Thursday, November 5, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
1. What this championship means to me, personally?
2. What I would like to remember about this season, as a team or individually?
This championship made the on-field and off-field efforts - incl broken fingers and crushed toes - all worthwhile. This win is even more special as this title has come after several years of hard work and toil. My last win in a major tournament was way back in the school (St. Patricks) days... :) ...
I would like to remember the semi-final clash against Oakland. Almost 600 runs were scripted over 6 hours. It was a slippery dark day where two determined teams battled it out in all fairness. We could bareky talk for hours after the game - drained out and exhausted but humble in happiness for reaching the finals... It was a pure thrilling game of cricket!
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I have followed Suhail’s blog regularly, not just because he is a good friend and inherent part of the team, but more so to learn what his thoughts/comments on certain aspect of the game were. It gives me a good perspective of what may be going on in a teammates mind and pick up tips on what aspect of my leadership/game plan I could improve upon if certain things did or didn’t go our way. Obviously his well written blog also was great fun to read and reminisce upon a previous game/situation.
It is every players’ dream to “win”…no matter what sport, what occasion and at what level. There is however a fine line between a player and a champion. The latter plays the sport with correct temperament, discipline and more over not as an individual but as part of his/her TEAM!
I have the privilege of captaining a team of champions! It takes time to build such a team and develop such mentality. But it also takes an open mind and heart to change the mentality of “me” and “I” within oneself to “we” and “us”. This year playing for the second season in DivA MichCA 40 over championship we were able to bag the coveted tags of “champions” not just with our ability to play good cricket, but more because of our mentality of putting team first before ourselves. The support each one of us had for each other and the joy we got with someone else’s success is what stood out about us in my mind.
Looking at stats and scorecards from our season one will clearly see what the term “team effort” signifies. Almost every game saw a different player within the team put their hand up and brave out the battle at hand. My newly discovered philosophy of playing this game is “to be in the present rather than thinking about the next moment, over or game”. One ball at a time, one moment at a time…do not think about playing in a pre-determined way. Something I have learnt from my better half and I sincerely thank her for this teaching!
My second philosophy is “never think about the trophy, championship etc…just be humble on the field, identify our strengths as well as weaknesses…finally make sure we have more moments showing our strengths than ones demonstrating our weaknesses….victories will automatically line up one after another!
The above two comments are not methods but a mentality of how I think one should play any sport….at least this is how I played this season (I wish I would have learnt this early on in my cricket career). Some may disagree, some may have a different way of approaching the game. I believe that there is no “one correct way”…everyone can have correct ways as long as you believe in it. The way one handles themselves on the field, not just in a good situation but perhaps more importantly in challenging situations when our backs are against the wall speaks volumes for what is going on in one’s mind. If one reflects back at our season, barring 2 games during the season, each one of our games has required us to battle our way to victory. Each game has seen a player emerge into a champion! We have had games where frontline batsmen have taken us across the line, but we cannot forget those instances when our tail batted with fierce determination and saw us to safety. We also have had frontline bowlers demolish opponents with an exceptional spell, but we certainly cannot forget bowlers who put their hand up and delivered when all others had temporarily failed. We have also had a few take on wicket-keeper responsibilities due to necessity…and thereby realize a hidden capability.
A champion team rises to every occasion and challenge…but with the correct discipline and attitude. No one will remember what we won a few years from now, but everyone will remember how we played our game. Other teams in MichCA were desperate for us to win the championship vs FHCC…not because they are fans of our players, but moreover because we have earned their respect for being a fair and humble team.
It has indeed taken several years of developing a team that compliments each other in every aspect…Im not talking just batting/bowling/fielding here, but even in personalities and communication. If anyone thinks our team is easy to handle, please wake up. Our team has a good mix of light hearted vs serious characters, loud vs silent communicators, disciplined vs erratic behaviors…but all this goes unnoticed when each one of us unites on the field and behaves as “one team” rather than “eleven players.”
Congrats to each one of you on a season well played, on a trophy thoroughly deserved. I hope that this small success doesn’t develop over confidence and/or lack of desire for future cricket. Reaching the top is goal #1, but staying there is the ultimate goal!
Monday, October 5, 2009
Cleveland won the 2009 Division 1 MichCA League by beating Farmington in the finals!!!
