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2017 Wild Card 2 & Semi-Final 2 Rumours

Playoff weekend is finally here. Last week we previewed the right side of the bracket that included the Seljuqs, Mamluks and Mughals. This week we focus on the left side of the bracket with the Nasrids, Sultans and Ottomans. The Nasrids will take on the Sultans in the second wild card game with the winner moving on to face the #1 seed Ottomans. Let's breakdown these matchups: 

Wild Card Game #2 - Nasrids vs. Sultans  - 5:45pm Birchwood 1
 
Nasrids

The Nasrids make their first playoff appearance in what has been an exciting season for both the players and the fans. To begin the season, we really thought the outcome was as clear as the previous two, managing a lackluster 0 wins and 4 losses in as many games. This year they didn’t give up. We can look back and say the new additions to their squad definitely had an amending impact. The Nasrids were back in business when they blew up the undefeated Mughals in game #5, 17-5 and nobody saw that coming except the squad themselves as they refused to suffer the same fate of previous years. The very next game they lost their composure and points to the struggling Abbasids. Here we go again. The next week, we saw solid performances against the Ayyubids and Seljuqs where a walk-off loss forced them to go 1-1. They were starting to build on their chemistry and consistency and it showed again the very next week as they has something to prove by going 2-0 for the very first time in franchise history. Salaam Cup came around as their core of greenbirds were set to miss their games in an all-important weekend. The team responded with a 30 run record win followed by a clutch win against a performing Mamluks team the following week. The Nasrids are hosting their best squad since their inception and have proven they can beat top teams. They are playing as the underdogs at the BSL 4 playoffs.

The Nasrids have a lot of work to do if they are determined to get their hands on the prize and getting through the Sultans and Ottomans on Saturday will require their best from everyone. Nasrids’ first rounder Kamil Haider did not have the best season with his bat and will need to turn it around to push his team deeper into the playoffs. The other additions of Rookie Salman Ahmed and Sophomore Zaid Ghansar have really contributed to the Beige offense with great base-hitting and on base percentages for their clean-ups to cash in. These 3 players have made a profound impact in the squad with their performances, positivity and determination and are integral in determining how deep the Nasrids will go in the second season. The clean-up crew consists of Osman Buttar, Sir Nirvaan Latif and Usama Mahmood. Usama is on top form sweeping the infield from any trace of his opponents while turning 2 time and time again. It seems Sir Nirvaan has had back problems recently as our reporters saw him at the local Costco buying A535 in bulk. Also documented, Dr. Kamil prescribed him Naproxen so that he could mow his lawn. AK has been the go to guy on the mound and has shown he can compete with other pitchers in the league. With everything locked down, this year, the Nasrids are ready to play ball.

The Nasrids play their wildcard game against the Sultans splitting their games 1-1 during the regular season. Both games have been close with the Sultans winning the first by 3 and the Nasrids winning the second by 1. With everything on the line, each at bat and each play will affected the result. The Ottomans who they lost to both times this season, wait for them in the semifinals if they are able to get by the Sultans. Assuming their bats continue to click, the key to victory is limiting their errors, holding runners, and preventing runs that will turn into big innings. With little playoff experience in the squad, how far can the Nasrids go.


Sultans

The Sultans will definitely look back at their season and think they should have done better than a 6-7-1 record. After redefining their squad, they finished 4th in comparison to 6th last season where they snuck into the playoffs at the death. The stallions were unable to go 2-0 in any week this season and were forced to chip away at the wins column. They started off the season making a name for themselves with a walk-off homerun against the Mamluks and solid wins against the Nasrids and the Ayyubids. However, they were unable to beat the Ottomans who were deemed unstoppable from the get go. Things went downhill before the mid season tourney where the whites lost 3 consecutive games, 2 of which were to teams higher than them, the Mamluks and the Mughals. Unfortunately, they lost a won game when a game ending error allowed a Mughal to smash a walk-off homerun the next at bat. They continued to suffer more bad luck when Rafique Chowdhary dislocated his shoulder ending his unmatched season and that's when the Sultans started to play short missing players every week. Team management deserves a lot of credit for rallying up whoever they had at their disposal to finish the season respectably with 3 wins and 3 losses, 2 of which they lost by only 1 run. It seems the whole squad will be present for the playoffs including Raf who was a last minute addition to the roster and are now back to being a team that shouldn't be taken lightly.

