Although this outcome was a little predictable, it's bringing flashbacks of 2014 where the Merchant brothers battled it out for the title. This time it's Junior Merchant in the running, facing his Badshah Bhai on the mound. The first fan question is what these guys grew up eating... Because the cup is going to a Merchant home for the third year in a row. We might as well name the league MSL. While we try and figure out what Auntie Merchant is cooking in the kitchen...
Here's what the fans are looking forward to in this year's matchup...
Mamluks vs Mughals
The green machine vs the badshahs in blue
Young blood vs Mature minds
Rizvan's nonstop commentary on the mound vs Zahid's fierce stare down
A batting order that goes in a loop with no "weak link" vs boys in blue who know how to keep chipping away
Jibran that reminds us of art in action vs Pasha's single handed rock wall at short.
A team that exudes confidence vs unmatched chemistry on and off the field
The traditional grand buffet in the dug out vs energy drinks to keep up
Those crisp white softball pants that never seem to get dirty vs old Mughals jerseys that are getting frayed at the edges
The kid's club vs uncle oldies
It's true that some of the Mughals players were already playing league ball when the Mamluks were still in diapers.... But if baby blue can keep up with the green machine, it can make for an interesting game. Our sources tell us that the Badshahs have a few tricks up their sleeves and are ready to give the Mamluks a taste of their previous wit that won them the game last time.
For those of you still licking your wounds from getting the BSL axe this year, come and watch as the men who brought you down, battle it out for the champion title. As always... You can count on the fans to to be there loud and proud.
In the beginning of the season, the Ayyubids looked like they were going to be just fine, with Umair Jabbar playing out of his mind to early MVP chants and leading his team to glory, while big bats like Zain Khilji and Ahmad Ammad filled admirably to keep the runs coming on. The Seljuqs on the other hand looked awful; after experimenting with A R on the mound that spelled disaster, then resorted to Taha Iqbal pitching and it led to them playing a whole lot better. Today we find both sides facing off in a playoff matchup that’s bound to be one heck of a display, and if this wildcard game is anything like the regular season games, we’re in for a treat.
The most recent matchup between these two was a barnburner, with the final score being 22-19 for the Seljuqs AFTER FIVE INNINGS. That scoreline broke all sorts of records in the League, most notably the biggest combined run total in BSL History. It was a homerun fest with the Seljuqs especially capitalizing on debut pitcher Zain Khilji (who, oddly enough, was the GM for the Seljuqs last year) not being able to find the plate. The Ayyubids will feel a LOT more confident in their chances this time with ace Ali Jabbar back on the mound, allowing Khilji to move back to SS where he’s played admirably.
The key for the Ayyubids will be avoiding momentum going in favour of the Angry Birds. A team with tons of emotion, this group gets hype when the bats wake up, and when they are feeling it, it’s tough to put out that fire. The key for the Seljuqs will be forcing the united Ayyubids front to play as individuals. The Ayyubids play best when they are on as a unit – notably with their 15-2 dismantling of the Ottomans in the final week of the season with everyone chipping in. However, if the Seljuqs can frustrate their opposition and lead big bats like Umair Jabbar, Ahmad Ammad, and Hasan Afzal to try to be heroes, it could spell success for the Reds.
It’s tough to predict who will come out on top of this one. If the Ayyubids keep playing small ball and chip away at the Seljuqs, it could spell trouble. On the other hand, when the Seljuqs get hot at the plate, there’s virtually no stopping them. What we do know is that this one is going to be an onslaught by both sides – let’s hope that these two don’t exhaust themselves against one another before their big date with the Mamluks in the semis
The Mamluks sweeped both the Ayyubids and the Seljuqs in the regular season and are content with their potential matchups in the semis. On that thought, the Mamluks sweep everyone, so doesn’t matter, but the playoffs are a whole different league. The Ayyubids did put up a rally against the Mamluks in both season games in which the Mamluks had to release the big guns, but fended off the Seljuqs quite well. They would prefer to play the eagles vs ancient replica of Umer Jabbar's (Ayyubids), but both matchups shouldn’t trouble the league bests. Regardless, sleeping on any opponent now could turn them into bird food or fallen soldiers.
The navies come into their third wild card game in a row looking to break through this year. They ended the regular season on a sour note with a humiliating defeat but GM Hashim Ghazi is hoping that is enough to light a fire under this experienced group. They have two of the league’s best players in Rehan Ahmad and Shaheen Limbada but nobody else in the lineup has lit the league on fire. Shoaib Bhatti has been the only extra base hitter outside of their two superstars and the Turks will need more substance from Shoaib Gaya and Zain Fancy if they are going to score enough runs. You can bet teams won’t let Rehan or Shaheen beat them so some of the other guys will have to step up in a do or die game. It will be interesting to see the Ottomans batting lineup as they have been tinkering with it all season long. We will also have to wait and see who pitches on Saturday. We would expect A K would get the call for the big game but they gave Hamza Hussain the ball in other crucial games so nothing is certain. A K has had a great comeback year and we know he has the nerves to stay cool in pressure situations based on his play in BISL. Pitching this weekend will be a true test whether he is an ace in this league. The Ottomans have experience in the post season and should know what is needed to win. They will be facing a wily veteran pitcher from the Sultans so they will need to be at their best. The Ottomans are definitely the favourites going into this game but they will have to play much better ball to get the job done.
The stallions season has been a roller coaster ride for their players and their fans. They went into the Ramadan break on a high after two huge wins and into the top 4. That lasted only till their first games after the break where they lost two heartbreakers to drop all the way down to 6th. The Stallions won a do or die game against the Abbasids to get into the second season but no one knows what to expect with this bunch coming into this weekend. GM Amir Khalil drafted this team to reunite the 2013 squad that was 2 outs away from the finals. They brought back Noor Sheikh, Ahmad Ramadan, veteran Tanseer Khawaja and labelled their team chat Sultans Redemption. While they have gotten mediocre seasons from power bats Suhail Taji and W K, Shamil Khadaroo has stepped up recently to provide an offensive spark to the bottom order. Zain Malik is one of the most improved players this year and has been given a big task to play the hot corner (3rd base). Which defensive Sultans team will show up? They are amongst the league leaders in errors per game and face a team that commits one of the least. GM Amir Khalil has tried to get his infield to minimize the errors and they seem to be turning the corner but how will they fare in a pressure filled game. They have nothing to worry about on the mound with Tanseer Khawaja leading the team but he will need help behind him to keep the Ottoman bats under control. The Sultans have their chance at redemption, will they be able to seize the opportunity? We will find out Saturday afternoon.
The 2nd Semifinal will see the Mughals suit up against the winner between the Ottomans vs. Sultans in a matchup the baby blue will want to see the navy blue lose. It’s obvious to see why as the regular season indicates a split in their games against the Ottomans and sweep against the Sultans, but the loss came early in the season when the team was finding their rhythm. The Mughals have plenty of momentum going into this weekend, but a slight change in direction could throw them off their game and road to the finals.
It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for – the playoffs are finally here. All six teams possess what it takes to be champions, but only two will have a shot at claiming the throne by the end of day Saturday. We will have a quick write-up posted when it’s all said and done Saturday featuring a short Finals preview, but until then, we inch closer to the question that’s been on our minds all season – who will reign?
Sultans v Mamluks: TheThe Sultans were looking to find their bats before the playoffs while the Mamluks were looking to keep their hot bats going. The Sultans promoted their bottom order to the top of the order while the Mamluks kept things the same as they jumped out to a 13-0 lead. The Sultans would finally rally for some runs late in the game but didn't have the firepower to come back. Hassan Chaudhry continued his remarkable season going 3-3 to claim the batting title.
Final Score: Sultans - 7, Mamluks - 17 Star of the Game - Hassan Chaudhry
Final Score: Ottomans - 2, Ayyubids - 15 Star of the Game - Ali Jabbar
Final Score: Abbasids - 9, Mughals- 20 Stars of the Game - Mohammed Ali Pasha
We have reached the end of the regular season, and for the first time in BSL history, it comes with little to no drama. All the playoff matchups are locked in as teams look to play for momentum heading onto the big stage next weekend. Here's what is on and popping in the final installment of the regular season rumours for 2016.
Sultans vs Mamluks - 4:00PM BW1
The Sultans have been the warhorses at BSL, just as their franchise logo suggests. They have come together with all the talent at their disposal to put in performances that have forced other teams to get dirty for their wins. Since the Ramadan break, the Sultans recorded 3 losses and 1 win but kept a differential of -5 which included a matchup against the high flying Mughals. The Stallions have managed to stay in games and position themselves to win, but have lacked that clutch hit or game saving play, though they have definitely impressed more than their record shows. We didn't forget the upset win over Ottomans, who they will meet in the post-season to prove they can do it again. But what about Tanseer "Robocop" Khawaja. Somebody check the brand of his battery and stock up because this guy is still on par with players in their prime. It seems he's got even better on mound and has start adding homers (4) to his BSL profile which critics would have never predicted, his value continuously rises. Shamil Khadaroo has also impressed in his rookie season and has contributed greatly to the squad's success (in making post-season). The Sultans close out the regular season against the league best Mamluks, which will give them a good run for when it will matter in the playoffs.
The great Mamluks met their fate last weekend which put an end to their 100% season and gave doubts to critics who already crowned them as champions. It’s clear that the team had a below par performance on paper, but it was raining homeruns there at Birchwood 2. The Green Machine put it over too many times and were punished by the homerun differential killing their momentum every inning. The post-season will in its entirety be played on Birchwood 1 which takes away from what happened last Sunday – the Mamluks are still the Mamluks and are still the favorites by far. Shahzad Ahmed and Omer Chaudhry seem like they can hit homers in their sleep while Jibran Waqar, Hassan Chaudhry, and Taher Mirza can play the field with their eyes closed. Rizvan Merchant has to try hard at the mound but he’s still pretty good at it. This is just a reminder how stacked this team is. They await either the Seljuqs and Ayyubids in the semis, while they will look to chalk up more homers in the last game of the season against the Sultans.