Cleveland - 190/10 (Sujay 40, Ani 36, Pratik 31, Goutam 4/37, Venu 3/46)
FHCC - 164 (Manu 2/13 in 8, Deepak 3/36 in 8, Sujay 3/25 in 8)
It was a glorious day for Cleveland and cricket at the Bloomer Park in Michigan.
Our Support - We encouraged our club mates for support, and we were able to convince our loved ones, better halves and well-wishers to join us on this final journey of the season. And so we went with a good/diverse group of cheering supporters and in the overall context of the season it was only fitting for them to be at the ground as they also had equally sacrificed through out the season, allowing us to be away on weekends and believing in our passion. We truly are indebted to them.
Playing conditions and toss - The wind was certainly a factor and the outfield, although damp, was not terrible. The toss was going to play a crucial role, as in any such game. The pressure counts for a lot, especially when you are chasing. Add to that the rain factor, and in come the infamous Mr.’s Duckworth and Lewis. No team wants to keep them on their minds. So the toss in itself was a mini-contest so to say. But Ani called right when it mattered most!! And we chose to bat without any hesitation.
Goldy and Sujay opened the innings for us. The moist surface and windy conditions were certainly going to help the bowlers and they did. The FHCC opening bowlers were right on the money. And soon into the game, Goldy fended a ball that quickly came onto him, and it took his gloves (nasty blow on hand) and went to the slip cordon.
Viggy joined Sujay and they played out some anxious overs. Sujay was picking the gaps well and Viggy also seemed in control until the moment when he tried to flick one to the leg side, closed the bat face a tad early, a thick edge flies to gully.
Ani walked in with an important task at hand. This was going to be a very crucial phase. The two (Ani and Sujay) had to stick in and work out some stability for the innings. And they did just that. The bowlers obviously were on top and bowled well. The pitch was aiding them as well. They tried bouncers and also were able to swing quite a bit. But both Ani and Sujay played the ball on its merit. It was a good time to see a keen contest. Ani looked solid and Sujay played some very good flicks and drives. They were running well too and the board started to tick.
Sujay and Ani put on a good partnership of over 80 runs …
But unfortunately against the run of play, we lost two quick wickets and that too of the two set men. Sujay played slightly across but made an invaluable 40. And Ani, who played watchfully and sensibly, was on 36, when he nicked one that was brilliantly caught behind.
Devin was the next man in. He along with Pratik was crucial to get us to a challenging score.
Pratik was playing after a gap of over 3 weeks. In fact, hats off to Pratik and Aishwarya - as he came on to play even as they await the arrival of their first baby and it was due any moment. And to drive 3 hours away from home at this point was an amazing gesture.
FHCC was now roaring and shouting all over the place. It seemed they wanted to get under our skins and most importantly under Devin’s, as they must have heard and talked a lot about him. They (FHCC) started to become noisier and behaved like street kids fighting over trial issues. I have seen some childish behavior in cricket alright but FHCC was getting uglier by the minute.
Devin and Pratik played some quite overs and then hit a couple of good boundaries.
Devin was lucky when he hit one over square leg and the fielder - one of their best, John Titus - dropped the catch on the boundary line. And to add salt onto the wound, the ball crossed the line. The umpire called it a six at first, and then changed it to a four after the fielder suggested it was a four. And casually, Devin checked with the square leg umpire and that was enough to incite FHCC. They threw all kinds of tantrums, taking the focus off of the game and got quite vocal with the crowd, with Devin etc. It was natural to have a hard game as it was the final but for a team to behave as this was unacceptable. I wish we were playing a stronger team than this but a sportier one.
We sensed that this was going to motivate Devin even more but unfortunately he played a loose shot and was caught behind. That was a big blow as Devin could normally be able to use such a launch pad to take the game away from the opponents. Chandu joined Pratik to give some sting to our batting.
But it began to rain and the players were called off. This break was utilized to have lunch. Again, thanks to MichCA, food was promptly served and it was delicious too - Mediterranean food (chicken kebabs etc) and Pizza.
As play resumed, Chandu couldn’t show his long handle shots and came back. Sunny joined Pratik. The pair got some good ones and two’s on the board. But both got out to some good FHCC bowling. Pratik made 31.
At 36 overs CLCC were around 170. This was a slightly an under par score but we knew in the heat of final, this was not that bad a score. Gaurav, Deepak and I had the last four overs to get us to some more commanding score. We decided to get at least 20 more runs and then some more if possible. We ended up folding at 190.
