Muscat: When Oman Cricket launched the Premier Division, an improved version of then existing A Division League, back in 2015 no one would have expected a single team to dominate the top league of Sultanate’s cricket. But the Assarain team did just that, winning a trophy season after season, completing a hat-trick of title wins this Friday - a record that is sure to stand for a long time to come.
Assarain’s hat-trick of triumphs was confirmed on Friday when Al Turki defeated Enhance by two wickets. Though it should be mentioned that Assarain were virtually assured of their third when they recorded a massive 144-run win over Al Turki in their final engagment on February 16.
In Friday’s match though, Enhance needed to defeat Al Turki by a margin of 100 runs and a bonus point to stop Assarain from defending their crown. But that was not to be as Al Turki went on to defeat Enhance and Assarain started celebrating their hat-trick of triumphs.
For the record, Assarain retained their title after topping the table with 36 points. Meanwhile, Muscat CT who defeated Passage to India by on Saturday, ended their campaign with 31 points, same as Enhance. But thanks to their better run rate, Muscat CT finished runners-up and Enhance had to satisfy with the third place.
A delighted Assarain team captain Zeeshan Maqsood said: “Its always a happy feeling winning the championship. That we have won it for the third time in a row makes it even more sweeter.”
Meanwhile, an equally elated team manager Vinu Mathews said: “Its a great feeling winning the premier title for the third time and what is behind this success is the nucleus of the team being maintained over the years. The fact that the boys have gelled together well is the main reason behind this success.”
“Our MD, Mr. Ibrahim Al Wahaibi is obviously very delighted and proud of this title triumph. He congratulated all members of team and support staff on this tremendous achievement,” he said.
Assarain achieved the hat-trick of triumphs despite missing the services of four key players - Kaleemullah, Zeeshan Maqsood, Muhammed Nadeem and Naseem Kushi - during the final stages of their campaign.
Speaking about the four players, who were away on national duty with Oman team in the ICC WCL Division 2 competition in Namibia, he said: “Of course, the four were our key players and they made a great contribution throughout the season. But we had belief in our bench strength and thankfully the other players rose to the ocsasion during their absence.”
As their team manager Vinu mentioned Assarain benefitted from the excellent contributions from the entire team.
In the batting front, as many as seven players aggregated more than 200 runs with Arun Poulose leading with 302 runs followed by Shahan Akram (301), Naseem Kushi (278), Sami Ur-Rahman (268), Muhammed Nadeem (211), Sindo Michael (208) and Zeeshan Maqsood (202).
In the bowling department, Kaleemullah was the star performer with 15 wickets despite missing a few matches due to his participation with the national team in Namibia.
Vinu Kumar claimed 13 wickets while Shahan Akram, Sindo Michael and Shakeel Ahmed bagged 12 wickets apiece. Muhammed Nadeem and Zeeshan Maqsood, who also represented Oman in the WCL Division 2, bagged 11 and eight wickets each.
Quite rightly, the team manager gave a lot of credit to one factor for team’s success - self belief.
“In my opinion, it is the self belief of this confident team that has been the main factor behind the success,” Vinu added while expressing his gratitude to the Assarain Group Managing Director Ibrahim Al Wahaibi for providing all the support the team needed during the season to complete a hat-trick of title victories.