Ottomans vs Ayyubids – 5:30PM BW1
The Ottomans pull their way back up to third and lock it up with 2 ambitious victories last week. The ball club is known for their ability to keep their opponents in reach even when their bats aren’t clicking and wait for Rehan the Great to drive the bus home. Rehan Ahmad once again hits a walkoff homer to put his team in the W column in a game that was slipping away. The juggernaut will have his eye on the homerun title leading with 13, but only two ahead of the current runners up. The one-two punch of Rehan and Shaheen Limbada was once again seen on different ends of the order with Shoaib Gaya sweeping in between but we figure the Ottomans are experimenting for optimal results. A K has been standing the mound well and allowing his field to make the plays while he can focus more on chipping away at the plate at number 2. The Navy and Red are no doubt a dangerous team but most of their danger comes from Rehan and Shaheen as the lineup can be inconsistent at times, but their defense is where they make up for it. They take on the Ayyubids this week to charge up for the Sultans and avenge an embarrassing loss last time out.
The Ayyubids suffered two losses and a huge blow on their way to the playoffs last weekend forcing them to take an early pit-stop and reroute through the Seljuqs and Mamluks to play for the cup. Star pitcher Ali Jabbar was allowed to take vacation days during these crucial games causing league viewers to point fingers at GM Umer Jabbar (who happens to be his brother). The other brother, Umair Jabbar, has been a leader for the team on and off the field with his performances and dedication, but all superstars must receive special treatment these days and pressure is on Umer to strike a balance. The blow definitely came from the mound last week, where Zain Khilji stood for both games. It’s not that he couldn’t pitch, it was more his mentality that he can be a Roy Halladay on his first outing with no practice. He also needs to control his emotions if he wants to pitch. This comes to show how valuable Ali is to the team especially after he pulled out 2 wins with an 8 player squad the week before. The Ayyubids bats have been very inconsistent this season – it’s either on or off with no between. Last week they had 17 hits verses the Seljuqs and 5 against the Nasrids. On their “on” days, this team can really play the long ball with 7 players going over the fence more than once this season. Umair leads with 7, while Khilji and Ahmad Ammad follow with four apiece. The Ayyubids will take on the Ottomans before the post-season and will look to gain some momentum against a quality team. Umair has to hit another homer to satisfy his 8 homer season quota.
Abbasids vs Mughals – 7:00PM BW1
The Abbasids had another rough season at BSL registering only two wins this season with one game remaining. Similar to the Nasrids, the team hosted some great talent but struggled to put in all-rounded team performances. They made the Sultans work for their win last week, bolstering a late rally that fell just short of a comeback. GM Ahmed Hussain will be upset with this season's results and will face a tough choice on who to bring back for the Lions. We can only assume he has already began to think about it. The question is whether he will look to put together another Expos team or change to safer strategy. The Abbasids will take on the Mughals to close their season and try to prove they should have made the playoffs. Last thing they want is to finish last and drive away their supporters and ticket sales.
The Mughals came through with another pair of wins and made a bold statement last week that echoed…“D! J! ZAHID! WE DA BEST!” In the victory that gave them no real ground in the standings but meant no less than a must win playoff game, the Mughals came in with the tiger in their eyes, and fire in their veins. They showed the league the Mamluks can be beaten and how typical of the blues, beating them through club-made intangibles. The team is still sitting on cloud nine with enough high to perhaps reunite them with the BSL cup. The top order was unstoppable and the life of their bats must have taken a steep decline. Mohammed Ali Pasha enjoyed the free ride going 0 for 5 at the plate. Sorry, I guess he contributed on defense. But Ismail Akhter…this guy is a beast and he grew too big, too fast. Back at the draft, GMs questions if this guy could make routine plays and hit some green. Yeah, he doesn’t hit green because he’s hitting the brown of the rusted train tracks behind the fences at Birchwood. With 11 homers, the homerun title may just be out of reach but we know he can smash a couple a game. The Mughals take on the Abbasids in the last week of the season where they come with the same intensity to carry into the post-season. Someone’s gotta pour some ice water on these guys.
Nasrids vs Seljuqs – 8:30PM BW1
The Nasrids won a game last week! Against the Ayyubids! Their rivals! We still wonder what this team could have been, but they still have plenty of talent to show. Bilal Javed, Nirvaan Latif and N K have put up great numbers at the plate this season and will all play important roles for their respective teams next year (insha’Allah) as Usama Mahmood and Osman Buttar are expected to core the Nasrids. There was a glimmer of hope to make the post-season coming into last week’s games having to win 3 of the 3 remaining games, but they fell short in the first against the Ottomans. Buttar’s batting average plummeted as fast as the Nasrids playoff hopes and management will be wary of what happens come next season. The Nasrids now play for dignity to prevent their dynasty from finishing last for 2 years in a row. They will play the Seljuqs who are on the rise and certainly expected to come out on top, but rumour has it the word forfeit is in the air as there is yet another family wedding approaching and hosting 6 of the 12 Nasrids players. The 2017 Nasrids will come out stronger with a definite change in strategy.
The Seljuqs continued their strong form putting up two solid performances against a pair of top half teams in the Ayyubids and Ottomans. The Eagles have definitely been the most improved team at BSL and they are really showing they can compete with the bigger teams in the league. Taha Iqbal and Imran Merchant have been putting in work at the plate going for the long ball or settling for a single when they prefer. GM Ibrahim Sardar is the serenity of the ball club, letting the bat and glove make his statements and keeping all the hovering energy stable and in control. The team will find the Ayyubids in the first round of the post-season and will have to be at their best as the win won’t come as easy as the last. The angry birds welcome back Sameer Rafique to their mix to solidify their field and add some pop in the line-up. They take on the Nasrids in the last game of the season and will look to continue their success into the playoffs.
Nasrids v Ottomans: The Nasrid were looking to complete a miracle and squeeze into the playoffs but the Ottomans had other ideas. The Nasrids were held scoreless through 6 innings before they were able to get two in the final inning. The Ottomans came out slow but got a huge 7 run 4th that put the game out of reach. The Ottomans played small ball and came away with the victory. The Nasrids post season hopes officially came to an end.
Final Score: Nasrids - 2, Ottomans - 12 Star of the Game - Junaid Mirza - Click to watch POTG Video
Final Score: Ayyubids - 19, Seljuqs - 22 Star of the Game - Imran Merchant
Final Score: Nasrids - 12, Ayyubids- 6 Stars of the Game - Asim Waheed/Taqi Ahmed - Click to watch POTG Video
Sultans v Abbasids: In a do or die game for both teams, this game had the makings of a tight one all the way. The Sultans jumped out to a huge 8-1 lead through two innings on huge RBIs hits by Shamil Khadaroo but were blanked the rest of the way. The Abbasids mounted a late game comeback and found themselves down 4 in the final at-bat. Orange was able to get 3 across with the winning run on base with two outs for Omair Zuberi who popped up to end the game. The Sultans lock up a playoff spot with the win and the Abbasids once again finish at the bottom of the tables.
Final Score: Sultans - 8, Abbasids - 7 Star of the Game - Shamil Khadaroo
Mughals v Mamluks: In a huge matchup of first vs second, the Mughals found themselves down to 9 men while the Mamluks looked to continue their streak. The Mughals started off with a 4 run first on a grand slam by Ismail Akhter. The Mamluks however replied with 6 runs on 4 homeruns. The Mughals continued to tack on runs every inning while the Mamluks were only able to find another 4 runs in the 4th inning. The Mughals continued their small ball and shut down the Mamluks in the final 3 innings to get the win and break the streak.
Final score: Mughals - 14, Mamluks - 10 Star of the Game - Zahid Merchant - Click to watch POTG Video
Mamluks v Abbasids: In a meaningless game for both sides, the Mamluks were looking for vengeance after their first loss and took it out on the poor Abbasids. The Green machine put up back to back 7 run innings to put this game away. Omer Chaudhry and Shahzad Ahmed homered for the Mamluks who looked in cruise control. The Abbasids only bright spot on the day was striking out Mamluks top hitters. Apart from that, they didn't get any extra base hits. Both teams close out the season next week and the Abbasids will be looking for the soccer cleats to prepared for BISL.
Final score: Mamluks - 21, Abbasids - 6 Star of the Game - Omer Chaudhry - Click to watch POTG Video
Mughals v Sultans: The Mughals magic number was one coming into this game to lock up the second seed while the Sultans still had hopes of moving up the standings. This one turned into a pitchers dual as both teams had only scored 2 runs total through 4 innings and ironically it was both pitchers that scored those runs. The Mughals offense woke up in the 4th for 3 runs and then another 5 in the 7th on homeruns by Nadeem Hussain and Ismail Akhter. The Sultans rallied for a pair of runs in the 6th and 7th but it wasn't enough. Both teams advance to the playoffs but the Sultans will have to play a wild card game to make the semis.
Final score: Mughals - 9, Sultans - 5 Star of the Game - Nadeem Hussain
That wraps up week 8. The playoff match ups are all set with only the final regular season left as a dress rehersal.
So you have a team sitting in second place on the season, having an ace on the mound throughout the year and the league’s top defence, and what do they do to start off the season post-break? Put a new pitcher on the mound and switch up their defence. After AK dominated the whole season to a tune of only one loss (to the Mamluks, no less), the Navies went with Hamza Hussain for both games this weekend. Hussain performed admirably, settling in well and staying consistent throughout, but unfortunately found himself in the losing column for both games. On top of that, GM Hashim Ghazi moved Rehan Ahmad from shortstop to centrefield for the weekend, thereby stacking the outfield to feature all three of Shaheen Limbada, Michael Arlitt, and Ahmad. The Ottomans also tinkered with their lineup, moving Shaheen Limbada into the 6-spot in hopes of balancing out the lineup. The end result still led to the same number of runs they’ve been averaging all year, and makes you wonder if all the changes really made the team better. This was the first weekend the Ottomans lost both their games, and it will be interesting to see how they set up offensively and defensively this weekend with big matchups against the free swinging Nasrids and in-form Seluqs. The Ottomans dropped all the way down to fourth and will need two huge wins and some help if they want to regain the second seed. They have already locked up a playoff spot so will just be playing for seeding.