190 were slightly short of what we wanted but definitely defendable as we had complete faith in our bowling and fielding.
And we all knew this was going to be one heck of an afternoon….
FHCC began their chase with a left-right opening combination and so did we in Deepak (left) and Manu (right). The lefty got off to a good start playing some good shots through and around the gully area. But Deepak was bowling an excellent line and getting the ball to move. It was turning to be a promising spell.
Third over, right hander Hari (the FHCC captain), facing Deepak. Ball pitches outside off and it seemed natural from a left arm bowler that it probably would go further outside off. Hari sensed that there was width, goes on his back foot to cut but lo and behold the ball comes drastically inwards, takes his inside edge and crashes onto the stumps!
Cleveland roars at the first wicket. Well done Deepak. Manu on the other end was also bowling exceptionally well. He bowled in the right area and with pace, not letting the batsmen any room.
In walks Ricky (heard that he is a South African, a good sign of diversity). He plays some decent shots on the off side, but when faced with Deepak, he had no clues. He constantly mistimed and we knew that this cannot be their one-drop bat. He was quickly getting under pressure to score.
And when Manu bowled one on the good length, Ricky connected but only to hit it high in the sky and Chandu, coming under the catch, made no mistake. Chandu judged it very well and was a relieved man as he knew that if he dropped this, the daggers would be out on him. J..
In came another left hander, and he played a few nervous deliveries from Deepak. But soon, Deepak landed one on the middle and leg, the lefty going for a flick or dab down the leg side, the ball moves away from him, hits nothing but the top of off-stump. BOOM! – amazing delivery that one.
FHCC now 3 down and in trouble.
To make it worse their next man comes in and nicks one straight into my waiting hands.
FHCC 4 down and barely 35 runs on the board.
In came one of the more vociferous of their players. This bandana clad guy was making all kinds of noise and gestures when we were batting. We could have easily given him a like-wise treatment, but as a team, we don’t believe in doing such things. And kudus to Ani, who always kept reminding the team to play a fair and decent game. And I cannot agree more. We kept our heads down and kept chipping away.
Manu gave this guy a tough time, bowling a very tight line and not allowing any width at all. He then bowled one slightly short but with pace. The batsman sensed he could pull but as he played the ball came quickly to take the top edge that went up and behind me… I knew it was mine to take, called it early, and moved back to get myself under the ball – another quick decision I made on there was not to try to turn back as the ball seemed to be quite behind me to begin with – and it paid off as the ball landed perfectly into my waiting hands, and exactly where I wanted. A thrill feeling that.
FHCC were around 40/5. We were now truly on top of them.
Immediately thereafter, Manu got one to move sharply outside off, a big edge and into my hands as I moved slightly to my right to collect. But we were shocked and horrified to see the umpire not raising his finger. We could not believe and kept appealing. The close in fielders converging to the pitch and the leg umpire suggested there was a nick. But the main umpire kept saying he did not hear anything. His audacity was simply unacceptable as he didn’t even want to consult with the leg umpire. It is human to make errors but it is silly to hold onto your ego, when you have options to correct any mistakes.
I remember that in an important game last season; although the umpire was not sure, Viggy walked when he had nicked one, to applause from all players. But we didn’t see that here and agreed the batsman does NOT have to walk, nevertheless it was one of those times you feel the game could sometimes be so much fun if not for some silly umpiring and characters.
We pushed ahead and the game moved on.
The 6th wicket partnership played sensible cricket and were knocking around to keep the score moving. Our spin brigade (Sujay, Devin and Viggy) came on and we kept our focus on the game, even as FHCC sensed that they still had a chance. And we knew that we had one more danger to tackle – and that was John Titus, one of their main bats hadn’t yet come to bat – and so we kept telling ourselves, it’s not over yet.
Then the guy who nicked but did not walk J, played one to the midwicket area where Devin caught him on second attempt. It was a good wicket as we broke a troubling partnership. Now Titus came onto bat. I was a little surprised that he came so low down the order.
Devin and Viggy ware not at their best yet, slightly struggling to control the line. But on the other hand, Sujay was bowling an exceptional spell. Sujay was rightly rewarded with a wicket.
FHCC was around 70 for 6 wickets!
Titus was joined by the 7th down (don’t remember his name). And the pair played quite well, pushing for singles and twos. Titus then played some good shots all over the park. His timing is immaculate. And another aspect is he picks the right deliveries to hit. For example, when Viggy pitched a tad full, Titus would play full blooded lofted drives clearing the ropes, or when the ball was slightly on the leg, he would whip it to over square leg. He scored at a quick pace and we sensed that we needed to break this partnership at any cost.
