Week 8 Rumours

[written by: Aamir Husainy/Saad Gaya/Shahzad Ahmed/Taha Iqbal    |    edited by Hashim Ghazi]
We head into the penultimate week of the season with four games left to play. Only one team has been eliminated and no playoff seeds have been secured yet. Expect plenty of drama this Sunday. Before we get into the rumours, we had two transactions completed before the roster deadline last Sunday:
  • Ottomans trade Owais Ansari & Kashif Waheed to the Mughals for Hassan Chaudhry & Aqib Khokhar
  • Sultans have Saoud Ramjaun drop out due to injury and replace him with Omar Khan
Also, this Sunday, the Sultans will be raising money for their team charity, Hospital for Sick Children. Sultans will be selling two beef patties and Mood water for $5. Please come prepared. 
Ottomans (vs. Mamluks – 2:00PM BW1; @ Nasrids – 3:30PM BW1)
Have you ever heard Taha Iqbal's legendary roar while crossing home plate? That was the reaction that everyone had after Hashim Ghazi's incredible catch, complete with barrel roll, in right field on a laser beam line drive by the Mughal’s Faraaz Alvi (who would later get his revenge in his next at-bat by hitting a three-run shot to put the game out reach). However, unfortunately for the Ottomans, the team had trouble putting together additional momentum to produce any wins last Sunday.  Iqbal had a pair of big home runs, but the Turks were unable to come through against the Mughals in a match up with tons of intrigue after a monster two-for-two deal that saw three of the four traded players suit up against their new teams.  The last of the traded players, Hassan Chaudhry, is set to make his much anticipated debut this coming weekend in Royal Blue, with Randy Panesar returning from very commendable relief work trip in Africa. Aqib Khokhar was also sent to the Ottomans in the deal, and he made his entrance loud and clear as he went yard against his former team, and also made a huge outfield assist in left field.  Rehan Ahmed had somewhat of an unprecedented week, hitting 3/9. If I were an opponent though, I would be more afraid than relieved, because this MVP is probably going to come out breathing fire. The Ottomans will look to make a push for first place, or at least secure a bye in the first round of the playoffs. It won't be too easy though, as they play the top ranked Mamluks, and a Nasrids team that has the talent to cause an upset. This is a big week for the Ottomans, and perhaps even bigger for the league standings!
Mamluks (@ Ottomans – 2:00PM BW1; @ Ayyubids – 3:30PM BW2)
What is the secret behind the Mamluks’ success this year? Well, it has something to do with how they’ve performed on the field, but a big factor is how they’ve managed to keep their WhatsApp group mum. With Umair Sheikh and Hassan Chaudhry moving on, the only messages now on the Mamluks’ WhatsApp group are forwarded chappal sale promotions from GM Rizvan Merchant. It is understood that last post on the group was three weeks ago when Jibran Waqar forwarded a promotion on Fair & Lovely. The Mamluks are sitting at the perch going into the penultimate week and they have done so without much hoopla. While everyone expected the Mamluks to be good this season, their clinical performances have far exceeded everyone’s expectations. Their bats have been consistent, but their pitching is what has set them apart. Rizzy the Regulator is leading in almost every the pitching category, including an ERA which is more than two runs lower than second best. If anything, a negative for the team has been Salman Ahmad struggling to put up similar numbers to his successful rookie campaign. He was heard reassuring his teammates that a cricketer is never out of it – don’t be surprised if he turns his fortunes around in the final two weeks of the regular season. With a playoff spot already guaranteed and a bye all but confirmed, the Mamluks will try to lock-down the top spot going in to September. They face the Ottomans, fighting for the top spot themselves and looking to get realigned after running astray last week, and the Ayyubids, who look to turn a corner and take the Greens down.  
Nasrids (vs. Ottomans – 3:30PM BW1; vs. Ayyubids – 5:00PM BW1)
Run Forest Run. The Nasrids enter the second last week of the BSL Season Five in sixth place, losing out the number 5 spot on run differential. They stand on flimsy ground and need to get create some safe distance to protect their spot in the playoffs from the Seljuqs. The Spaniards played the bottom two teams in the league last week, but only came out with one win. Word on the street is that Ibrahim Sardar is looking for a barber during this Hajj season to chop off his hair in an attempt to throw off his opponents. He has been a bright spot on the mound for the Greyhounds, and shows why he’s one of the most versatile players in the League. However, he might need more than a new haircut to prevent that big LP (losing pitcher) beside his name while playing the Ottomans and Ayyubids this week. Both teams have outperformed the Nasrids over the season, but if other players can back up Osman Buttar with the bat, this might be the week for the Nasrids to get ahead and recapture that late season glory they offered last year. Team members have also requested Imam Saab Salar Rasoul to add the team to the masjid dua request list at Jumah. If you suddenly see this team actually catching every lollipop pop-fly in their outfield, you’ll know why.  The Nasrids need to rekindle their flame to avoid their freefall, and if they can pull off a pair of Ws this weekend, they will be right where they want to be heading into September – playoff-bound.