Seljuqs (vs. Ayyubids – 2:00PM BW2; @ Ottomans – 3:30 BW2)
The Seljuqs have made a night-and-day transformation between the team we saw in the beginning of the season and the one we see now. A team that looked helpless on both sides of the ball in the first few weeks now appear to be in every game, and even showed they can give a rollicking themselves to opponents. After grinding through a clutch win against the Sultans and smacking the leather off the ball in a mercy victory over the Abbasids, they look as threatening as a 5th place team can look. This team has a lot of characteristics of the Seljuqs that made its way to the finals last year. They solved their pitching woes with Taha Iqbal settling in nicely. Sameer Rafique gets stronger at short stop every week, and the use of an aggressive rover in the outfield has limited opponents from getting bloop singles against the angry birds. They’ll need to keep that momentum going against two teams above them in the standings – the Ayyubids and Ottomans – this week. This team firmly believes going 2-0 against these teams is not out of reach, and if they show up like they did last week, they may find themselves in a battle for the second or third spot heading into the final weekend.
The Mughals didn’t look their best after the long layoff, but fought through it and got two huge walkoff victories to move them into second place in the L. Ismail Akhter continued his strong rookie campaign with a pair of dingers this past Sunday, moving into third place amongst the leaders in both home runs and runs batted in. Also, Faraaz Alvi is putting together his most complete season to date, surpassing his hit total from the last two years with still a few games to play. With Rafique Choudhry unavailable for the doubleheader, Mohammed Ali Pasha played the full game at short and despite some errors in game two, held down the position really well. The Mughals did field some calls around the trade deadline in an effort to put them over the top, but felt that no deal really made them better off than where they stand right now. After a statement win against the Ottomans, they look to continue their winning ways into this weekend in a massive matchup against the Mamluks and the Abbasids. The Mughals control their own destiny in the playoff standings with firm control over second place and just need to win out to hold on to the first round bye.
This weekend will determine if teams will have something to play for next Sunday. We expect games to have a playoff like atmosphere this weekend as teams push towards the playoffs. See you on the diamond.
Nasrids v Mughals: The Nasrid came out hungry to keep their playoff hope alive and took an early lead on a Bilal Javed homerun. The Mughals were slow out of the gates but eventually caught up and took the lead on homeruns by Ismail Akhter and Zuhair Fancy. The Nasrids fought back in the bottom of the 7th to tie the game ona 2 run homerun by Bilal Javed (his third of the game). The Mughals rallied to fill the bases and got a break when the Nasrids pitcher botched a routine ground out to overthrow 3rd to allow the winning run.
Final Score: Nasrids - 10, Mughals - 11 Star of the Game - Zuhair Fancy - Click to watch POTG Video
Final Score: Ottomans - 10, Mamluks - 18 Star of the Game - Shahzad Ahmed - Click to watch POTG Video
Final Score: Ottomans - 9, Mughals- 10 Stars of the Game - Mohammed Ali Pasha - Click to watch POTG Video
Ayyubids v Abbasids: This game featured two teams without the GMs but one played like they didn't miss a beat. The Ayyubids jumped out to a 9-4 lead early in the game and didn't look back. The only offense the Abbasids were able to get all game were two homeruns from Rameez Siddiqi and Kashif Irshad. The Abbasids looked in disarray. The Ayyubids showed no mercy though as they pounded on the runs, led by Zaid Ghansar's 3-5 5 RBI game.
Final Score: Ayyubids - 18, Abbasids - 5 Star of the Game - Zaid Ghansar
Seljuqs v Sultans: In a huge matchup in the standings, this had the makings of a close game. In a tie game going into the 6th, the Seljuqs took control on a homerun by Imran Merchant and some small ball to take a 9-5 lead. The Sultans closed it to 9-7 going into the last inning. The Sultans loaded the bases with no outs with the heart of their order up. Ali Nazir flied out, Zain Malk flied out and W K flied out to end the game. The Sultans will be having nightmares about how they blew a golden opportunity to move up in the standings. Meanwhile, the Seljuqs get a crucial win to move past the Sultans.
Final score: Seljuqs - 9, Sultans - 7 Star of the Game - Imran Merchant
Abbasids v Seljuqs: The orangemen were already without their two leaders Ahmad Hussain and Haris Mallick but they say Rameeza Siddiqi disappear for this game as well. The Seljuqs showed no pity as they jumped out to an early 11-0 lead. The Abbasids only had 8 players and some of them looked like mannequins out there. This one looked like someone had to throw in the towel as the Seljuqs just poured in the blows with a monster homerun by Sameer Rafique as they won 18-1.
Final score: Abbasids - 1, Seljuqs - 18 Star of the Game - Sameer Rafique
Sultans v Ayyubids: In another important game, Sultans took an early 4-0 lead on RBI singles by Amir Khalil and Atif Parvaiz. However, the Ayyubids would have a 7 run 3rd inning to climb back on top that ended with a Zain Khilji sac fly. Zain Malik would bring them within 1 with a 2 run homerun in the final frame. The Sultans got the tying run on first with their GM up by he flew out to end the game. The Sultans lose two heartbreakers on the day to drop in the standings while the Ayyubids get two important wins to move up.
Final score: Sultans - 9, Ayyubids - 10 Star of the Game - Ahmed Butt
That wraps up week 7. Only two weeks left as we make the final playoff push.
This week marks the second installment outlining the performance of each team in the first half. Here are the remaining four teams that are fighting to move up the standings.
2016 Mid-season Statistics:
Captain: Tanseer Khawaja
Top Performer: Suhail Taji
Second-half Sleeper: Shamil Khadaroo
Biggest Surprise: Zain Malik
Remaining Schedule: vs. Seljuqs, @ Ayyubids, @ Abbasids, vs. Mughals, @ Mamluks
Charity Represented: ISNA Food Bank
GM: Ibrahim Sardar
Captain: Imran Merchant
Top Performer: Taha Iqbal
Second-half Sleeper: Furhan Azmat
Biggest Surprise: Asim Gauhar
Remaining Schedule: @ Sultans, vs. Abbasids, vs. Ayyubids, @ Ottomans, vs. Nasrids
Charity Represented: Hospital for Sick Children
GM: Ahmad Hussain
Captain: Haris Mallick
Top Performer: Kashif Irshad
Second-half Sleeper: Hammad Afif
Biggest Surprise: Atif Qureshi
Remaining Schedule: vs. Ayyubids, @ Seljuqs, vs. Sultans, vs. Mamluks, @ Mughals
Charity Represented: ICNA Relief
GM: Kashif Waheed
Captain: Usama Mahmood
Top Performer: Osman Buttar
Second-half Sleeper: Hamza Waheed
Biggest Surprise: Bilal Javed
Remaining Schedule: @ Mughals, @ Mamluks, @ Ottomans, @ Ayyubids, @ Seljuqs
That completes all 8 teams. Only 6 make the playoffs. Let the games begin.
This week marks the first of two installments outlining the performance of each team in the first half. We start this week with a breakdown of the top four teams in the league. Here are some league wide stats to provide some context.
2016: Games Played: 36; League Batting Avg: 0.443; League On-base percentage: 0.498; Total Homeruns: 140; Avg Homeruns per game: 3.8; Total Hits: 980; Avg Hits per game: 27.2; Total Errors: 234; Total Walks: 276
2015: Games Played: 36; League Batting Avg: 0.394; League On-base percentage: 0.454; Total Homeruns: 91; Avg Homeruns per game: 2.3; Total Hits: 860; Avg Hits per game: 22.0; Total Errors: 235 Total Walks: 257
Top Performer: Jibran Waqar
Second-half Sleeper: Omer Chaudhry
Biggest Surprise: Shahzad Ahmed
Remaining Schedule: vs. Ottomans, vs. Nasrids, vs. Mughals, @ Abbasids, vs. Sultans
Team stats: 2.77 errors per game; 7.8 runs given up per game; 0.88 unearned runs per game
Team stats: 8.01 earned runs per game; 19 home run given up; 1.2 strikeouts per game; 2.4 walks per game
After the draft, no one knew who would be pitching for the Mamluks. GM Rizvan Merchant took it upon himself to prove the pitching runs in Merchant blood. With very little experence, 'the Regulator' has been solid and consistent on the mound for the green squad. His walks are below league average and he has trusted the bulletproof defense behind him to do their job. Riz also goes beyond the call of duty on the mound by yapping in the batter's ear during the entire at-bat. Hitters have been constantly distracted by his chatter and will be hoping Riz brings his mid-inning meal with him to the mound to keep his mouth busy.
Charity Represented: SMILE
Top Performer: Rehan Ahmad
Second-half Sleeper: Faisal Khan
Biggest Surprise: A K
Remaining Schedule: @ Mamluks, @ Mughals, vs. Nasrids, vs. Seljuqs, @ Ayyubids
Team stats: 0.451 batting average; 0.491 on-base percentage; 17 homeruns; 122 hits; 10.3 runs scored per game
The Ottomans brought back almost the same squad as last year but their mentality has changed. While most of their offensive numbers are down from last year, they have been able to win low scoring games and have gotten just enough offense. Rehan Ahmad and Shaheen Limbada continue their all-star form and solidify the middle of the order but many wonder if they would be better off separated in the lineup for balance. Michael Arlitt has been solid at the top of the lineup and Hashim Ghazi has found his year one form again but apart from that the Turks have been lacking the consistency. Shoaib Bhatti has shown glimmering signs of brilliance every few games and the Ottomans will be hoping he can string together a few good weeks. A K has been a diamond in the rough for this team as he is having his best BSL season to date with both bat and ball. In order for the Ottomans offense to turn it around, analysts look to either Faisal Khan or Zain Fancy to come out of their funk and become the second cleanup guy. Faisal was a long-ball threat in year one of BSL but injuries have limited his offensive output since. The Ottomans offense currently is too top heavy and needs balance from the bottom of the order which Faisal is capable of delivering.
