There are very few matches, and even fewer finals, that end in a tie. But it happened in the final of the Amar Ujala Agency & Media Cricket League 2009 where GroupM and Mercantile each scored 97 runs in their allotted 10 overs. GroupM finally won the tournament by beating their opponents in a 'bowl-out'.
The location for this nail-biting finish was the Police Gymkhana Grounds off the beautiful Marine Drive in South Mumbai. The floodlit match marked the end of a month-long cricket fest in which 48 teams battled it out in three cities - Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata - in the biggest tournament of its kind.
GroupM, registered from Mumbai, showed some hospitality to Mercantile (registered from Delhi) by allowing 'the guests' to call at the toss. GroupM won and elected to field, preferring to chase a target. When asked about their game plan, Sachin Puthran, captain, GroupM said, "Offensive". Daivesh Shah, captain, Mercantile, should have expected no more courtesy.
Chanchal Singh and the team captain, Daivesh Shah opened the innings for Mercantile. Mercantile lost its first wicket in the very first over when Chanchal was caught by Rahul Haryan off Dipak Nivalkar's ball, when he had just scored 1 run.
Amit and Ajay then added 42 runs in the next three overs without losing any wicket. In these 3 overs, Ajay hit 3 fours and 1 six but the pair's luck ran out in the sixth over when Amit was run out by Dipak.
As soon as Raman came into the crease, he hit a six and a four. In the seventh over Ajay also hit a four before he was stumped by Rahul in the eighth over bowled by Sani Dhamnaskar. In this over, Sani also managed to take Raman's wicket.
Ajay scored 30 runs off 19 balls, while Raman's individual score was 16 runs in 8 balls.
Ajay and Raman were then replaced by Puneet and Gaurav at the crease. Puneet got out soon after scoring just 3 runs off 5 balls while Gaurav remained not out till the end and scored 16 runs off just 6 balls, including a six off the last ball. This took Mercantile's score to 97.
GroupM's innings was opened by Sameer Patankar and the captain, Sachin Puthran. Both Sameer and Sachin played comfortably and kept the score moving till the sixth over: Sameer got four boundaries as against Sachin's five. GroupM piled up 60 runs without loss and with only 38 runs to score in four overs and all their wickets intact, it looked like they were going to crush their opponents.
Mercantile kept up the pressure and with the score at 69, GroupM lost two wickets. First, Sameer was run out by Dhruv, when his individual score was 25. Next at the crease was Vinayak Rane, but he was caught and bowled by Amit for a duck. Dipak came in next and scored 11 runs off 10 balls before he was stumped.
With chants of 'Ganpati Bappa Morya' to support the Mumbai team, the heat was on till the last ball. GroupM needed five runs to win. A boundary saved GroupM from defeat - and led to the second tie of the tournament.
Sachin played a captain's innings, remaining unbeaten on 54 runs gained off just 28 balls.
The umpires then enforced the 'Bowl-Out' option to decide the winner. Five bowlers from each team bowled to the undefended stumps: the team to knock down the wickets more often would be the winner. Even this had a nail-biting as it could get - GroupM got 2 points early and Mercantile score a point just in time. However, GroupM won the tie-breaker 2-1 and closed an entertaining evening.
Present at the event and part of the presentation party were: Sunil Mutreja, president, marketing, Amar Ujala; Rahul Khanna, Sr, VP - Sales, ICL; Vinay Agarwal, GM - Finance, DNA; Sudip Roy, regional manager, STAR News; Sonal Pandey, AVP, STAR News, Navin Kalloor, regional manager, STAR News; Shyamal Bhojani, director, marketing and sales, All Sports Magazine; M Vikas, DGM, DNA; Praveen Chandra, head - Mumbai, Cricket Today; and Sreekant Khandekar, director, afaqs!.
Awards given away were:
• Star Bowler of the Match - Sani Dhamnaskar, GroupM
• Star Batsman of the Match - Sachin Puthran, GroupM
• Man of the Match - Sachin Puthran, GroupM
• DNA Super Boundaries - Sachin Puthran, GroupM
• ICL Maximum Sixes - Kaushik Pal, The Telegraph
• Star Safe Hands of the Series - Rahul Haryan and Devendra, GroupM
• Star Fielder of the Series - Chanchal Singh, Mercantile
• Star Wicketkeeper of the Series - Daivesh Shah, Mercantile
• Star Hitter of the Series - Kaushik Pal, The Telegraph
• Star Challenger of the Series - Ameya Joshi, Mudra
• Star Captain of the Series - Usheer Mohan, Studio Thorn
• Star Bowler of the Series - Rasesh Shah, Mercantile
• Star Batsman of the Series - Amit Ghai, Mercantile
• Star Man of the Series - Amit Ghai, Mercantile
• afaqs! Man of the Series - Sachin Puthran, GroupM
• Star Team of the Series - GroupM
• Colors Fairplay Award - Team Telegraph
• Runner-Up of Amar Ujala AMCL 2009 - Mercantile (Delhi) (Each member received vouchers of Club Mahindra from Cricket Today and the team received a cash award of Rs 50,000)
• Winner of Amar Ujala AMCL 2009 - GroupM (Mumbai) (each member received Timex watches from Cricket Today and the team received a cash award of Rs 100,000)
As a mark of concern and a special gesture, afaqs! donated cricket-kits to two NGO's - SOS and Naaz.
Amar Ujala Agency & Media Cricket League is a leather ball cricket tournament, organized by afaqs!, for media agencies, advertising agencies and media publishers. The ten-10 tournament was being held in Delhi, Kolkata & Mumbai. Forty eight teams participated in this three-city, month-long tournament. The national final was also held on February 21, 2009.
For detailed scores, log on to http://amcl.afaqs.com.
The Amar Ujala Agency & Media Cricket League was sponsored by Amar Ujala in association with Indian Cricket League and STAR News. Fairplay Awards Sponsor: Colors - Viacom 18. Supported by DNA. Outdoor partner: Laqshya Media. Prizes sponsored by Cricket Today. Airline Partner: Fly Kingfisher. Hospitality Partner: Make my trip. Lounge Partner: All Sports Bar. Magazine Partner: All Sports. Event Management by: Sportz Consult.