Our fielding was exceptional and on the mark so far. And Ani handled the placements brilliantly. We gave all our best and hustled quiet well. But the stand was growing and their partnership was now more than 50. And Titus also crossed his well-deserved half century.
FHCC needed 70 odd from 9 overs. Absolutely doable for them but the silver lining for us was that we needed to get 3 more wickets. We kept trying and finally we were able to break the partnership when Ani caught one in the deep. This partnership had put on 90 plus runs! Next man in and out really quickly and Sujay crashed into his stumps.
Our supporters kept cheering and chanting for us and it was an amazing atmosphere. Every now and then, there would be a dead- silence in anticipation and on occasions there would be shouts from both the camps. Especially when Titus hit some huge sixes or when we were breaking partnerships or hustling hard to stop the runs... it was an environment fit for the finals.
Eventually the equation came down to 27 needed of 2 overs and 1 wicket remaining.
Viggy to bowl the penultimate over and Titus facing. Very first ball, Titus steps out for a big heave and misses. I couldn’t collect it cleanly and a stumping chance missed. The heat is on and what a pressure cooker situation. Viggy bowls the next one that stays low and again misses his bat and barely misses the stumps. Heart rate goes high up.
Third ball from Viggy pitches and moves away slightly, Titus out of his crease, goes for another huge attempt, misses it but this time I don’t. The bails are blown off and we jump in joy!!
A dream comes true for each and everyone of us. Our supporters barge to the middle and we trade hugs and lift each other. A great piece of achievement, and a collective sense of pride. Cleveland wins a trophy after a gap of 11 years. And Michigan gives us a standing ovation.
Ani lifts the trophy and we could sense what a proud moment it was for him. He was then accompanied by Goldy and joined by the team. It was an awesome sight that. And time for some pictures and handshakes all over the place.
P.S. – After the celebration, Tahreem and I went to meet one of our close friends, who reside close to the ground. They were expecting their first baby and all was smooth until after 25 weeks into the pregnancy, the mother had pains and went to the hospital only to be told that they have to do the delivery right away. It was a shocking experience. But it’s been now 4 weeks since the delivery, the mom is OK and the baby (Zayd) is in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). We reached the hospital in time to able to visit Zayd. And the sight of this small baby, fighting such a tough battle suddenly grounded us into perspective. Only a few hours ago we were on the ground cheering and shouting upon becoming a champion and here we were praying humbled in reality and with moist eyes that baby Zayd wins this battle and comes out like a champion! They are in true sense the real champs.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Batting first we scored 280/6 in 40 overs and in most cases you would think that a score like that bats off most of the oppositions out of the game but OUCC and especially Harnik Shah had different ideas. They were all out for 264 in 39.3! and we booked our seat in the finals. But the man of the match was Harnik for his glorious knock of 124.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
And the semis match up is:
Sept 26: Cleveland (CLCC) vs. Oakland University (OUCC)
Sept 27: Farmington Hills (FHCC) vs. Greater Toledo Whites (GTWC)
Preview about our game with Oakland University...
We should not have been so surprised to see Oakland in the semis because the only game we lost this year was to them. But to be honest, I was NOT expecting them to be in the semis especially after GDCC (Greater Detroit - who have won the championship several times) defeated them comprehensively in the super sixes. I think what really bogs my mind and probably most of us, is the manner in which Oakland turned around and defeated Farmington Hills (who has not lost any game this season - except for the game that they forfeited to us). So that is what I think has caused the raised eyebrows. Nevertheless - the fact is Oakland is in the last four and they deserve every bit of it.
Oakland is a team with players on the 'younger' side a bit. And I know they will certainly be coming all guns blazing and somewhat with their tails up :) – and rightly so since they have beaten us. And they have obviously stepped up whenever there was a need to do so. Hence they are certainly a force to handle.
With all that said, I can guarantee that every Cleveland mate is eager to get the equation right. And if there is one game that matters - this is it.
It’s hard to say what is our strength - but personally I think we have proved to be a better batting side in comparison to our bowling - but that does in no way mean we lack. Our bowling is as brutal and wise as it can get and I am thoroughly proud of it. But over the course of this season I think our batting has just been AWESOME. We enjoy fielding and will give it our best.