Team stats: 2.33 errors per game; 8.6 runs given up per game; 2.0 unearned runs per game
Team stats: 7.92 earned runs per game; 14 home runs given up; 1.22 strikeouts per game; 3.55 walks per game
Charity Represented: Muslim Welfare Centre - Regent Park Meals Drive
GM: Zahid Merchant
Captain: Nadeem Hussain/Zuhair Fancy
Top Performer: Faraaz Alvi
Second-half Sleeper: Mohammad Ali Pasha
Biggest Surprise: Ismail Akhter
Team stats: 0.486 batting average; 0.541 on-base percentage; 19 homeruns; 158 hits; 16.4 runs scored per game
Team stats: 3.1 errors per game; 9.3 runs given up per game; 2.88 unearned runs per game
Team stats: 8.22 earned runs per game; 11 home run given up; 1.88 strikeouts per game; 4.0 walks per game
Charity Represented: ICNA Food Bank
GM: Umer Jabbar
Captain: Umair Jabbar
Top Performer: Umair Jabbar
Second-half Sleeper: Ahmad Ammad
Biggest Surprise: Ahmed Butt
Team stats: 0.436 batting average; 0.494 on-base percentage; 18 homeruns; 130 hits; 11.4 runs scored per game
Team stats: 3.88 errors per game; 10.2 runs given up per game; 3.4 unearned runs per game
Team stats: 8.48 earned runs per game; 17 home run given up; 1.5 strikeouts per game; 2.2 walks per game
Coming up next week.......a look at the underdogs, hungry to dismantle the top dogs of BSL and make waves as we approach the playoffs.
- Click to watch SOTG Video
Sultans v Nasrids: The two bottem dwellers took to the field in an attempt to leave the other behind. The Sultans got out to an early 3-0 lead on a Zain Malik single but Nasrids struck back with an N K homerun and rallied to take a 5-4 lead before a rain delay. Once play resumed, the Nasrids were unable to find their starting pitcher Omar Hussain. Hamza Waheed was forced to pitch and allowed Tanseer Khawaja to drive in the winning run. The Sultans would take the lead in the 5th on RBI singles by Zain Malik and Shamil Khadaroo. Nirvaan Latif would drive in the run in the bottom half but Usama Mahmood and N K couldn't cash in the trying run. Tanseer Khawaja pitched a great game, only allowing 6 runs with 3 of them earned.
Final Score: Sultans - 7, Nasrids - 6 Star of the Game - Tanseer Khawaja - Click to watch POTG Video
Final Score: Ottomans - 9, Abbasids - 3 Star of the Game - Zain Fancy
Final Score: Abbasids - 4, Nasrids- 13 Stars of the Game - Nirvaan Latif & Hamza Waheed - Click to watch POTG Video
Final Score: Ottomans - 5, Sultans - 12 Star of the Game - W K - Click to watch POTG Video
Mamluks v Seljuqs: The Mamluks continue to stampede through the league and they have started breaking records on the way. Rizvan Merchant pitched a one hit shutout over the overwhelmed Seljuqs. Riz pitched the second shutout in BSL history. If shutting out your opponents wasn't enough, the Mamluks would put up 19 runs on the board to annihilate their competition. Every player on the Mamluks got a hit to increase their run differential. The Mamluks almost assure themselves of the first seed before the break.
Final score: Mamluks - 19, Seljuqs - 0 Star of the Game - Rizvan Merchant - Click to watch POTG Video
Mughals v Ayyubids: The Mughals came into Sunday with their team being questioned. They found out earlier in the day, they would be without their GM and pitcher Zahid Merchant who had just welcomed a new baby girl (Congrats). The Badshahs came flying out of the gates with two consecutive mercy innings (BSL record). The Ayyubids were stunned and tried to put together a rally but the Mughals played great defence around their new pitcher Mohammad Ali Pasha. Pasha looked like a seasoned vet out there after a shaky first inning. The Mughals got two hits from almost everyone on their team and poured in runs every inning. The Ayyubids kept getting runners on base but were unable to bring them home. They were held homer-less for the first time and it might be the first time a team didn't hit a homerun on field 2. The Mughals dedicated the victory to their absent GM and had a statement game. Ismail Akhter earned player of the game for going 4-4 with a homer and 7 RBIs.
Final score: Mughals - 26, Ayyubids - 7 Star of the Game - Ismail Akhter - Click to watch POTG Video
Seljuqs v Mughals: In the final game before the break, two teams coming off mercy games. One was in victory while the other was in a historical loss. The Seljuqs finally found some offence in the first inning with RBI singles by Sheraz Mahmood and Furhan Azmat to put the birds up 3-0. The Mughals brought their warm bats as they put up another mercy inning in the first on the backs of Ismail Akhter and Zuhair Fancy homeruns. Asim Qurayshi would get the mercy hit to finish off the inning. The Seljuqs added one in the second but the Mughals put on another 6 on an Atif Akhtar double and Asim Qurayshi single to go up 13-4. The Seljuqs would add a few more but the Mughals put an end to their misery with another 7 run mercy inning in the 4th to end the game. The Mughals fans must be wondering if this team is better off without their starting pitcher and GM as the Mughals demolish both games. The Mughals team would tell you otherwise.
Final score: Seljuqs - 7, Mughals - 22 Star of the Game - Ismail Akhter - Click to watch POTG Video
Ayyubids v Mamluks: This game also featured two teams coming off mercy games and the Mamluks were looking to go undefeated into the break. The Ayyubids however would not go away easy even without their regular outfield. The Ayyubids struck first with an Atif Khan leadoff homerun but the Mamluks responded with 3 in the bottom half. The Ayyubids tied it up in the 2nd with a Hasan Afzal RBI single but Sikandar Aftab replied with a huge homerun to put the Mamluks back up. Jibran Waqar and Omer Chaudhry would hit long shots too as the Mamluks went up big. The Ayyubids would reply with the long ball as well in the 5th with Zain Khilji, Ali Jabbar, Ahmad Ammad going deep to bring them down one. Shahzad Ahmed would hit a two run shot but Umer Jabbar would reply with a 3 run homerun but only 1 run counted due to a base running error. That momentum change was all the Mamluks needed as they added another 5 runs to close out the game.
Final score: Ayyubids - 8, Mamluks - 15 Star of the Game - Sikandar Aftab - Click to watch POTG Video
This is it folks, this is the week of the Nasrid breakout. Despite chasing after that elusive ‘W’, the Nasrids have a golden opportunity to go 2-0 where they square off against two teams who failed to register a win last week. The Spaniards need to find a way to score early in the game as they’ve been playing catch up all season. GM Kashif Waheed continues to be optimistic that things have already begun to turn around citing last week’s match where they outhit the Mughals 13-9 in a losing cause. The Nasrids are looking to forget their 3-run performance the last time they played the Stallions and with the team slowly beginning to run on all cylinders, expect a closer dual between the two. The Nasrids found themselves losing to themselves against the Abbasids the last time they met, dropping a win by walking a whopping 14 batters! Kashif has found himself changing his pitchers more often than Justin Bieber changes his hairstyles. Their bloated 6-man pitching rotation has walked 62 batter thus far, 22 more than the next-in-line pitcher. Nevertheless, this team is far from out as it’s pretty clear it’s not the offense nor the fielding but the mound that needs to be addressed. On the bright side, new additions N K and Bilal Javed continue to hit the ball well supporting anchor, Osman Buttar with offensive production. In fact, Bilal Javed is one of three players in the league to hit 1.000 with runners in scoring position. Kashif Waheed himself is beginning to find his groove at the plate so expect an interesting turn of events this week where we may find a new basement dweller. Two losses this week and they might as well make other plans for August 27th.
Abbasids (vs. Ottomans – 2:00PM BW2; @ Nasrids – 3:30 BW1)
The Orangemen continue to lurch in mediocrity as their current record stands at 2-4-1. Suffering a humiliating loss by the Ayyubids, GM Ahmad Hussain has ordered a team practice hoping to find an explanation to their lack of offense. Fielding-wise the team has committed only 18 errors, the least in the league. Yet with sufficient power from top to bottom, the Abbasids have averaged under 5 runs in their last 3 games so clearly a shake-up is needed. Rumour has it a friendly match is set against the Nasrids sometime during the week. Interestingly, both teams are slated to face off for their second game this Sunday so expect both GMs to fill their pages with detailed scouting reports. Known as ‘late-bloomers’ there’s no reason not to expect the same this season. Late round pick up, Atif Qureshi has been a potent force with a team-leading batting average of .667 at the plate. Should we be surprised? He lead the 2015 squad with 4 doubles so expect outfielders to be on the alert the next time he steps up to the plate. While Kashif Irshad and Hammad Afif are beginning to find their bats, the Abbasids will have trouble securing a playoff spot unless their once offensive juggernaut Rameez Siddiqi quickly finds his rhythm. With the season half done, one wonders whether Rameez’s weight loss has something to do with his reduced offensive production as his numbers are nowhere close to last season’s. The Abbasids are looking to redeem themselves against the Ottomans, suffering a loss after scoring 9 runs in the first 2 innings the last time these teams met. With a history of bringing their A-game against top tier teams, don’t be surprised if they climb out of mediocrity and go 2-0 week.