The Sultans have game changers at their service and they will need to utilize them in full this second season as the climb to reign victorious is not in their favour. Although they split their games against the Nasrids, their wildcard match up, the Stallions went 1 for 6 against the top 3 teams in the regular season and lost to the mamluks in the mid-season tourney. After analyzing their games we can conclude that their defense were one-step behind their opponents but now that they have options again with players returning for the playoffs, we may see a different side to the whites. Offensively the Sultans always look threatening, especially with the likes of Shahzad Ahmed in the lineup. The bats of GM Shamil Khadaroo, Akif Waheed and Zain Malik have been great assets to the club to move through the lineup and cash in a good number of RBIs. Although Taher Mirza had a very average season with his bat, he remains the staple in the outfield making plays as if he's wearing a jet pack. He does require a tire change or 2 for those who get it. Speaking of staple, Tanseer 'robocop' Khawaja is a great pitcher to have in the playoffs as his experience and composure gives him an edge over batters in a pressure filled format called the playoffs. Raf is the team's shortstop and second powerhouse but how healthy he is after his injury remains a question on how well he and his team will perform.

The Sultans take on the Nasrids who have been in great form as of late and there will be no room for a slow start. Although they looked better than the Nasties (the Sultans have salty names for each team) in the regular season, the playoffs are a whole 'nother ball game. If they can undo their wildcard knot, they will face the Ottomans for the right to move on to the finals. They lost both games by a close margin to the Ottomans so they will feel they have a chance against the top seed. The key to their success is their defense and making all routine plays will help them stay closer to the prize than having to rely on the bats to carry all the weight.

 
Semi-final #2 - Nasrids/Sultans vs. Ottomans - 7:45pm Birchwood 1

Ottomans


The Ottomans are the favorites. After 3 years of living in the shadows of champions, they look to be the ones who make the shadow. After such a dominant season, it could all mean nothing if they can't do it again in the playoffs. Since draft day, we knew this team was an offensive powerhouse but we didn't expect this much power. After just the first week they had the league anxious about facing them and they continued to steam roll any team that sat in the opposite dugout. 4 weeks later we saw the Ottomans on mount first place, 8-0, undefeated and unforgiving. After the midseason break, the Turks came down to where we could see them, losing to both the Mamluks and the Mughals on Birchwood 1 and suddenly the Ottomans were beatable. It turned out to be one bad week as they started the roller again and gave it some steam finishing with a convincing 12-2 record. That record says enough about their chances at the cup this year.

We already know the Ottomans are amazing this year and Rehan Ahmad had a record breaking season and all so let's just put all that aside and they still have some minor weaknesses that can be exploited. It won't be easy to stop this train. It's a given the Ottomans will score runs with so many batting options in the lineup . The long ball is no issue as the team hit 42 homeruns combined, more than any team in BSL history. A lot of the boys in navy are having career years and it really reflects in their record. What about Sameer Rafique? I don't need to say it. Sameer and Atif Khan anchor the left side of the infield while Shaheen Limbada and Rehan patrol behind them. Talk about a stacked team. No team however, is covered in pure gold as the Otto-management know about their vulnerabilities very well and will look to steer their opponents away from them or compensate accordingly. The right side of the field is not nearly as consistent as the left but can't be considered a weakness. Zia 'Doc' Baig has really held the mound for the Otto-bots as they assembled their best season at BSL and relieved their everlasting pitching woes. His custom however is to give up a couple free-bees especially in tight situations that could cost them. The Ottomans have only run into a deficit twice this season and look to keep it that way to recolour the BSL logo in Navy and Red.

The Ottomans await either the Nasrids or the Sultans in the semis, both of who suffered sweeps at their hands this season but had to fight for it against the Sultans. They will feel pretty comfortable in either match up as they contrast the strengthens and weaknesses of both teams against theirs. The key to victory is to not feel the pressure of the big game and base hit when needed before going for the fences. The Ottomans might already be preparing for the finals. 


The playoffs are finally here! See everyone on Saturday!