In this last lap it’s all about how hungry and disciplined we are, and how well we handle the pressure. We have been in this position several times before and so I think that experience will be handy.
I do feel that no matter what, we will give a good account of our self and enjoy!
Preview of the FHCC vs. GTWC game…
Farmington has played great cricket through out this season. We have not played them this year so I don’t have a direct view of their strengths. But I am sure they will be tested to their limits in the game against GTWC.
GTWC has had a slow start to the season but seem to have peaked at the right time. It took an exceptionally professional effort by us to beat them in the last of our super six games. They rattled off 240! I am certainly not boasting here but any team that can do that against out bowling attack, I believe is certainly playing good cricket.
So the stage is very well set for a good showdown between FHCC and GTWC. I wouldn’t have said this 3 weeks ago, but I think my bet would be on GTWC.
3 days to semis!
I had to miss the game due to the ramadan fasting and since Eid Day was undecided (eventually it happened on Sunday).
We knew ahead of this game that we were through to the semis regardless of the result. With that said, at no point any of us were expecting any less focus on keeping our win column busy.
Since I was not at the ground - I dont have a lot of notes to capture and blog. But I had a chat with Ani after the game and he mentioned that it was tough long day at the office.
Here are brief scores:
Toledo White batting first made 238/10 in 40 overs (Sujay, Deepak, Devin, Viggy 2 wkts ea)
CLCC - 239/6 in 39.4 overs (Sujay 69, Viggy 55, Chandu 31, Ani 17*)
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
It was a gorgeous day for cricket at the sparking Lyon Oaks cricket ground in Detroit. Ani won a crucial toss and right way decided to take first strike. Goldy and Puru opened the inning for us. It wasn’t the start we were looking for as Puru edged to slips. Chirag was promoted up the order and he played out some anxious overs initially but started to look good. But soon we lost Goldy to a caught behind.
Our start got even worse when Ani was given out caught behind before he opened his account. Apparently Ani hadn’t nicked it at all but the umpire had made the call and Ani walked back frustrated. The Cantons certainly were extremely glad to see the back of Ani as he had taken the game away from them in our last encounter.
With that we were in deep trouble at 13/3! Something special was needed from the remaining batsmen. Devin and Chirag played some good shots and we were slowly starting to show signs of recovery. Having stayed at the wicket for sometime, Chirag went for a pull but the ball stopped on him a bit and he was out caught out for a well made 18.
Viggy and Devin set about another partnership and we all knew this pair had to be there for long and hopefully at least one of them into the last overs. Devin started to show signs of power with some excellent boundaries. But he seemed to be in a lot of pain due to an injured right arm. Viggy on the other hand was calm and composed as usual and looked determined to stay there. The scorecard was ticking along at around 3 or 4 an over with the odd Devin boundary.
In the pavilion (yes Lyon Oaks does have a covered player’s area). And they have a couple of awesome nets near the player’s area. Some of us went and had some knocking in the nets. It truly is a treat to have such facilities. We in Cleveland certainly should be looking to create something like in our area too. There was the normal banter as we basked in the sun and shade around the well maintained ground. Enjoying what was shaping out to be a good partnership between Devin and Viggy.
But with the score at around 85/4 in 24 overs, Viggy was struck on the pad to an off spinner and the umpire hurriedly raised the dreaded finger once more, LBW being the call. This was big blow but we still had some padded up batting strength to follow.
Ani asked me to go in and provide assistance to Devin. Initially I played out the off spinner and was determined not to get an LBW as that seemed to be his target. Once I saw his pace and turn, I got comfy and was getting along well and enjoyed hitting a sweep for a boundary. Devin on the other hand launched some brutal shots that cleared the rope often and it was a delight to watch these shots from close quarters. His style is simple – comes behind the ball and plays with immense power and timing. Another aspect of his batting is that he seems to be very clear of his shot selection (I don’t think he pre-determines but rather seems to be never in a double mind).
One thing that was bothering though, was that the pain in Devin’s arm seemed to be growing. Goldy (who was leg umpiring) and I tried to encourage him. We had couple of more over’s for the break anyways. So he asked if I could just play out the last two over’s so he doesn’t have to play if possible prior to the break. I did just that and we went into a break without any further loss. At the break we were at 130 odd for 4.