The badshah’s are in unfamiliar territory with their 4-3 record. The Mughals franchise has never tasted 3 regular season losses and been this low in the standings this late in the season. They concerning part is they have not beat a team with a winning record so far and continue to have their offence disappearing in big games. In their 3 losses thus far, they have left over 10 men on base and have been held scoreless in 3 innings each game. Onlookers commented that this Mughals team has lost its chemistry and everyone is swinging for the fences to pad their own stats, a far cry from their small ball strategy. It will be interesting to see how the team deals with mediocrity. We expect them to shake up their batting lineup this week to spark their offence. Zuhair Fancy, Mohammed Ali Pasha and Randy Panesar are all batting under 0.400 for the first time in their careers. They will need to make amends to balance out the lineup. The Mughals also are at the top of the league in errors committed which can’t make their supporters happy. One opposing GM mentioned you can tell which Mughals team will show up based on how early the players arrive. With games against the Ayyubids and the Seljuqs this Sunday, the Mughals have a chance to either move up in the standings or drastically fall to the basement before the break. Let's see which Mughals team shows up this week.
Enjoy the last week of games before the break. Ramadan Kareem.
Ayyubids v Sultans: The Ayyubids put the pressure on the Sultans early with a 7 run mercy inning to start. Not the start the Sultans would have wanted. The Sultans replied back with 3 runs. Even though they shut down the Ayyubids offence for the next 3 innings, they weren't able to get enough runs across to make a game of it. The Ayyubids continued their solid form with 15 hits and 12 singles. The Sultans however could only get 6 hits with their bottom four hitters going 0-8. Ali Jabbar went 3-3 and only allowed 6 hits for the player of the game honours.
Final Score: Ayyubids - 11, Nasrids - 6 Star of the Game - Ali Jabbar
Final Score: Seljuqs - 6, Abbasids - 6 Star of the Game - Hammad Afif & Imran Merchant
Final Score: Sultans - 3, Seljuqs- 9 Stars of the Game - Fuzail Thakur
Final Score: Abbasids - 2, Ayyubids - 20 Star of the Game - Ahmad Butt & Hasan Afzal - Click to watch POTG Video
Mamluks v Ottomans: Two undefeated teams took the field at 5pm on Sunday and only one would survive. The Mamluks made sure the Ottomans knew it would be them early with a 10-1 lead after 2 innings. The Ottomans would reply back with 2 homeruns from Rehan Ahmad but as the Mamluks have done all season, they put up crooked numbers regularly. They replied with a big 6 run inning in the 5th to put the game out of reach. Umair Shaikh went 3-4 with a homerun and 7 RBIs to help his squad remain flawless.
Final score: Mamluks - 18, Ottomans - 11 Star of the Game - Umair Shaikh
Mughals v Nasrids: The winless Nasrids came this Sunday ready to turn their season around. They all arrived 60 mins early to practice and get ready. The Mughals as usual, arrived right at game time but were that ones that struck first. With Omar Husain making his pitching debut, the Mughals took 7 walks in the first inning before Jibran Khan hit a monster homerun to mercy the inning. The Nasrids would reply back with a Bilal Javed homerun but the walks continued to pile up against for the Nasrids. The Mughals would add on another 5 runs late to put this game out of reach. Ismail Akhter went 3-3 with a homerun and 2 doubles in the victory.
Final score: Mughals - 14, Nasrids - 10 Star of the Game - Ismail Akhter
Mughals v Ottomans: In the final game of the night on diamond 1, two rivals took to the diamond. The Ottomans took advantage first putting up 6 runs in the first three innings and held the Mughals scoreless. The badshah's would finally get their bats going with a 7 run 4th capped off by a Nadeem Hussain homerun. The Ottomans however, would reply back with a 7 run 2 out rally in the 5th to go up for good. The Mughals would get one more but would leave men on base again. The badshah's left the bases loaded 3 times and came away with nothing. Rehan Ahmad would hit another homerun while Shoaib Bhatti went 2-4 with 2 doubles and 4 RBIs against his former team.
Final score: Mughals - 8, Ottomans - 13 Star of the Game - Shoaib Bhatti
Mamluks v Nasrids: In a matchup of undefeated vs winless, the result was almost predictable. The Mamluks offence showed no mercy as they put up another 20 runs against an opponent. The Nasrids tried matching them homerun for homerun but didn't have the depth to keep pace on the scoreboard. Omer Chaudhry hit 2 homeruns batting in the cleanup role to add to his RBI totals. The Nasrids will have to go back to drawing board to figure out another strategy because their plan didn't work this Sunday.
Final score: Mamluks - 22, Nasrids - 11 Star of the Game - Omer Chaudhry - Click to watch POTG Video
The Sultans have been practicing during the break to be better than their record suggests and they are better than a 1-4 team. The Stallions can’t catch a break, with teams going yard and demolishing the score line. The Sultans can hit and field but just can’t find their rhythm. It’s surprising to see Suhail Taji and W K put only 1 homerun to thier name so far and it could be the reason Sultans are struggling to keep up at the plate. Noor Shiekh has come around from last season to hit 3 over the fence but a production needs more than one moving piece. The 2015 Best pitcher, Tanseer Khawaja continues to surprise us with his athletics and we are beginning to think his young soul is trapped in the Robocop body. In exhibition, Khawaja ran the diamond for an in the park homer, made spectacular catches behind the plate from the mound, and even fetched the homerun balls his teammates hit. Practice and game are whole different things and this week the Sultans take on the Seljuqs and Ayyubids, both coming in with high hopes against them. The squad must invest in momentum of their own to overcome these matchups and get back into the standings.
Abbasids (vs. Seljuqs – 2:00PM BW2; @ Ayyubids – 3:30 BW2)
The Abbasids have had a bumpy ride at BSL so far and are riding the middle of the standings with 1 game below 500. The Orangemen can score runs, there’s no doubt about it, but they haven’t been able to stop their opponents from doing so. Omair Zuberi continues to hit the plate and disallow batters from taking a walk, but is he doing enough to make it difficult to get the ball in play. It may be too critical to ask questions of the pitcher who has done nothing wrong and this early, but the Abbasids need to start somewhere to strengthen their defences. The field is well scripted to make those routine plays but can they make the extra out or the fine catch? GM Ahmed Hussain put together a well rounded team from a home away from home but there is still room to improve chemistry as many have not played together most notably, the doctor trio. Speaking off, Hammad Afif needs to get the gorilla off his back, or have whatever Atif Qureshi is having. The Abbasids take on the Seljuqs and Ayyubids this week for a chance to jump the standings and up their rep as a squad that can challenge the best.
The Mamluks are perfect with 5 wins in 5 games and are doing it with ease. Alas, the Bordertown guys found a team to embody them and now look to take BSL. With a run differential of 43 in just 5 games the team is on track to set unbreakable records. The team is rolling on all 12 wheels with impactful contributions from every player and it’s incredible to see the worst batting average on the team is .412. In fact, 10 out of 12 guys have hit homeruns so far and the 2 who didn’t are certainly capable of it. Rizwan Merchant, being 1 of the 2, is living the stress free GM life, leaving it up to his abundant superstars Jibran Waqar, Taher Mirza, Hassan Chaudhry and rookie Shahzad Ahmed to do what they do. The giggly Rizwan is enjoying himself at the plate with no pressure and perhaps the reason why his average has suffered, but on the mound he knows he has to do well and has beyond expectation. In other news, first basemen, Umair Sheikh, is in retirement form as he held his back while limping to first on a grounder during an exhibition game. Legends say he used to hold a golden glove but the old age that came too early now forces him to play at first. Regardless, Umair will be an important piece for the greens as they look to extend their perfect season especially against the number 2s, Ottomans. Everyone including our simulators expects them to be 7-0 after Sunday.
Ayyubids v Nasrids: On a cold day, there were plenty of Waheed/Mahmood family to take in the first game. The Nasrids were looking for their first win and started off cold going scoreless in their first two innings. The Ayyubids played small ball and got walks to bring in 5 runs before the Nasrids woke up. The Nasrids finally got runs off a Osman Buttar homerun to get back in the game but the Ayyubids got a clutch bases clearing double from injured Atif Khan to give them a big cushion. Ali Jabbar struck out 5 batters on the day to shut down the Nasrids offence for the win.
Final Score: Ayyubids - 10, Nasrids - 4 Star of the Game - Atif Khan
Final Score: Ottomans - 14, Seljuqs - 14 Star of the Game - Taha Iqbal
Final Score: Ayyubids - 5, Ottomans- 6 Stars of the Game - Hamza Hussain - Click to watch POTG Video
Final Score: Seljuqs - 24, Nasrids - 15 Star of the Game - Imran Merchant
Mamluks v Mughals: The undefeated Mamluks looked to make it 4-0 against the Mughals and they started off the game with a flurry of singles and a homerun from Taher Mirza to open the score at 7-0. The Mughals tried to respond but once again left men on base at critical moments. The lone bright spot was Randy Panesar hitting a two run homerun. The Mamluks got hitting from every part of their order despite 5 strikeouts in the game. The Mamluks continued their good early season form to easily win this one.
Final score: Mamluks - 14, Mughals - 8 Star of the Game - Taher Mirza - Click to watch POTG Video
Abbasids v Sultans: White and Orange faced off to turn their season around. Both teams started off in a frenzy with big innings and homeruns from unlikely sources. Noor Sheikh, Shamil Khadaroo, Kamil Haider and Atif Qureshi all hit their first career BSL homeruns. It was Atif's 3 run homer that was the difference in this game and put the Abbasids ahead for good. The Sultans missed the presence of their big bats in this game while the Abbasids got a much needed win.
Final score: Abbasids - 14, Sultans - 10 Star of the Game - Atif Qureshi - Click to watch POTG Video
Mughals v Abbasids: In the final game of the night on diamond 1, the Abbasids jumped out to an early 5-1 lead against the Mughals before their offense finally showed up. The Mughals batted around for a crucial 7 run inning with hits coming from Jibran Khan and Asim Qurayshi to finish off the inning. That would open up the floor gates as the Mughals scored another 7 runs in the next three innings. The Abbasids offence couldn't carry over to diamond 1 as they were held to 1 run after the 3rd inning. Both teams earned a split on the day to stay in the middle of the pack.
