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LIC captures cricket crown

LIC captures cricket crown
Photo by Caroll Alvarado
By Joseph Staszewski

There was an uneasy feeling on the Long Island City sideline, as a second straight city cricket title appeared to be slipping away.

The No. 4-seeded Bulldogs thought they were in control of their PSAL cricket city title match against No. 2 Hillcrest only to see the Hawks rally late to put themselves in position to steal the crown in their final turn at bat. Hillcrest needed seven runs on six pitches to win with Long Island City still in search of a 10th wicket to end the match.

“We felt like if we don’t take this wicket, we are going to lose this game,” Long Island City Coach Dharmvir Gehlaut said.

It didn’t take long for his team to make that happen, taking advantage of an over-aggressive play by Hillcrest’s Munthasir Islam. On the first pitch of the Hawks’ final turn, he got caught trying to sprint for an extra run on a ball hit directly at Jawwad Khan.

Khan threw the ball to Tufayul Ahmed. He broke the stump for the final wicket to end the match and give Long Island City a thrilling 136-130 win over Hillcrest at Baisley Pond Park in Jamaica Saturday.

“When my player threw the ball, I thought, ‘I have to put the ball through the stump,’ and I did it,” Ahmed said. “I was like, ‘I did it and we won the championship.’”

By beating top-seeded Bryant in the semifinals earlier in the day, the Bulldogs became the second team after John Adams to reach the final for a third straight year. Winning made them just the second program to take home consecutive crowns along with Newcomers.

“We were the defending champions last year, and I think no one can beat us,” said senior Attaur Khan, who was the bowler of the match. “We are united by teamwork. We are the best. We are the champions.”

Long Island City rode the sweet swing of junior Rejwanur Rahman, the team’s fourth batsman. He scored a team-high 47 runs and did not make an out. Salam Sajib, who earned most valuable player honors, added 22 runs and four wickets.

Hilcrest Coach Hunter Brett never loss confidence in his team, which was making its first appearance in the final. He said his group are traditionally slow starters and fast finishers.

“You are not going to find a team with any more heart than my team,” Brett said. “They never give up. Hillcrest never ever, ever, ever, ever gives up.”

A six-run swing from Mustafa Mohammed that sent the ball over the boundary gave Hillcrest new life late. Islam did his part, accounting for nine runs on three straight swings to give Hillcrest 129 runs. Brett had no problem with Islam going off the extra runs in an attempt to win and told him so as he collapsed to the floor when the game was over.

“I love his aggressiveness,” Brett said. “I love him.”

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