We resumed and Devin suddenly seemed to be in a rush. With 12 over’s to go and 5 wickets still in hand he said we should up the tempo, and strangely enough, he asked me to go for shots. I was some what surprised but he seemed pretty clear about it and even selected what shots I should play :). I tried to play aggressively and was caught in the deep. Our partnership was about 60 runs in 7 over’s, of course most of the runs coming from Devin. With that kind of scoring, I don’t think I should have listened to him :) and should have used common sense to nudge around and rotate. Nevertheless lessons are to learn and I learnt mine.
At 140 odd/5, Sunny joined Devin. The break and massage seemed to have some magic as Devin unleashed an array of unbelievable shots all over the park. He crossed his century in style and we suddenly seemed to be looking to a score easily beyond 200. Devin seemed to have gone from brilliant to brutal and he just cannoned Canton out of the park, game and championship.
Devin - 166! and standing:)
The cantons dropped Devin when he was in his 60’s. And they probably didn’t realize what they missed. But once he crossed his century he gave some more chances but his impact was so over whelming that the fielders were just dazed at what was going on. The last 50 runs from Devin probably came in less than 20 balls, I think.
At the end of 40 over’s we were 248 for 7. Sunny played well for his 15 before he was caught and Devin remained unbeaten on a MichCA Division 1 all time record highest score of 166!
Canton was clueless at what just had happened. It is absolutely hard for any team to come around and chase that kind of a total especially after such heavy cannon shots!
To make matters worse for Canton, the first ball of their chase, Deepak struck a lighting blow with an amazing inswinger, and their opener didn’t play any shot to be struck on the pad. With a wicket down first ball, we never let them take charge throughout the game. I think Ani marshalled his bowlers exceptionally well, ringing in the right changes and we were cruising to win.
Deepak and Chirag combined well to bowl their first spells and then Manu bowled some overs along with Viggy but the real danger man was Goldy. He suddenly was called upon to bowl. He was right on the money and got timely breaks. His secret weapon left the batsmen surprised and we kept getting the wickets. Canton could not go past 126.
Puru and Goldy pulled off awesome catches and our fielding was upto the mark. The extras still bother us but hope we can correct/reduce those going into the last lap here.
We will play Toledo Whites this Saturday in our last super six game. We are of course through to the semis but I am sure we will not want to slow down even a bit.
The man of the match was deservedly Devin Patel.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
As for the game against Grand Rapids, it was a humid day all along at the Beatty Park. The outfield was razor sharp. Batting first Grand Rapids were all out for 131. And we chased that down in 15 overs!
Viggy and Anand combined well to make it hard for them. The fielding was not that bad but we still have the occasional misfields/ and catches that get dropped and we need to kick up a notch or two on that.
BTW:)– was able to get one stump victim today, when the batsmen missed a fast Viggy leggy and I took care of it. And having done that I can now relate to how thrilling this event is to a keeper. It’s a truly rewarding experience even better than catching/ running some one out. Also of note where the reflexes of the leg umpire. The moment I did my job and looked towards him, his arm was up and high! :)
When our turn came to chase the target, Devin and I opened the innings and the first runs were boundaries from Devin but he chipped one directly to midwicket and Grand Rapids got a big wicket in the very first over. Thereafter Anand and I combined to shut the gates and take the game away from them. We had an 75-odd run partnership, where I was happy to rotate the strike and Anand just tore into their attack, with delightful boundaries all over the lightning fast outfield.
Anand was in a bit of a hurry. It was just that he was getting married the next day! I am not kidding, he was going to get married the next day, and here he was playing with us in a game that really didn’t matter too much to our fortunes. It shows his (and Devin’s) passion for the game. He said in his typical style – suhail bahi, 2 hafta naheen khayla hai, aaj naheen kheyla toh bahaut lamba break hojata hai - I had the best time all along our partnership, I kept bickering about the next day, saying kal shaadi hai aur aaj inki layra hai and he kept blushing. But it was a good knock and I am sure it made his efforts worth it.
We did play some hurried shots (I played on when we still needed 45 or so runs and Anand skied one too often). Gaurav and Kranthi missed out on scoring. It took Chandu and Manu to finish the game for us. Goldy led the side in the absence of Ani (our regular skip) and I am sure he is happy to begin with one in the win column.
Now we await the super six schedule but we know that we don’t have a game until Sept 12. I am eager to see the match ups. I hope that we continue on our winning habit.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
Weather wise, we could not ask for a better day for cricket, lovely weather with steady cool breeze and white birds flying around the park. It seemed we were playing somewhere in Aussie-land.
