Captain Troy Mars of John Adams High School was undoubtedly the most dominant cricket batsman in the PSAL this season.
Players, coaches and announcers said that if Mars, who led the PSAL in runs (739) and had three century performances (117, 177 and 194 runs), heated up in the PSAL Cricket Championship on June 16, the Spartans would seize the title.
However, the Long Island City (LIC) Bulldogs had a Trojan horse and Troy fell.
Fast-bowler Redwanur Khan shattered the middle leg of Mars’ wicket in the seventh over with a seemingly hittable ball, which the standout Spartan whiffed, giving the undefeated Bulldogs (17-0) the momentum to overpower the Spartans, 158-119, and take their first crown at Baisley Park in Jamaica.
“I just bowled my regular ball. I put it on the line and I got his wicket,” said Khan, who won Best Bowler of the final for his two wickets, 13 run outing.
After taking Mars’ wicket, Khan celebrated by chest bumping a teammate on the pitch, because he thought it was a given that they would win.
“Our main target was Troy Mars, because he’s really good,” he said. “So we got him, and we thought we are going to win the game.”
And Khan’s predication held true. Following Mars, who was limited far below his 67-run average to just 18 runs, the Spartans (14-2) began falling quickly.
Vice captain Randall Wilson lost his wicket in the eight over, and Khan dropped his second wicket in the ninth over against Harmanveer Singh.
“It was very disappointing, because my whole team was depending on me and I disappointed them,” Mars said. “I just want to say sorry to my team.”
John Adams made it to the final game for the third time in five years, but once again the title eluded the Spartans.
The Bulldogs continued to attack relentlessly, tying up the Spartans’ batsmen until in the 20th over with the final delivery and mathematically assured victory, Bulldogs Captain Mustafa Mahnaz bowled out the 10th and final out.
“Everybody said to me, we need this wicket,” Mahnaz said. “We don’t want to win by the over; we want to win by the wicket. And I just looked at the stump and I bowled the ball.”
Last year the Bulldogs failed to capture the crown when they lost in the final against Brooklyn’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a super over, but this year LIC brought enough firepower for the job.
Mars won the coin toss, but allowed LIC to bat first. The Bulldogs powered a solid 158 runs, while only losing five batsmen.
Attaur Khan led the bulldogs with 33 runs, slamming 3 sixes and 1 four, and won the Best Batsman award. Redwanur Khan and Sajib Salam also added 25 runs apiece in the win.
“I was very confident about every single player,” said Bulldogs coach Dharmvir Gehlaut. “They were hungry for this championship; for them it’s meat. When you’re a hungry lion or tiger you don’t see what else is in the field you just go and grab your share.”