Ayyubids (vs. Mamluks – 3:30PM BW2; @ Nasrids – 5:00PM BW1)
‘You can’t ascribe our fall from grace to any single event or set of circumstances. You can’t lose what you lacked at conception.’ -James Ellroy
It will be up to the Ayyubids themselves to decide whether the above plays out to be true or not.  Which team are they?  The world beaters who at one point boasted the top spot in the league with a 7-1 record with the only loss coming on a walk-off that had half the league shook at facing them, or the post-Hulk Bruce Banner-ish team that has reached their peak and has the other half of the League claiming they were overrated? GM Umer ‘Gulaab Jamun’ Jabbar must be in shock, unable to believe what has transpired in the last two weeks of play; but he knows, along with the rest of the league, that this team is not to be slept on. Coming off another disastrous week, they have serious work to do if they want to build some momentum going into the playoffs. This team still boasts top of the league talent in players like Umair ‘The Intrepid’ Sheikh who fearlessly sits in the top five for both AVG and OBP, and ‘Angry’ Ahmad Ammad, who grips the bat like he’s going to deliver a beating, swings to kill every time, and also leads the team in Hits, Home Runs and RBIs.  AGM and Pitcher Ali ‘The Accurate’ Jabbar has been phenomenal on the mound, keeping batters guessing while he sits second in Wins and ERA, and coming through when the team needs him with either a K or a hit of his own. This last week didn’t have many bright spots, but the team should try to build off of the positives experienced, such as the Faiz ‘The Prize’ Kalyani going 4-5 on the day (and who is one of the nicest people in the league…if he ever developed a mean streak and stopped smiling a la Dwight Howard, he could be lethal), and ‘Jabbin’ Jibran Khan for punching a ball out of BW1. Expectations should be to build on these performances and not look back. Facing the always dangerous Mamluks and Nasrids this weekend will be a true test for this squad’s contender status. A lineup shuffle may be called for as more is expected from their killers like Imran ‘Milton’s Maniac’ Merchant and Mo ‘The Mercenary’ Kala. These “0-fer” games cannot happen for their studs if the Ayyus expect to win their 2nd league title. If they right the ship, cover your ears as you’ll hear the team howling like wolves after victory: ‘AYYUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!”
Abbasids (vs. Mughals – 5:00PM BW2; @ Seljuqs – 6:30PM BW2)
Playing for Pride. The difficult season continued for the Abbasids last week with back-to-back mercy losses. Having been mathematically eliminated from contention, the question becomes: will this team even muster the courage to show-up and perform for a single win on the season? If there was ever a moment in BSL history for a team to play for something more than just a potential championship, this would be it. The Abbasids have had some great moments this season but unfortunately, for one reason or another, have not been able to get the W. No, it’s no longer about having fun and no longer about the spirit of the game - it’s now about chasing that ghost once and for all before the season ends and avoiding being remembered in history for the worst of reasons. Four games remain, meaning that a potential 8 points are up for grabs to propel the Abbasids from last place. All of this has been said before so it’s time for the men in orange to simply let their game speak. We often commend the character of this team, and if there is any time for that character to shine and play their heart out for respect, now is the time. This week’s matchups include a perfect opportunity to do so, as they play a flailing Seljuqs team that is as consistent as a Freedom mobile connection. Players like 'Mr. Nice Guy' Neal Irfan, who skip happening house parties for the sake of their families, must now show their meaner side and pull out that homerun swing displayed earlier in the season. The second matchup against the Mughals will be no easy task, but if Fuzail Thakur can bring home the win against the O.G Ziggy, the season may end on a high note. Good Luck Boys, show us what you got!
Mughals (@ Abbasids – 5:00PM BW2; vs. Sultans – 6:30PM BW1)
Don't panic. The Mughals are here, and they are fine. The Boys of Baby Blue came out like royalty on week 7 on the heels of a blockbuster deal where they welcomed Owais Ansari and Kashif Waheed to the Badshahs. Both players contributed to the Mughals in a big way, as they made their way comfortably up the playoff ranks and moved from 6th to a cool 4th place. They also had a big week 7 performance from Atif Parvaiz who went 4/4 in a marquee match-up.  Faraaz Alvi also had a clutch performance, bopping a big home run as the Mughals are squashing any doubt that they belong in the playoffs and are ready to defend their title. GM Zahid Merchant is probably tapping his fingers together in his ice bath as he looks forward to the Mughals week 8 match up against the Abbasids and Sultans. The Badshahs need to continue rolling and not take anything for granted, as they play the Abbasids in a potential trap game. Additionally, the Sultans are finally boasting a complete team, and look as dangerous as ever. However, the Mughals are hoping that by completing their own team through trade, they will be right there with the rest of the big boys. Look for an intense, action-packed week up ahead!  
