A five wicket haul from Rokan Arafat Mashuk and another superb batting display from Junaed Rahman Tanin were the turning points as Barking & Dagenham outfit Scintilla CC wrapped up the season by lifting the Essex County Cricket League Cup.
The 2017 Essex County Cricket League season closed at Loughton Cricket Club on Saturday, where Scintilla and Aztecs played out a thriller for the traditional season-ending finale.
Scintilla won the toss at the start of play. Captain Adil Ejaz Bhatti considered the dry sunny conditions with an almost perfect batting wicket and opted to bat first. The decision paid immediate dividends as Mohammed Badrul Alam Chowdhury (Bappy) and Ashraful Islam struck up an 83 run partnership to lay down the gauntlet. Both the wickets of the openers were claimed by SN Naqi. Bhatti scored 28 from 17 balls with one mammoth six flying out of the ground and breaking a car window. Nevertheless the game continued (while an annoyed local resident discussed the damage with officials).
Scintilla upped a gear after Ishaq Shawn was dismissed by U Raja on 13, who also bowled Juwel Roy (15), but Junaed Rahman Tanin (Nanna) added a spectacular 62 off 54 balls before being bowled by SN Naqi. Mashuk added a useful 19 before Rishad Haque, Yesin Arafat, Ayaz Karim and Rifat Mahmud finished off the remaining overs at the crease to leave Scintilla on 263.
With rain now affecting play, the run chase was reduced to 231 in 35 overs. After tea, Usman Raja racked up a quick fire 38 with six 4s and a huge 6 – but a moment of indecision proved fatal as the Aztecs star lost concentration and Scintilla claimed the prize scalp. The opener was caught by Bappy off the bowling of Ishaq Shawn.
The dismissal of Raja was crucial, and soon after Islam claimed two magnificent catches at cover from balls by Mashuk for the dismissals of S Singh and Happy Singh.
Juwel Roy was not to be outdone, and the Scintillian took another outstanding catch to save a certain six but, more importantly, send N Kumar back to the clubhouse.
Shawn’s economical bowling reduced the run rate and in between Tanin took the wicket of A Ali. The wicket of SAN Naqi was claimed by Bappy for 4, and with Dhaliwal on 22 and Aztecs requiring 18 from 10 balls a last gasp rearguard action saw Bhatti throw the ball 20 yards to Mashuk at the stumps. It seemed like an eternity as the accomplished all-rounder paused to survey the field before making no mistake to run out SN Naqi and hand Scintilla the game.
Five wickets and the vital at-the-death run out saw Mashuk earn the man of the match award. Essex County Cricket League Chair Nadim Ishaq handed the trophy to Bhatti as jubilant celebrations began.
After the win Club Captain Ahmed Choudhury said, “What a performance today from start to finish! Every single player showed great faith and energy to make sure we finished as winners. We may have no home, no training, no facilities – but we have an unwavering addiction to winning. I’m so proud of my team. Thank you to our sponsors Apex Mortgage Advice, Apex Accountants, East End Logistics and Right Call. Your fantastic support drives us.”
An ecstatic Scintilla captain Bhatti analysed the final, “Every man today gave 100%. Whether it was with the bat or the ball we were hungry, energetic and most importantly we were patient throughout. The game teetered from us being in a winning position to the scales tipping towards Aztecs. But we held our nerve and I’m honoured to join a list of captains who have delivered silverware for this special club.”
Club Chair Emdad Rahman concluded, “It’s been an amazing day for us on the field. No matter how many times we do it you can’t beat the feeling that comes with winning. The boys were outstanding throughout and even when we were under pressure at points in the game I had faith that the big game abilities of my team would shine through. It was nerve racking but we are all smiling now.
“Our journey this campaign began on 1st May 2017 where a makeshift Scintilla side beat Shane Moss at Springfield Park, Hackney. Ahmed Choudhury and I were in deep discussion after getting a soaking and being exposed to the harsh cold. We were shivering like we were experiencing extreme spasms. We watched Adil Bhatti direct operations that day and decided he was a natural fit for the role. Four months since that unforgettable afternoon, he has led us to success. I’d say it was a choice well made.”
The ECCL finishes with success for Barking & Dagenham as both teams completed a league and cup double for the borough.