Final score: Mughals - 15, Abbasids - 6 Star of the Game - Nadeem Hussain
Mamluks v Sultans: In the final game on a cold day, the Mamluks were relentless in their attack on the Sultans. They scored crooked runs in every inning to put up 22 runs. They got homeruns from Jibran Waqar, Umair Sheikh, Baseer Yasseen and Asad Moten in their onslaught. The Sultans did their best to keep up but there was no way they were scoring 22 runs. Noor Sheikh and Shamil Khadaroo added to their good day with another homerun each. On the bright side, the Sultans got hits from everyone so they just need to work on driving in those runs. The Mamluks completed their day with two easy wins to go 5-0.
Final score: Mamluks - 22, Sultans - 9 Star of the Game - Asad Moten - Click to watch POTG Video
We are fa-mi-ly! Our team sits at Oh-and-Three! That song is awful, much like the family picnic known as the Nasrids performances thus far. They’ve lost defensive battles, they’ve lost high-scoring affairs, and they’ve lost in a blowout…to the Sultans. This can’t be for real, can it? A team with former MVP Sir Nirvaan Latif, last year’s MOP Osama Buttar, and studs Hamza Waheed and Usama Mahmood? Again, much like the Seljuqs, we’ve seen this team at their worst, and it’s only a matter of time until their best shows up. They just can’t seem to find a formula that works. Against the Abbasids, they went with three pitchers. They’ve tried guys in different positions in the field – it’s just not clicking. GM Kashif Waheed just needs to re-evaluate his squa, and put his guys in positions to succeed. When you have a defensive stalwart in Usama Mahmood at short, a quality pitching duo of Nirvaan and Hamza, and a power bat in Buttar, there’s really no excuse. Maybe the guys just need more time to gel, but they’re all family – but what if that’s the issue? Everyone is too comfortable and don’t hold one another responsible, which leads to a more lax clubhouse versus the more competitive edge seen on other teams. You have to be nice to your family, maybe that’s the issue? Regardless of what the issue is, they need to fix it, and fast. With matchups against last year’s champion Ayyubids and the also-winless Seljuqs, they have to get at least one win on the day or else they find themselves in a hole maybe too deep to climb out of.
Seljuqs (vs. Ottomans – 2:00PM BW2; @ Nasrids – 3:30 BW2)
On one side of the spectrum, you have the Seljuqs, who have been beaten, and beaten badly. However, this team has far too much talent to really expect them to perform at this level all season. They were missing first round picks Furhan Azmat and then Sameer Rafique in back-to-back weekends, leading to guys playing out of position and a lack of chemistry in the side. They’re stacked with talent, notable with Imran Merchant, Taha Iqbal and the aforementioned Rafique and Azmat. With a hopefully full squad this week, don’t be surprised to see the Birds sing a different tune. They’ve had a flurry of runs in the late innings of games, and have trouble coming out strong out of the gate. GM Ibrahim Sardar recognizes that and does see silver lining in them closing games strong despite them being out of reach. It’s a far better scenario then being dejected in big losses. The teams have something to build on, but they just haven’t put it together yet. The task doesn’t get any easier this week, with a matchup against the Ottomans to kick off the day. If they can’t get the monkey off their back in game one, they face fellow winless team Nasrids in game two, which will have both teams seething for a win if remain winless after their first encounters.
Straight up, the Mamluks look DEADLY. They’ve been amazing defensively, they have been piling on the runs, and The Regulator can actually pitch. Jibran Waqar’s been putting up Jibran numbers; the Chaudhry brothers are doing work in the outfield as expected; but, how about this Shahzad Ahmed kid. Twenty-five players were taken before him. TWENTY-FIVE. He was a fourth round pick! GM Rizvan Merchant saw very little of the boy from Ajax, and took a gamble on him in the fourth round that paid off. He was high on the Ottomans list, with Shahzad being Faisal Khan’s cousin and all, and the boys in Navy didn’t think anyone would touch him until he fell to them in the fourth round. But Rizzy reached, risked and got rewarded. He’s been solid at third base and has been tattooing the ball out of the park. He hit homeruns that cleared the train tracks on his first two at bats. Do you realize how far those train tracks are? No really, do you? Do me a favour and walk out to the train tracks before your game next week (don’t go on the tracks, that’s illegal). Then you’ll see how far that really is. The Green Machine looks unstoppable right now, and many GMs tabbed them as favourites coming into the season. The scary thing is they look even better than we thought they would. If Riz keeps finding the plate and his team keeps playing like this, we’ll be saying a lot more than “contenders” by the end of the season. They face a major test in the Mughals in game one of their weekend doubleheader, and follow it up with a date with the Sultans.
That letter was figuratively penned by the Stallions after their 19-3 drubbing of the Nasrids sans their GM. The team absolutely annihilated their opposition and was clicking on all cylinders. However, that win is the only bright spot on a poor start to the season, and the boys in white look to turn their fortunes around this weekend. They have an ace on the mound in Tanseer Khawaja, and they have the bash brothers in Suhail Taji and W K that can turn any game with one swing of the bat. However, the biggest surprise has been Zain Malik (not that one). Malik joined the Ayyubids late and never lost a game with the boys in black on his way to championship glory. He’s brought great offense into the lineup for the Sultans and we expect him to continually provide a punch just after the heart of the lineup. Trust me, this won’t be the last time you hear his name in the rumours. With GM Amir Khalil making his way back into the side for this weekend’s doubleheader, it will be interesting to see which version of the Sultans show up. The demolition crew we saw against the Nasrids, or the meek lineup we saw in their losses. If I was a betting man, I would say this isn’t the last time we’ve seen an offensive outburst like that from this squad, but the question remains as to whether they can do it week in and week out. The Sultans face a tough doubleheader against two big offenses in the Abbasids and the Mamluks this weekend.
Nasrids v Sultans: To begin the day, the Sultans began the day looking for vengence after a disappointing opening week. They started off hot, putting up crooked numbers in each inning. Hamza Waheed was looking for a second great start but was rocked early by Sultans hitting for 19 runs in 4 innings. The Nasrids offense only put together 3 runs in 5 innings to get mercied by the Sultans. Zain Malik had a brilliant game going 3-3 with 2 doubled and 5 RBIs to earn player of the game honours.
Final Score: Nasrids - 3, Sultans - 14 Star of the Game - Zain Malik
Final Score: Abbasids - 10, Ottomans - 13 Star of the Game - Shaheen Limbada - Click to watch POTG Video
Final Score: Sultans - 3, Ottomans- 14 Stars of the Game - Rehan Ahmad - Click to watch POTG Video
Final Score: Nasrids - 16, Abbasids - 18 Star of the Game - Kashif Irshad - Click to watch POTG Video
Mamluks v Ayyubids: The late game featured green against black. This one started off as a defensive matchup with only 3 runs through the first three innings. The Mamluks blew the game open with a 5 run 7th inning courtesy of Mohamed Kala's 3 run homerun. The Ayyubids had their chance in the final inning with 1 run across and men on base but couldn't get the clutch hitting. The Mamluks showed depth without two of their stars to get this big victory. Mohahmed Kala was the start with his first career homerun.
Final score: Mamluks - 11, Ayyubids - 7 Star of the Game - Mohamed Kala - Click to watch POTG Video
Mughals v Seljuqs: InIn a highly anticipated battle, the Mughals got off a flash start putting up 7 runs in the top of the first. GM Zahid Merchant started the game with his first career BSL homerun something many thought would never happen. The Mughals through 4 innings led 17-0 and had the Seljuqs down to their final strike for the mercy and shutout but they couldn't close the deal. The Seljuqs showed a lot of fight to put up 4 runs when down to their last out to force a 6th inning with Yasser Zia and Fuzail Thakur hitting homeruns. The Mughals would add 3 and the Seljuqs 2 before the final 20-6.
Final score: Mughals - 20, Seljuqs - 6 Star of the Game - Zahid Merchant
Seljuqs v Mamluks: InThe final game of the night on diamond 1 had the Seljuqs looking to carry momentum from their last game over. The Mamluks took control early with a 6 run first inning and never looked back. The Seljuqs finally got some runs in the 5th inning but the Mamluks already had 15 runs by then. Jibran Waqar and Shahzad Ahmed had homeruns but Umair Shaikh went 3-3 for player of the game honours.
Final score: Seljuqs - 5, Mamluks - 16 Star of the Game - Umair Shaikh - Click to watch POTG Video
Ayyubids v Mughals: BothThe final game of the night was a dandy. Both teams had their offense going and were smacking the ball all over the park. The Ayyubids got out to an early 8-3 lead and kept adding runs but the Mughals fought back late in the game with a 7 run 6th inning to tie the game. Mohsin Zubair had a break out game with 2 homeruns. With the game on the line, Hasan Afzal came through with a clutch 2 run double and Yousaf Chaudhry hit a homerun to give the Ayyubids a 4 run lead. The Mughals got back 2 runs in the bottom of the 7th and had 2 men on with nobody out. Unfortunately for them, Mohsin grounded into a fielders choice, Randy flew out and Jibran grounded out to end the game. The Ayyubids held off the Mughals for the victory in dramatic fashion. Hasan Afzal got player of the game for his clutch double at the end.
Final score: Ayyubids - 17, Mughals - 15 Star of the Game - Hasan Afzal
The Stallions stumbled out the gate after suffering a defeat at the hands of the Mughals last week. The men in white had high expectations for the season and have implemented mandatory practices for the squad. Amir’s men struggled offensively, mustering only one extra base hit on second overall pick Tanseer Khawaja’s homerun. The Sultans will need to find their offence heading into this week with difficult matchups against the Nasrids and Ottomans. The Stallions have decent pop in their lineup but need guys like Suhail Taji and Waseem Kala to bring their hot bats this Sunday. Rumour is the Sultans held out on using their new bat because of cold temperatures last Sunday which resulted in their lackluster offensive performance. In their first matchup against the Nasrids, there will be plenty on the line as both teams are 0-1 and missed the playoffs last year. Both teams will be looking to change their fortunes this Sunday. Reports have found out that both teams might be missing crucial players, with GM Amir Khalil away this weekend. They face the Ottomans in the second half of their double header. The Sultans will need a significantly better performance this Sunday if they want to sweep both matchups.
