Fitting final: Top tournament cultivates togetherness in cricket community
Dhahran squad comes up four wickets short of Eastern Province team in title tilt.
An invitational tournament ended in exhilarating fashion with two of the best cricketing teams in the Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia, going head-to-head at Dhahran Cricket Ground.
Ten teams took part in the event that ran for six weeks and was organized by Dhahran Cricket Association (DCA). Six of the sides were from DCA, while the other four were from the wider Eastern Province Cricket Association (EPCA).
All matches were played in Dhahran.
Zalmi Lions (EPCA) and DCA Challengers (DCA) were the two teams that made it through to the final after both won their groups convincingly.
A remarkable 96 runs from just 49 balls — including eight fours and six sixes — by the Lions’ Mohammed Masud Rana helped the EPCA team to a four-wicket win over the Challengers.
The tournament, which was the first held since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, comes after Aramco’s sponsorship of cricketing events such as the World Test Championship Final in the UK and the Indian Premier League.
‘There was great camaraderie’
For Wajahat Ali, business administrator in the Distribution and Terminals Project Department, and DCA president, it was a fitting final between the two strongest teams.
“It was a great game of cricket. Throughout the tournament, there were ups and there were downs. There were also a few upsets too,” he said.
“But, the two best teams made it to the final and then both fought so hard in that game. There were quite a number of spectators that showed up as well from both outside and inside the community.”
Hassan K. Iqbal, business system analyst for Corporate Security Services, and DCA vice president, said the tournament helped to cultivate a togetherness in the local cricket community.
“When you’re playing internally, it gets highly competitive between the internal teams. However, suddenly in this tournament, when a Dhahran team is playing an outside team, everyone starts supporting the Dhahran side.
The tournament absolutely brought the whole of DCA closer together, and it was something that I just didn’t anticipate.
— Hassan K. Iqbal
“It means there’s great camaraderie and when it came to the final, everyone was supporting the Dhahran team because we wanted them to win one way or another. That led to a flood of messages on the WhatsApp group; people coming to the ground to support the side. That was great to see.”
New DCA board
It was the final tournament for both Ali and Iqbal, whose tenures as president and vice president respectively have now ended.
A new board took charge from July 1, with Ibrahim A. Ahmad (president), Qadeer Ahmed (vice president), Souban A. Thettu (secretary), and Faisal M. Zuberi (treasurer) all elected. One of the challenges for the new board will be to continue advancing the game within Aramco.
Cricket is growing quickly in Saudi Arabia, and we need more support from within Aramco to take it to the next level. We’ve seen an increase in the marketing of the game across the Kingdom and Aramco becoming a key sponsor in so many international events.
— Wajahat Ali
“We now need to do the same thing within Aramco and let people know that this game is being played at a really high level within the community. There is a lot happening here with cricket, and there’s also a lot of potential to be tapped into.”
• Player of the tournament — Avais Qureshi, DCA Stars (six matches, five wickets, 426 runs)
• Best batsman — Mohammad Masud Rana, Zalmi Lions CC (five matches, 523 runs, highest 120, not out three times)
• Best bowler — Ibtesam Ahmed – DCA Challengers (five matches, 16 overs, eight wickets, economy 6.19)
• Best fielder — Souban Ahmed, DCA Stars (five catches in four matches)
• Best wicketkeeper — Munzir Hasan, DCA Challengers (five catches, two stumps in five matches).
Caption for top photo: The Lions' Mohammed Musad Rana hit an incredible 96 runs from just 49 balls, including eight fours and six sixes.