Sultans (@ Mughals – 6:30PM BW1; @ Seljuqs – 8:00PM BW1)
If you don’t recognize the Sultans version of Eye Of The Tiger, then get out more!  The Rallyin’ Stallions have chosen the perfect time to come together as a unit. The #SultansRevengeTour came through as underdogs against the Ayyubids and Ottomans last week where they served up both a mercy game to the Ayyus and an L to the Ottos.  This was all made possible because of the performances of: star leading man Kamil ‘The Hero’ Haider, who went 4-4 and 3-4 and was robbed of a Player Of The Game Award in game 1 and also ran to the rescue of a fallen comrade when he awkwardly slid into second base; Shaheen ‘The Machine’ Limbada with a perfect game 1 and 6-8 day overall, running around the bases and field without fatigue like a terminator; and ‘Zealous’ Zain Malik whose dedication and loyalty is unparalleled and is experiencing his best success in his new home in the lineup with shots down the line like he was partying with LMFAO and Lil’ Jon. Khizer ‘Don’t Change The Channel’ Channa, along with his brother also on board for a shortened (surprise, surprise) Sultans squad, formed The ‘Channa’i Express and choo-choo’d all the way to home plate for runs. The return of GM Shamil ‘The Shepherd’ Khadaroo helped herd the team together and ensure they were all on the same page for this crucial portion of the season.  Ace AK ‘47’ was gunning down strikes and touching parts of the plate that the plate community is calling offensive and inappropriate. His presence is an absolute necessity for a deep Sultans run to the championship. That run includes – wait…WAIT…This just in.  BREAKING NEWS:  For the first time this year, The Manly Mustangs will field a full team!!! *Violins blaring, doves flying, flowers blooming* The Sultans welcome Omar ‘Incognito’ Khan from the BSL Nights league as a replacement for Saoud Ramjaun who was forced to withdraw from the League (we hope to see him next year iA). Will his experience there and in fantasy sports help? Tune in to find out. Now, back to our regularly scheduled rumours – upcoming matchups against the Mughals and Seljuks. The Mughals are trending upwards, led by GM Zahid ‘The Zenith’ Merchant, who is currently sitting at his most powerful and earned his nickname after two unexpected wins (in which he was striking out some of the best hitters in BSL history), is looking to continue to build on what was achieved last week…especially after the Investigations Unit of The BSL Bugle caught exclusive footage of the special dua request by the Commish to his AGM Nadeem ‘Haji’ Hussein: ‘Ya Parvardigaar, please don’t let us lose by more 5-7 runs. Ameen.’  The Seljuqs however, are experiencing a season of ups and downs under rookie GM Umair ‘The Hair’ Jabbar. With a chance that a team he’s a part of will miss the playoffs for the third straight year, it is possible that the documentary titled “Umair: No Jabbar Jadoo” may be greenlit and set for filming this September. The return of ‘Thunderin’ Taqi Ahmed and ‘Hustlin’ Hassan Chaudhary 2.0 with their speed and base running ability are going to be relied on heavily as they are integral pieces of the puzzle that, when finished, looks like the Championship Trophy. The Sultans sit back, surveying, observing…’AND THEY’RE WATCHING US ALL WITH THE EYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYE…OF THE SULTAAAAAAAAANS…’
Seljuqs (vs. Abbasids – 6:30PM BW2; vs. Sultans – 8:00PM BW1)
While GM Umair Jabbar's 'sapno ki raani' is back, he still finds his team in a precarious position and fighting for a play-off spot. On paper, the Seljuqs seem to be one of the stronger teams, but they haven’t been able to translate that into on the field success. Their biggest problem has been consistency and stringing wins together. Hanging by a thin thread, Umair has powered up his jukebox to change their luck – next up is the 70s hit – ‘Coming Back to Life’. Hamza Waheed has been a shining light for the Seljuqs this year. His pitching has come of age lately – while he hasn’t set the stage on fire, he has performed beyond expectations and has kept the Seljuqs in most of the games. Michael Arlitt is back from his hiatus and has slotted in nicely at the top of the lineup. And although Saad G’s performance seems to be tapering off, he has led off admirably for the Reds so far. It’ll augur well for his team if he is able to replicate his performance from the start of the season – nonetheless, he’s one the leading candidates for the ‘Rookie of the Year’ award. The Seljuqs success from here on is dependent on how their bottom half of the order reacts to the situation – if they’re able to punch above their weigh-class, then expect the Seljuqs to make a strong run for playoffs. Expect Rameez Siddiqui and Zaid Ghansar to up the ante this week. Last time the Seljuqs came up against the Abbasids, they steamrolled them 23-9 – with playoff spot at stake, the Seljuqs will look to go for the kill. Further, with both the Sultans and Seljuqs fighting to stay alive, the Bulls’ nightcap may prove to be the most important game of the year for them. 

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