Hussain delighted new look team proved doubters wrong

Denzil Pinto 21:24 28/12/2015
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  • Moneyball: FiLLi Kasaragod with their runners-up cheque in Dubai.

    FiLLi Kasaragod Superstars might have fallen short in retaining their Kerala Cricket League title but captain Ishtiaq Hussain was delighted his new-look team proved their doubters wrong.

    Superstars won four games in the T20 tournament at Dubai’s Sevens Stadium but were denied a second successive KCL crown, losing to Kannur Royals by three wickets in the final.

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    With KCL ranked as one of the top domestic tournaments in the country, featuring several UAE internationals, winning was never going to be easy. But the run was more remarkable, given that Superstars had to find 13 new faces to make up their 18-man squad after several players left before the event due to financial reasons. Moin Uddin and Zahir Siddique were brought in from Pakistan, while the others, playing in the UAE, completed the squad with Hussain submitting the entry team list on deadline day.

    “We had a completely new team this year,” said Hussain. “Many players demanded a lot of money to play and we weren't willing to pay big sums, that’s why they left.

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    “Their absence was a big blow but we were struggling to form a team. So I had to use my contacts and bring in new players because I always wanted to play in this tournament because it’s of the highest quality and that we were defending champions.”

    With the tournament underway, Superstars wasted no time, training every day ahead of their first game. And whatever happened on the training field seemed to do the trick as they went strength from strength. Despite an eight-wicket defeat to Kerala Tuskers, they registered wins against Allepey Amigos, Kollam Knight Riders and Cochin Cannons with Abdul Harshad finishing top wicket-taker with 12 scalps.

    Hussain added: “When people looked at our team, they didn’t think we would make the quarter-finals. We didn’t have any of the superstars in the UAE. On paper we didn’t look that strong but on the field we did extremely well.

    “The key was team spirit. We stayed together and we backed all our players when things weren’t going well.”

    "I also want to thank the team owner Rafih FiLLi and head coach Akbar TP as they supported the team immensely."