RIYADH: Punjab Green Cricket Club, of the Riyadh Cricket League, won the inaugural Saudi National Cricket Championship on Friday. They defeated Arkan Sports in the final, which was played at the Nofa Resort on the outskirts of Riyadh.
Punjab scored 185 in their 20 overs after winning the toss and electing to bat first. Chasing this big total, Arkan Sports could not keep up with the required run rate and lost early wickets before being bowled out for 141 in 15.2 overs.
Nabeel Abbas, who was the pick of Punjab’s bowlers, claimed five wickets during his four overs and was named man of the match.
Shaheen Khan was the top scorer for the victors, hitting 81 off just 40 balls. The side’s other top scorers were Zahoor Ahmad (38 off 30 balls) and captain Munir Ahmed (33 off just 18 balls).
For Arkan Sports, Ishaq Ahmed took three wickets during the 2.5 overs he bowled, and Khurshid Khan and Daisal Khan took two wickets each.
The top scorers for the runners-up were Bilal Ahmed (33 runs off 13 balls), Inamullah Khan (28 off 21 Balls), Ishaq Ahmed (16 off 13 balls) and Taimur Khan (14 off 7 balls).
Punjab’s captain Muneer Ahmed told Arab News: “Thankfully we won the final match; this is a very great victory for us. We are feeling very excited. We played the National Cricket Championship on lush, green ground for the first time — it was a great experience for us.”
Abdul Waheed, the captain of Arkan Sports said: “We are very thankful to the Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation (SACF) for managing this kind of cricket championship in Saudi Arabia. We were unbeatable while winning all league matches, the quarter-final and semi-final, but we were unlucky today to lose this grand finale. Unfortunately it is a part of our game and we lost it today.”
Ahmed joined his fellow captain in thanking the SACF, who organized the championship in partnership with the Sports For All Federation (SFA) with the aim of helping to improve the sport in Saudi Arabia.
The final was followed by a prize-giving ceremony for the winners and runners-up, and other noteworthy players from the tournament. A number of dignitaries attended the match and the awards ceremony, including guest of honor Prince Fahd bin Jalawi, the vice president of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee, Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal, the president of the SFA, and Prince Saud bin Mishaal, chairman of the SACF.
A number of ambassadors from cricket-playing nations also watched the final, including India’s envoy to the Kingdom, Ausaf Sayeed, who congratulated SACF for staging a successful competition.
“I earlier had a very useful discussion with Prince Saud to find ways and means of how India could collaborate with the SACF for promoting cricket,” he said. “We also discussed the possibility of inviting a team from India next year as part of 75 years of India-Saudi Arabia diplomatic relations.
“We are happy that the south-Asian diaspora is getting its due share of attention from the leadership.”
The National Cricket Championship began on Jan. 29, and matches were played in 11 cities across the country. More than 6,800 cricketers from 369 teams, representing 15 local cricket associations, competed in what is Saudi Arabia’s largest-ever cricket tournament.