Syed Aziz powers Southern Hitters to opening day win

Player-of-the-match Syed Aziz Mubarak pictured here in action for Malaysia at the ACC Eastern Region T20 Tournament, February 2020 Photo Credit: Asian Cricket Council (ACC)

Southern Hitters 186/6 (Syed Aziz 61, Ainool Hafizs 49, Amir Azim 2-24) defeated Western Warriors 167/7 (Mogan 52*, Sharif 31, Vijay Unni 2-31) by 19 runs

Southern Hitters’ captain Syed Aziz kicked off the MCA T20 Super Series in style with a typically aggressive 61 (35) before a team effort with the ball confined the Western Warriors to a 19-run loss. 

Syed Aziz won the toss and chose to bat. Opening the innings, he pummeled Haiqal Mohammad Khair for two maximums in the second over to get his innings under way.

Fellow opener Ainool Hafizs responded with three boundaries off Dhivendran Mogan from the other end before miscuing a hook off Haiqal for a fortuitous boundary.  

Syed Aziz continued to pepper the straight boundary, depositing two generous full tosses over the head of medium pacer Rajkumar Rajendran, who leaked 20 in his first over.

At 63/0 after 5, things looked ominous for the Western Warriors. However, Haiqal was given a third over and dragged things back with just one run coming off the final Powerplay over. Leg-spinner Abdul Rashid Ahad backed this up with just 4 off the 7th over.

Unperturbed, Syed Aziz broke the shackles, using his feet to loft off-spinner Suharril Fetri inside out over cover before unleashing a series of sweeps and reverse sweeps to counter the Warriors’ spinners. At 100/0 after 10 overs, the Hitters had their sights set on 200.

Enter Amir Azim.

The left-arm spinner dismissed Syed Aziz off the first ball of his spell when he fired one in wide to the southpaw. The Hitters’ skipper charged down track only to reach for the ball and miscue it to point in the circle.

Mohamed Imam walked in at 3, picking up where he left off from the Malaysian T10 Bash. He charged down the track and hoiked Rajkumar Rajendran for a maximum over long on. However, Rajendran kept his chin up dismissing Imam and opener Hafizs in the space of five deliveries with a pair of well-disguised slower balls.  

The Hitters’ batters then struggled to get boundaries away against Amir Azim and Rajendran.

That was until National Women’s team batter Mas Elysa walked to the crease. She carved Dhivendran Mogan to the point boundary for four off her very first ball and capped things off in the final over with another slash for four.

The Chase

Ahmad Zubaidi began with a trio of elegant boundaries. Unfortunately for the Warriors, he walked past one from off-spinner Vijay Unni as Harinderjit Singh whipped off the bails.

Fellow opener Saifullah Malik was then run out in controversial circumstances. He cut Vijay Unni away to the point boundary with the man in the circle giving chase. The ball looked to have touched the rope before it was thrown back into play. Celebrating what should have been his first boundary, Malik was caught unawares when Harinderjit whipped the bails off and the umpire raised his finger.  

Walking in at 4, Warrior’s skipper Shafiq Sharif took the bull by the horns, scooping Zahid Fazal above the keeper’s head before muscling Anwar Rahman over long on despite not getting to the pitch of the ball.

Just as it looked like he was taking the game away from the opposition, Sharvin Muniandy called him through for an impossible single before sending him back.

With more than 11 runs an over required off the last 10, it was always going to be an uphill battle. Dhivendran Mogan used his long levers to loft a few straight sixes. He brought up his half century off just 24 balls, but struggled to find support from the other end as Southern Hitters registered a comfortable 2 points. Syed Aziz was adjudged Player-of-the-match award for his half century in the first innings.

Match 2 of the MCA T20 Super Series will take place on Thursday between Northern Strikers and Central Smashers. Indian viewers can watch the action on the Fan Code App while Willow TV will be streaming the Super Series across North America. Viewers in the rest of the world can tune in via the MCA’s official Facebook page.

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