Although Fellows had worked to regroup after their defeat in the group stage of the competition, this game showed that they were not yet ready to take on Mustangs, a team that knows its players' strengths and how to put them to best effect. Once again Mustangs outplayed Fellows.
Fellows were put in to bat, which would not have been their choice. They started steadily in the face of Mustang’s characteristically accurate bowling, reaching the 10th over without loss with 32 runs scored. Both openers, Mike and Zahid, fell in the 12th over to Rauf Shoaib and Sonu, with the memory still fresh of their 143 run partnership last week, continued with the steady run rate up to the 20th over when at the drinks break fellows were 65 for 2. With 8 wickets still in hand, Shoaib and Sonu still at the crease, Fellows felt confident of a second half runfest.
But it never happened. Trying to push up the run rate, Sonu found himself run out on a fast single and Shoaib blasted an off drive into the hands of Afridi in the covers two balls later. Their partnership had been worth 46 runs. Kushan and Niroshan held steady for 8 overs adding another 30 runs before Niroshan was bowled by Rauf. Even the hard hitting Mangela could not break out of the stranglehold Mustang’s bowlers were imposing on Fellows. He and Tim built the fourth partnership of the innings of 41 before Tim was caught off Fahad. Mangela pushed for runs with the tail to reach a total of 172, with last wicket falling in the 40th over.
This had been Fellow’s best all-round batting performance this year. Too often Shoaib makes it easy, but this time all the batters made runs and the total was defendable.
Mustangs had contained Fellows, swapping their bowlers round regularly, changing the pace and direction of the attack, never allowing fellows to settle. Rauf was the most dangerous bowler with 5 for 24 off his 6 overs. Happy was the most economical with 23 runs off his 8 overs.
Fellows attacked Mustangs openers, Rehman and Rupinder, with a barrage of fast short bowling from Chris M and Mike K. Rehman was bowled by Chris in the 3rd over and Fellows began to believe. But Rupinder countered by walking down the wicket and elegantly hitting the ball back over the bowlers head and the long on boundary. A succession of six’s forced a bowling change and for a while Shoaib and Zahid steadied the run flow. 38 runs had been scored in the first 5 overs, doubling fellow’s run rate, climbing to 68 by the 10th over. By the 13th it had reached 105 when Rupinder was out for 53 to a stunning catch by spinner Nalin from his own bowling. His partership with Bimal had made 88 runs. Bimal now took up the attack with Aftab. until Bimal was caught by Shoaib in the slips off Mangela in the 18th over for 39. Afridi and Aftab then built a 37 run partnership before Afridi was bowled by Nalin in the 21st over. 5 balls later the game was over. Mustangs had passed fellows total with 18 overs left to play and 6 wickets still to fall.
Fellow’s had bowled steadily, giving away only 11 wides. It is a indication of the accuracy of both attacks that only 24 wides were given during the whole game. Off spinner Nalin proved the most dangerous of Fellow’s bowlers with 2 for 46 from his 5 overs. But Mustang’s batsmen were confident and unafraid. They simply attacked until they had won.
Report: Richard Steenhuis, Photos: Andrew Pepper