KUWAIT: Ahli United Bank, pioneers in promoting cricket in Kuwait for many years, added one more feather to their cap by sponsoring the AUB trophy 2015 for the third successive year. Richard Groves, CEO of Ahli United Bank and Mrs Helen Groves jointly cut the cake to officially inaugurate the AUB trophy at a glittering function arranged at the Sulaibiya cricket ground on December 12. Kuwait Banks Club which has many banks affiliated to it and Kuwait Cricket, the official body of controlling cricket in Kuwait has been jointly conducting cricket tournaments for bankers.
The inaugural match of the AUB trophy was played between CBK (Commercial Bank) and Gulf Bank. On a pleasant winter morning, Shahab Kandiyil the CBK captain won the toss and elected to bat first. The highlight of CBK batting was a sparkling 67 balls century by opener Nitin Lobo. The inform Nitin continued his form to play some marvelous strokes to plunder the Gulf Bank bowlers and this lanky lad notched up his first century of the season by scoring a splendid 112 runs which had 3 sixes &9 fours. In conditions where the new ball did nothing, Nitin Lobo and Ajith Nair ran in relentlessly with tremendous stamina as the duo worked out the singles and doubles to keep the score board moving. Ajith Nair found his form to strike a patient 31 runs while Nitin went for the leather hunt as he stepped up to drive the over pitched deliveries and struck the short balls with awesome power. Zaheer Abbas, who came in late struck a brisky 25 runs and CBK at the end of their allotted 20 overs scored 195 runs. Adel Rafat of Gulf bank took 2 wickets.
Gulf Bank batsmen in an attempt to chase a huge total were restricted by some fine bowling by the CBK bowlers who maintained a tight line and length. Waleed (23 runs) and Bilal (21 runs) put up a brave fight. As the scoring rate slowed down and wickets began to fall on regular intervals and the slogging tactics did not yield much a positive result and Gulf Bank were restricted to 97 runs. Mohammed Nawaz & Prasad bowled well for CBK capturing 2 wickets each.
In the second match of the day, Ahli United Bank fired all their guns to register a convincing 7 wickets victory over Kuwait International Bank. Having won the toss, KIB decided to bat on a cloudy day when many of the Englishmen would have loved to play. The AUB pace attack resorted to a short-pitched attack from over the wicket targeting the right-hand batsman’s ribs with men catching close on both the sides of the wicket. The tactics applied by AUB skipper Mahmoud Bastaki paid rich dividends as none of the KIB batsmen could counter attack the AUB bowlers who gave them no width, no opportunity to get on the front foot and hustling them with pace, thus forcing them to take evasive actions. KIB were content with only 34 runs on board. Saud Qamar with his willy off breaks took 3/3, Nabeel Ghafoor 3/11 and Mahmoud Bastaki 2/11 were the successful bowlers for AUB.
Fahad Bastaki and Anuj Rohtagi opened the AUB innings. Fahad Bastaki opted to play with softer hands and a straighter bat and batted with calm technique to rotate the strike. The KIB attack was as hostile as AUB and Nadeem Ahmad bowling with sheer determination struck twice to send back Anuj & Nabeel Ghafoor in one over. Not needing much to chase, AUB got the winning runs in the 7th over as Fahad Bastaki remained not out with 17 runs. Nadeem Ahmad was the pick of KIB attack capturing 2/15. Nabeel Ghafoor for his bowling performance was awarded with the Player of the match memento.
National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) scored a handsome 77 runs victory over Ahli Bank of Kuwait in their first league round match of the AUB trophy. Electing to bat on a perfect batting track, the NBK openers Khuram Rana (21 runs) & Shakthy launched a fierce attack on the ABK bowlers and the duo batted with immense confidence to post 58 runs for the first wicket. Getting to the pitch of the delivery and driving with precise timing Sakthy raced to a quick 41 runs while Khurram clouted two sixes in his brief stay. Ronald Fernandes (16 runs) and Imran Mohammed (22 runs) added another 39 runs to set up a huge total. Kiran Lobo played a cameo innings of 36 runs to boost the NBK total to 196 runs in their allotted 20 overs. Fahad Farooq bowled well for ABK to capture 2 for 27.
The ABK batsmen initially subdued to a defensive mind set were pinned down to the crease as NBK slowly gained control over the match. Mid way through Fahad Farooq (14 runs) and Malik Awan (15 runs) offered more resistance than expected and added 34 runs for the 5th wicket. As the run rate steeped up, Abdul Rauf of ABK took his chance to counter attack the NBK bowlers and scored a swift 32 runs.
Mohammad Rehmatullah bowled well for NBK as he accounted for the top 3 batsmen that fetched him the Player of the match award. Khurram Rana took 2 for 15.