Lokmat APL-7 Review

Cricket fever had gripped the city during the 12-day long 7th Lokmat Aurangabad, Premier League (APL), which concluded at the floodlit Divisional Sports Complex ground on Tuesday. The APL was the talk of the town. There was entertainment, fun, glamour and, of course, the breathtaking light and fireworks show that mesmerized all and sundry Keeping in mind the passion for the game in Aurangabad the Lokmat Group provided top class entertainment through APL. There was everything that the local cricketers and supporters had never experienced before. The franchisees also had a whale of a time during the ‘cricket carnival’. None of the team owners whined all that they wanted was good cricket to watch and local cricketers to shine.

While the APL-7 proved to be a huge success, the performance of cricketers, barring a few players, was not of high standard. Youth prevailed over experience during the mega event. It was the youthful Satish Motors Ace XI that beat the best to win their maiden APL title. While the so-called star cricketers with loads of experience came a cropper (barring a few), the young guns of Satish Motors Ace XI withstood the rigours of the APL to prove a point.

The new champions were a disciplined lot throughout the APL. In Pradeep Jagdale, Satish Motors had a captain who always backed his players to come good. He read the situation very well nd changed the batting and bowling orders sensibly. With Jagdale leading by example, the players too gelled well and justified their skipper’s faith. As franchisee Satish Lodha rightly put it, Jagdale was the Mahendra Singh Dhoni of the team.

Can’t imagine cricket without Lokmat APL

The APL-7 saw lots of surprises with some of the fancied teams falling by the wayside. Sanya United looked very formidable on paper solid enough to make at least semis particularly after their impressive victory over Green Gold Seeds. But they ended up with a wooden spoon, with none of the big names in their team living up to their reputations. Green Gold Seeds was another team that appeared well balanced, but after making an impressive start in their tournament opener, they lost their way. One feels sorry for Shaikh Mukheem, who fought a lone battle for the Men in Green/Yellow, scoring 322 runs in five matches, which itself speaks volumes about his remarkable consistency and never-say-die spirit. He showed everyone how to bat in the shorter format. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t get support from any of his teammates.

Defending champions Prozone Trade Centre was another team that was expected to enter the knockout stage, as they had some very fine cricketers. It was the poor form of young Syed Farhan that let Prozone down. Although, Vikas Nagarkar scored a century, he looked out of sorts. The less said about his bowling the better. The only Prozone cricketer who impressed was the experienced Pankaj Phalke, who returned to the APL after missing last two editions with injury. The opener showed glimpses of his ‘old form but missed a century by just a solitary run in one of the matches. Had Prozone’s other batsmen put in even 50 percent efforts that Pankaj did, they would have excelled.

Majority of the senior cricketers had a dismal run in the tournament. The only senior players (other than Pankaj, Mukheem and Jagdale) who lived up to the expectations include Hidayat Khan (Virtue Entertainment) and Pritesh Charles (Palms Realty). Hidayat, who was perhaps the oldest player in APL-7, batted with spiritedness and gumption, while Pritesh also won the hearts of one and all with that glorious century against Prozone. Sandeep Gaekwad and Syed Aref of Khinvasara Smashers also looked good in patches. The APL-7 saw some brilliant performances from young players like Sachin Shedge (Virtue), Shubham Mohite and Swapnil Chavan (Satish Motors), Imran Khan (Sterlite Strikers) and Naushad Hashmi (Marwadvala) to name a few.

Young Shubham Mohite was outstanding with the ball, as he troubled the batsmen with lots of

variations and showed that he had nerves of steel beneath that innocent face. Mohite was a medium-pacer when he was playing for his school Kids Kingdom, but he has turned to spin bowling, and as a left-arm spinner, he had a jolly good time out there in the middle too.

True to expectations, Swapnil Chavan impressed for the second consecutive year. The youngster bowled well and fielded brilliantly Although his performance with the bat was a bit patchy, he played some wonderful knocks. Sachin Shedge also impressed all and sundry The under-19 allrounder was one of the star performers for Virtue as he delighted the crowd with his clean hitting.

Imran Khan was outstanding as an all rounder. In fact, he was Sterlite Strikers’ key performer, albeit he succumbed to the pressure in the final. Naushad Hashmi also looked in very good touch but didn’t get support from his teammates.

The youngsters who disappointed one and all were Harsh Shroff (Palms Realty), Ajay Kale (Manjeet Pride) and Sushant Modani (Marwadvala). It was sad to see a good striker of the ball like Harsh not showing any commitment. Also known for his fielding abilities, Harsh disappointed his fans by dropping some sitters against Prozone. Like Harsh, Ajay Kale was another talented youngster who flopped. His abysmal display was one of the reasons for Manjeet Pride’s dismal show

All said, the overall performance of players, particularly the seniors, was not at all satisfying. It’s time for some of the senior cricketers to call it quits. The teams need fresh legs to withstand the rigours of the APL. Ask Satish Motors and they would explicate why.

K.RAGHAVENDRA

Source: Aurangabad-Special Lokmat Times

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