After the three days of frustration of no play at the ECL due to extreme weather conditions, Thursday saw Finals week finally start with a reduced format of five overs a game, and Pak-I-Care opening the proceedings against the Swedish champions Alby Zalmi.
Batting first the Swedes scored 55 for 5 off their five overs. Azam Khalil hit 26 off ten balls to see Zalmi to the competitive total. With bowlers allowed only one over each it was Kamran who set the tone with just two runs off his over, the first of the Swedish innings.
His economical six balls proved crucial to his team, as the Spaniards overtook the required total on the last ball of the match. Opener Mohammad Babar was at the crease for all five overs, scoring 25 off just 11 deliveries, which included a boundary off the final delivery.
With a five wicket victory under their belt, they next faced the English champions Tunbridge Wells. It was another last ball thriller that Pak-I-Care just edged. Restricting the team from Kent to 47 for 3 off their five overs, they got off to the worst possible start, reeling at 0 for 2 after eight balls.
The depth of the Pak-I-Care batting has helped them out more than once in this tournament and once again they found a way to win a match that they looked to have little chance of winning. Muhammad Ihsan was the saviour this time, hitting 18 off just seven balls before getting out with the scores tied and one ball to face. Sikander Ali got a leg bye off the final delivery to gave Pak-I-Care a five wicket victory.
Brescia of Italy were Pak-I-Care’s next opponents. They restricted the hosts to 48 for 8 and then chased down the low score in clinical fashion with eight balls and eight wickets to spare.
The final match of the day for the team from Badalona was a rematch with the Swedish side Alby Zalmi. Pak-I-Care batted first and posted 66 for seven with Babar, Ihsan and Sikander Ali all reaching double figures. In reply the team from Sweden started well and were 43 for 1 off three overs.
The wicket of Shahad Ali who smashed 37 off just 14 balls, swung the game back in favour for the hosts. Requiring 12 from the last over, it was left to Mohtashim to try and hold his nerve and bowl it. A couple of dot balls, a couple of twos and a streaky boundary left the equation for Alby, needing to score four off the last ball. Mohtashim held his nerve to take a wicket and give Pak-I-Care a three run victory.
Tomorrow Pask-I-Care have a tough day on paper with match ups against Tunbridge Wells and Brescia and two games against the Irish champions Brigade. After day one they will be content with the look of the league table, but there is still a lot of work to do tomorrow to ensure a place in Saturday’s showpiece finals day.