CLCC batted first at the Founders Park, Farmington Hills, MI
We were put into bat first as OUCC won the toss. I think they took that route given the heaviness of the field. And as Goldy and I took the first strike we could easily feel the grass-brakes on good drives and pushes. The first few over’s we both got right behind the ball most of the times and kept the score moving with some good ones and twos. Goldy was timing the ball well and I must say I was feeling quite nice in the middle too, trying to get the basics right and playing straight, determined to get some runs. We got to 35 from 8 over’s. And we knew we had ourselves a decent start.
Left arm spin was introduced in the ninth over and the very first ball was a faster one that pitched on the middle and kept straight with me playing for the spin. It hit the pad in the front and gone LBW. Need to go back and practice hard. Anyways we were 35/1 and in-walked Pratik.
Goldy played some good shots on the off side – one of which was an excellent square drive. Goldy and Pratik raised the momentum and CLCC was looking in good control. Just then Goldy flicked one on the leg to find a very unusually placed square-leg. He played well for his 29.
Ani joined Pratik. And they continued from where they had left of in the previous match. Playing sensible cricket and running quick to keep the score-sheet busy. Boundaries and a few sixes later CLCC was in a great position with 120/2 in 24 o, and our sights were on score clearly above 200.
As happens in cricket it takes just one ball to get you out and unfortunately, Pratik played across and lost his stump. He was well-set for a big one but had to return after having scored 35.
Chandu - who was padded almost all morningJ - , was called into the middle for a situation tailor made for him but unfortunately he did not last long. CLCC still had some batting to show even though Devin and Anand – our regular middle order batsmen – where not playing this game. And with Ani still in the middle we didn’t have too much to worry, or at least that’s what we thought.
Pizza was ordered and we were basking in the beautiful day hoping to see a good last third of our inning. But this game amazes you sometimes when you least expect it, we sat and saw a downslide of amazing proportions when our batsmen started coming back rather swiftly, and we folded at an unbelievable 139!!
The downslide included a hat-trick by Lala their first-change bowler. I am not going to be able to explain what really went wrong as that wouldn’t be fair but we all knew this was something that we want to get right real soon, may be the same afternoon.
With 140 to defend and with our bowling options I was not once thinking about losing. We have been in such situations before and if we are to be the champion team we need to win such games from these situations too. And I think I share this confidence with most if not all the mates.
Anyways a quick huddle, focus all set, we began with Deepak. His in-swingers were quickly in display and he got one to bend in and out came the stumps. With a rocking start, CLCC began their hunt in earnest.
The one thing that bothers is when you try hard as a bowler you tend to spray around a bit and I am thinking that’s what happened as we started leaking wides. And when we defend small totals, extras hurt. And they did, as most of the runs they were getting were off extras or streaky cuts or drives. CLCC kept the pressure as fielders were on their toes. At break 1 (14 overs), OUCC was 35 odd with 3 wickets down. We continued to apply the pressure and bowled really well but also didn’t completely stop the extras.
And at break 2 (28 overs), they were 65 odd for 4. We had so far done a terrific job of restricting their score. It was all set for an exciting finish, 72 to get of 72 balls (12 overs)! We bowled well in the first 3 overs after the break and our bowlers created the opportunities to break in but, unfortunately we dropped couple of easy chances. In such tight games, all has to fall in place to pull off a win but that was not the case and OUCC ran hard, hit well when needed and continued to show more hunger.
At the end the equation came down to 12 runs needed of 12 balls. We still could do it but it was not to be and one of the hits went above the ropes to give them the much deserved victory!
Congratulations to the OUCC folks, they must be really feeling great. I know I would feel the same, when you win over a yet undefeated team!
Most of us agreed that this was a stutter which could not have happened at a better time; we needed this to ensure we were not getting ahead of ourselves. Our batting let us down no doubt, but better controlled bowling and fielding could have bailed us out. So it was a good knock on everyone to keep our heads down and on the job.
We have one more game – on Aug 15 - before the playoffs. We can use that game to resume our winning habit. I am already looking forward to the 15!
PICS from the game (courtesy - Priyank from OUCC). Enjoy!
Scorecard from the game.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
SCORECARD from the game.