Ottomans (vs. Abbasids – 2:00PM BW2; vs. Sultans – 3:30 BW1)
The Ottomans started off their season last Sunday in convincing fashion. The Turks showed their defensive rating was undervalued in the preseason write up and proved that with only 2 errors on Sunday. Newly acquired ace A K pitched a stellar game only allowing 5 runs and was the only pitcher not to give up a homerun last week. The Ottomans high powered offense was gun-shy last week but that probably won’t be the case again this Sunday. Rehan Ahmad started his season off with a solid outing that included his first homer of the season. The Ottomans had three additional home runs along with Rehan’s (Shaheen Limbada, Hashim Ghazi and Shoaib Gaya) but only 3 counted due to the home-run difference rule. The Ottomans took offence to their preseason ratings and let the rest of the league know it. They will be facing two of the better pitchers in the league in Omair Zuberi and Tanseer Khawaja this Sunday. In their first matchup against the Abbasids, they will be facing the team they defeated in the wild card game last year so you can expect the Abbasids to be up for that. Both teams have plenty of firepower and will probably come down to which pitcher can keep the ball in the park. In their second matchup, they will be facing the Sultans who they dismantled all last season, but appear ready to bounce back and change their fortunes. The Ottomans seem to have the Sultans number in the last two years and will be looking to continue that trend this Sunday.
The green machine made a lot of statements last Sunday and put the rest of the league on alert. Firstly, Rizvan Merchant proved that he is no pushover on the mound. He only allowed one walk and two homeruns in his debut, but his team’s offensive prowess stole the show. They hit a record five homeruns on Sunday. 4th round pick Shahzad Ahmed had the entire ballpark buzzing after hitting two homeruns onto the train tracks – a BSL first. We knew they had homerun power in Jibran but Hassan, Omer and Shahzad all showed they can go yard as well. Teams will be looking at their bottom order and looking to exploit them. The only weakness the Mamluks showed last week was on defence. They gave up 7 errors, most of which were in the infield. They will be looking to clean that up this Sunday. They open the week with a tasty matchup against the Ayyubids. There is plenty of familiarity there with friends Umair Jabbar, Zain Khilji, and Yasser Malik all playing for the opposition. Both teams are coming off big wins so someone will be walking away humbled. The Mamluks then take on the Seljuqs. The Mamluks will either be coming in on a high or a low after their first matchup and will probably not show any mercy to the Seljuqs pitching.
Final Score: Seljuqs - 7, Ayyubids 18 Star of the Game - Umair Jabbar
Abbasids v Mamluks: In the second matchup of the day, everyone expected a tight game. Both teams showed firepower early with homeruns by both teams. Hammad Afif hit a monster shot in his first BSL at-bat. Shahzad Ahmed for the Mamluk one upped him with 2 homeruns in his first two BSL at-bats. The Mamluks hit a total of 5 homeruns on the day with Jibran Waqar, Hassan Chaudhry, and Omer Chaudhry also going yard. Rizvan Merchant had a great day going 3-3 and also picking up a win in his first pitching performance. The player of the game honour belonged to Shahzad Ahmed who finished 3-3 with 5 RBIs.
Final Score: Abbasids - 12, Mamluks 21 Star of the Game - Shahzad Ahmed - Click to watch POTG Video
Ottomans v Nasrids: In a matchup of the two elite hitters from last year, we expected plenty of offence but this turned out to be a defensive stalemate. The Ottomans got on the board early on a Rehan Ahmad homerun but failed to score anything else for the new two innings. The Nasrids finally got on the board in the second inning to take a one run lead. In the 4th inning, the Turks took control on a pair of homeruns from Shaheen Limbada and Hashim Ghazi to 6-2. The teams would trade two run innings but the Ottomans defence and pitching closed out the game. A K had a brilliant pitching performance for the Ottomans only allowing 5 runs to a dangerous Nasrids offence.
Final Score: Ottomans- 8, Nasrids - 5 Star of the Game - A K
Sultans v Mughals: The final game of the night came after all the hoopla and big hits in the afternoon. The rain and cold was gone and now white v blue in the late game. The Mughals jumped out to an early 5-0 lead in the first inning and were up 9-1 by the 3rd. Tanseer Khawaja helped his own cause by hitting a three-run homerun to bring the Sultans back within striking distance. However, they kept stranding runners every inning without clutch hits. The Mughals followed that up with a big 4th and 6th inning to put the game away. Ismail Akhter had a homerun in his debut and Atif Akhtar hit a triple and a homerun for player of the game honours.
Final Score: Sultans- 7, Mughals - 21 Star of the Game - Atif Akhtar
GM Zahid Merchant shocked the entire draft room by overlooking Sameer Rafique and Zain Khilji in acquiring former rival Mohammed Ali Pasha at 5th overall. Some speculate that it was only so they wouldn’t have to hear his chirping from the other bench – if there’s chirping at least it’ll go the other way. The Mughals then proceeded to bring back their formidable core of Faraaz Alvi, Atif Akhtar, Rafique Choudhury, Randy Panesar and Jibran Khan. The team also extended a 1-year deal to returning Mughal Asim Qurayshi who has already announced retirement after this season. The Mughals gambled on an early round pick on the relatively unknown Ismail Akhter, and grabbing a promising later rounder Mohsin Zubair. Maybe they knew something the rest of the league didn’t but those picks could either make or break their season if they don’t pan out. Mughal pedigree is all about consistency that has been impressive over the last two seasons after coming one hit away from returning to the finals. With an aging core of players, they’ll be hoping it doesn’t catch up to them.
Rarely is continuity a strength but this squad has 6 guys who are playing together for the third straight year. Their core group doesn’t consist of any superstars like other teams but they have guys that know how to win and come through in the clutch. The Mughals have always had pitching and outfield as their strength and this season is probably no different. Pitcher and GM Zahid Merchant has led the league in wins and ERA in each of the last two season. There was a rumor brewing that he was leaving the mound but it seems management vetoed that self-destructive idea pretty quick.
The Mughals once again have an average infield without any big names. They have been able to get by without it over the last two seasons but competition gets tougher year by year, it might finally catch up to them. With one of the oldest teams in the league, double-headers might prove too cumbersome for those old legs late in games. The Mughals got off to a slow start last year before they found their mojo but they won't be able to afford the same false start this year.
GM Amir Khalil was on a mission to turn his franchise around after a dismal second season. The Sultans lacked the fire and passion of the 2014 squad. Management had decided it was time to take a page from the past and bring back the bad boys of 2014. They swung a crucial deal to move up in the draft to get the stalwart ace and leader Tanseer Khawaja. The Sultans then used the next four picks to re-unite Waseem Kala, Ahmed Ramadan, Aftab Sheikh, and Noor Sheikh. The core is back and now they were looking to finish what they started in 2014. The Sultans then selected friends Shamil Khadaroo and Zain Malik, picked up late rounder MIP candidate Zayd Ramjaun and took their chances in acquiring newbie Atif Parvaiz. The Stallions suddenly have a deep squad, at least enough to satisfy their 2015 lone super star, Suhail Taji.
On paper, the Sultans look like they have a decent infield with Ali Nazir, Suhail Taji, Ahmed Ramadan and Noor Sheikh in the dirt. However, their outfield lacks a gold glover to cut the grass. Amir Khalil is coming off injury and Waseem Kala isn’t known for his defensive prowess. It’s assumed Aftab Sheikh and Zain Malik will be in the outfield but neither of them have great speed. The outfield will be heavily dependent on Amir being healthy and running at full speed to chase down balls.
Keys to success:
Nasrid GM Kashif Waheed, wasted no time dispensing his late first round pick, acquiring Seljuq assistant GM, Nirvaan Latif. Nirvaan is looking to revive those 2014 MVP numbers, and along with second round pick N K, expect both to play pivotal roles on a revamped Nasrids squad. Kashif then proceeded to pick up family and friends to fill out the rest of their roster with Hamza Waheed, Akif Waheed, Asim Waheed, Bilal Javed, Ali Wadee, and Taqi Ahmed. This roster should be called the Waheedy bunch – don’t confuse with ‘Wahabi’ ; ) It remains to be seen whether Hamza Waheed will be their starting pitcher or will ‘Sir’ Nirvaan take the mound? The Nasrids also secured former Ottoman ace Zia Ali late in the draft but there is no news whether he will be given the nod as the starter. Game 1 is around the corner and the Nasrids see themselves one player short . New acquisition Ali Wadee had to withdraw from the league without even making his debut with a knee injury. We wish him a speedy recovery. The Nasrids have opted to replace him with 19-year old Omar Husain, son of former player Raza Husain. The Spaniards did some decent drafting getting majority of the players they wanted but it begs the question, will they be strong enough to compete every week?
This lineup has no shortage of power bats but where are the contact hitters. We all know that Nirvaan and Osman can both go yard every game and despite N K’s underwhelming 2015 season, he’s a potent presence in this dynamic line up. Add veterans Usama Mahmood and Kashif Waheed to the mix and this team will be a long ball threat every single game. This team might be the most improved as the season goes on, now that the family can practice together every week. The outfield looks well covered with four solid outfielders in Kashif Waheed, Osman Buttar, N K and Nirvaan Latif.
The Nasrids clubhouse remains hush-hush on who will be pitching for them this season. If Hamza takes the mound, their outfield is solid with Nirvaan in the grass. However, if Nirvaan takes the mound, their outfield might suffer. With almost every team upgrading their offence, this will be the toughest decision facing the Nasrids. Apart from Usama at SS, the infield’s a toss-up. Bilal Javed significantly improved last season but Taqi Ahmed and Omar Husain are newbies that will have to be up to par.
