Sharjah: Riding on unbeaten half-centuries from Saqlain Haider and Asif Mumtaz, Phoenix Medicine emerged as the new champions of the Sharjah Cricket Council’s 39th Bukhatir League A Division tournament at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
The oldest UAE cricket tournament, which is contested by the best domestic teams, once again produced electrifying contests, with Phoenix stopping all the formidable teams on their way to the final, where they outplayed Abu Dhabi Gymkhana by five wickets to lift the trophy for the first time.
Speaking to Gulf News, Iran Ansari, the proud coach of the Phoenix team, said: “We had missed reaching the final last year despite beating top teams as our team was participating in the Champions Trophy in Pakistan and had to give a walk-over to Eurocon Alubond in the semi-final. This year we made sure not to commit ourselves to any tournaments. By winning the prestigious Gulf Super Sixes title too this season, our players have proved to be in top form and I am proud of them.”
Electing to bat first, Gymkhana got off to a promising start. Openers Arfan Haider and Saqib Shah put on 72 runs, with Haider hitting 32 from 48 balls and Shah scoring 35 off 50 balls. Phoenix’s Mohsin Anwar and Mohammad Qasom put the breaks on Gymkhana, taking three wickets each and restricted them to 206 for 9 in 50 overs.
Chasing the target, Phoenix openers Fahad Ansari (25) and Hafiz Kaleem (13) put on 42 runs in just five overs. Though Jameel Aslam picked three wickets to put Phoenix on to the back foot, stylish left-handed wicketkeeper-batsman Saqlain Haider and right-handed Asif Mumtaz pulled the team out of trouble and steered them to victory in 45 overs.