go along with 2 strikeouts and 39 strikes.
Some key players from this game made headlines on the stat page after week 3 also, with Istanbul Pitcher Riyad Ramjaun taking the lead for strikeouts, topping all league pitchers with 7. Meanwhile, Cairo Pitcher Zia Beg lowered his ERA to 4.8 and creeps closely behind Riyad with 6 strikeouts. Zain Malik leads the league in batting average at 0.875 as well as and on base percentage of 0.900. Ali Chaudhry takes over the home run and RBI lead with 3 and 9, respectively, catching up to the pack in a single game’s work.
Despite the lopsided score, these are clearly two talented teams that are sure to provide further entertainment value the next time they meet.
Note: The 8:00 pm and 9:30 pm games were rained out. Stay tuned for further details regarding these games.