The mighty Ottomans were humbled last season in a disappointing semi-final defeat to the eventual champions - the Ayyubids. Despite having one the best offenses in the league, the Ottomans suffered from lack of consistent pitching and defense. We expected a drastic change in draft strategy from the navies but they surprised everyone by bringing back 8 of their players from last year. They took the obvious choice in Mike Arlitt first round but surprised everyone by taking Shoaib Bhatti in the second followed by family friend Faisal Khan. Everyone was waiting to see which pitcher the Ottomans would go for this year. No one could have expected A K to be their choice as a starter. GM Hashim and bunch, then picked up Zain Fancy, Shoaib Gaya and Furhan Hoda from last year’s squad. Hamza Hussain and Junaid Mirza join the Turks for the first time to complete the 12 man squad. Ottomans management believes last years' squad was championship material and will be hoping a few minor changes gets them back to the top of league.
The Ottomans have always struggled filling in third base. They went through multiple people last year and it seems the nod for the starting position is still up for grabs. While Michael Arlitt and Shaheen Limbada are spectacular outfielders, the rest of the outfield has question marks around it, and it remains to be seen who patrols the right side of the grass. If you compare this squad to last year’s, they look very similar; therefore expecting a different outcome will be a challenge. If there’s any promising change, newly acquired starting pitcher A K will have to shoulder most of it. Despite his pitching tenure being limited to last place teams, the Ottomans will be hoping A K is an upgrade over their last year’s pitcher and will be able to keep his composure in pressure situations.
Keys to success:
GM Rizvan Merchant might have won the first overall pick in the draft but gladly threw it away for Taher ‘Super’-Mirza to complete the Bordertown’s best. The green machine then added bordertown big brother Omer Chaudhry to coarsen their core and then added the ‘other’ big bat in Shahzad Ahmed to give them some homerun prowess from third base. The luks smoothed out their squad by embracing quality and character to the team with Mohamed Kala and Asad Moten. Three lawyers on their team will give them plenty of legal representation when Rizvan’s excessive chatter puts him in the press. The Mamluks got a steal in Riyad Ramjaun in the 7th round to give them a pitching option and later pocketed some great value for Baseer Yasseen and Sikandar Aftab late in the draft.
The top 5 of the Mamluks order will have any pitcher caught in 2 minds as these batters can dictate how far the ball goes. The Mamluks batting lineup looks deep and should produce a potent amount of runs throughout the season. Their outfield will cover a lot of green with Hassan Chaudhry, Taher Mirza, Omer Chaudhry and Mohamed Kala manning the grass while Jibran Waqar will be pivotal in the infield to help support some new talent in the dirt. The Mamluks have a core who play together regularly so they should benefit from consistency and synergy. Taher has the ability to switch places with Jibran in the infield when they need the extra speed and whip.
The Mamluks have some questions at the mound this season. Rumour is, Rizvan will be taking the responsibility himself this year and has Riyad as insurance in case 'the regulator' runs into trouble. Riyad was a great find late in the draft and might be a steal if he wins the starting pitching job which allows Riz to play in the field. The rest of the infield is unproven with a few guys playing in the league for the first time. Shahzad Ahmed will have to show he can play the hot corner every week.
The Abbasids of 2016 have shaken things up once again, this time starting with a new GM Ahmad Hussain. Using his obsession with the once-upon-a-time Expos, Ahmad has tapped into former ‘Montrealers’ to make up half of the Abbasids. With 6 returning players, the Abbasids are looking to redeem themselves from a very disappointing loss in the first round playoffs to the Ottomans. On that note, caution to all new players – DO NOT – step on home plate! The Abbasids surprised everyone by waiving rights to Umair Jabbar and Sameer Rafique and favour adopting those to Rameez Siddiqi and Haris Mallick to shake up the entire core. Rameez suffered from ‘Kevin Durant syndrome’ last year as he was a forgotten man despite 41 RBIs and 11 homeruns after Rehan and Osman took the league by storm. The Abbasids surprised many by using their first round pick on the enlightened Omair Zuberi, who left a mark at the mound last season. Adding to the squad, Ahmad has put a lot of currency into the doctor trio and league sponsors, Hammad Afif, Kamil Haider and Kashif Irshad. If these guys are simply all sizzle and no steak, the Abbasids could find themselves as the new basement dwellers. Yes the trio are all north of 40, but rumor has it they have the real potential to catapult the Abbasids deep into the playoffs. The Abbasids continued to surprise by picking Asif Farooq and Nauman Abbasi which later proved to have childhood ties to new GM Ahmad. Back in orange for a third time are Atiq Qureshi and Saoud Ramjaun. They added Fraz Butt as a late round steal to round out their squad. There should be plenty of Habs talk on their group chat. Oh wait, there are no Habs to talk about?
The Abbasids have no clear shortstop or centerfielder to anchor the defence. Protecting the green could be a serious concern for the orange supporters as uncertainty is in the air. Haris is expected to play third and Fraz first but outside of that, it is unclear where anyone will play in the field. The Abbasids are keeping lids on this information and will perhaps, employ it to their advantage to start the season.
Keys to success:
Remember the saying ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it?’ Well someone tell that to GM Umer Jabbar. The 2015 BSL champions have done an Extreme Makeover: Jabbar Brothers Edition. If you’re wondering why Seljuqs GM Ibrahim Sardar was swift in dealing this 1st overall pick to the Ayyubids, just ask Umer how long he’s been working on his arm-twisting negotiation skills. There is some sliver of speculation that Ibrahim added a clause which promised him a year’s supply of paani puri. Who said family pressure doesn’t work?? The Ayyubids traded their two assistant GMs Imran Merchant and Taha Iqbal to the Seljuqs for first and third pick, Umair Jabbar and Ali Jabbar. Umer then convinced the Ayyubids board to allow the team to be sponsored by Shezan juice so the three brothers could appear on every mango juice box. The Ayyubids then swiftly stole former Seljuqs GM Zain Khilji in the second round and added to their outfield depth by drafting last year’s second overall pick in Aazar Zafar. Umer did bring back Atif Khan from his championship squad but it remains to be seen if he appears in the same role. Zain evidently had an impact on his new team’s drafting strategy bringing on former Seljuqs Yousaf Chaudhry, Hasan Afzal, Ahmed Butt and wanna-be Seljuq Ahmad Ammad. The men in black rounded out their squad with newbies Yasser Malik and Zaid Ghansar.
The Ayyubids have the mound and outfield in their grasp. Ali Jabbar brings experience back to the mound after a stellar rookie season. The Ayyubids put a lot of emphasis on filling their outfield after trading away one of the leagues best. An outfield of Umair Jabbar, Yousaf Chaudhry, Yasser Malik and Aazar Zafar should be one of the league’s best this season. Apart from pitching and outfield, it is hard to find any other strengths as the team on paper looks less balanced than last year, especially with the bat.
The blacks certainly have an unproven infield that will be put to test to keep the ball and their team in front of them. Zain and Atif will control the left side of the dirt and will be moving into unfamiliar positions, especially if Atif plays third base. With Umer, Ahmad or Zaid at first and second, their infield has much to demonstrate over the first few weeks of the season. Their batting lineup is built on speed and lacks a clear power hitter to drive in runs. Will they play small ball again this year or step into a grander approach?
New GM Ibrahim Sardar showed plenty of poise with his swift dealing in his new role. He wasted no time to make moves on the trade market and was by far the most active GM leading up to the draft. He traded his two assistant GMs (Taher Mirza and Nirvaan Latif) for first round picks and in return traded some of those picks to the Ayyubids to scoop up their assistant GMs Imran Merchant and Taha Iqbal. While the Seljuqs lost two of the best players in Taher and Nirvaan, no one can complain about the great package they got in return. The Seljuqs had a plan to get as many middle round picks as possible. The Seljuqs got a late first round steal in Sameer Rafique to play SS and then took leadoff hitter Furhan Azmat. The Seljuqs got solid mid-round picks in Sheraz Mahmood, A R and Arshad Chawdhry. Last year’s MIP Fauzail Thakur dropped to them as a steal in the 6th pick. The Seljuqs completed their draft taking great character guys in Asim Gauhar, Yasser Zia and Omar Huda to fill their roster. The new GM trio did their best to build their team on depth vs star-power but lost their way midway through the draft when they realized they lacked a starting pitcher. The team looks well rounded at first glance but is missing a few critical pieces.
The Seljuqs are the only team going into the season without an experienced pitcher. Taha Iqbal has pitched in a few games but will be reluctant to take the mound after mining gold at third last season. Rumour has it, A R or Fuzail will be pitching for the reds this year which is a huge gamble no matter how much they have been practicing in the offseason. Aside from GM Ibrahim Sardar and Imran Merchant, their outfield is unproven. Between Fuzail, Furhan and Asim, someone will have to take their fielding to another level to complete the outfield and compete this season.
Keys to success:
Check out their profile page to see their awards
Most Improved Player: Fuzail Thakur - Ayyubids
Brotherhood Award: Hamza Waheed - Abbasids
Gold Glove Award: C - Furhan Hoda, 1B - Fraz Butt, 2B - Arsalan Shahid 3B - Taha Iqbal, SS - Jibran Waqar, P - Ali Jabbar,
OF - Imran Merchant, OF - Osman Buttar, OF - Taher Mirza, OF - Hassan Chaudhry
Batting Title: Jibran Waqar - Mamluks
All-star Game MVP: Shaheen Limbada - Ottomans
Strike Out Champion: Omair Zuberi - Mamluks
Homerun Title: Osman Buttar- Nasrids
Best Pitcher Award: Tanseer Khawaja - Seljuqs
Best Offensive Player: Osman Buttar - Nasrids
Regular Season MVP: Rehan Ahmad - Ottomans
Playoff MVP: Taha Iqbal - Ayyubids