Monday, July 20, 2009
An unusually cold summer morning greeted us when we arrived in Toledo. The weather forecast suggestin a 3 in 10 chance of rain that PM. As for the ground conditions, the mowers probably took grass cutting seriously, as we could see earth exposed in some areas of the outfield. And more importantly it left the outfield uneven. Not all that conducive for fielding but fast paced to assist batsmen.
Ani called right at the toss and we elected to bat. Goldy and I taking first strike. There was a steady breeze around. Although I was opening for the first time this season and have been quite eager to do so, all anxiety was settled as soon as we went to the middle. We got some singles going but soon Goldy picked a wrong ball to cut over the infield. He could not clear and had to walk back allowing our pratik and friends in the doughout to get their daggers out quite early :).
Ani walked in one drop and we played out the next 4-5 overs watchfully. Some nice length and swing especially from bowler 2. The fun of batting alongside good players is that you pick tips from them right on the job. And playing with Ani is exactly that. He immediately points out and suggests to get this or that right.
We got some runs (with me unintentionally keeping most of the strike:). and was enjoying my stay. And then up went the finger for the umpteenth time on an LBW call. The ball hit high on my left leg and was going well outside the leg. I dont understand why they give LBW decisions when there is easily a doubt. But the reality is unfortunately in this form of the game it almost feels like the umpire has to give one out once he has denied or called bad on previous occasions..... anyways, in the spirit of the game, I did walk but thoroughly felt robbed on the highway for not being able to continue. Most agreed that was not out but nevertheless we were 17 for 2!
Devin Patel was in next and I have to say he is one of the nicest, most passionate cricketers I have seen. He drives for hours to get to the ground. In Ani and Devin, we had a promising pair in the middle but disaster struck immediately, as Devin played one to point and Ani backed up too fast. A hurting run out claims Ani. 17/3!
Devin is joined by another long range traveller :) Anand (Patel)... these two guys had an important role to play and they did just that. The scoreboard started to tick around and we got to 50/3 in about 12 overs or so.. with Anand and Devin looking all set, but against the run of play Anand mistimed a flick which took the upper edge and went straight to the bowler. Cleveland was in trouble with a lot of overs still remaining but not a big partnership in sight yet.
Kranthi joined Devin. With Devin striking well and Kranthi giving him good support, slowly but steadily we motored to 80 odd. Devin played some delightful shots to both sides and reached his half-century in style with a six over square-leg. The good thing about Devin's batting is the 'awe' factor he presents on the opposition. He likes to dominate the bowlers and picks the right balls to go fetch. Kranthi played some good shots too but ended up skying too often. We took a further slide as we lost Devin (caught), Pratik (caught mistiming a slower ball) and Bala (stumped) in quick time.
At 120 for 8 we were staring at a total well below par. But thats when Gaurav joined hands with Deepak to present one of the best counter-attack efforts. They started off watchfully but grew in strength. Gaurav (with some admiring friends and family members on watch) and Deepak played some excellent shots all over the park and we moved from 120 to 150 to 190! This partnership stunned the opposition and we enjoyed probably one of the best 9th wicket partnerships ever. They scored boundaries freely and ran hard to suck out the game from Troys grasp.
Our innings came to an end in the last over and we got to 212. Gaurav remained unbeaten on 60. At one point we were hoping if we could go past 150. So 212 was certainly an amazing story.
Chasing 213 Troy needed to show a lot of character especially after seeing us turnaround the way we did. Talking of character, I think one of the factors that has kept Cleveland on the top this season is the character and discipline shown individually and as a team whenever the situation demaned it. We have this can-do attitude in whatever we attempt.
Here is an example of how seriously we take our cricket :) - there was a bet going around that Goldy could get the new ball, but for that he had to score more than Pratik. Well, he couldnt have asked for a better deal today (pratik gone for ducky:) !. And so it was Goldy who got to bowl first up. Just so you know, we dont decide opening bowlers this way every time :) .. but we do try to have as much fun as we can.
The Troy openers got to a start but Goldy and Deepak bowled good spells to keep them in check. I had a tough time collecting down leg today especially when Deepak drifted and later when Anand was bowling the ones that turn and bounce away.... nevertheless I need to buck up on that.
Ani brought Anand for an over of spin so he could switch ends for Deepak. Anand ended up getting the wicket of one of the openers to a good catch by Bala in the deep. Honestly this opener did more staring or cursing himself than actually playing ball :). So he got his earful and we were happy to break. Then Deepak showed what a danger he is, with an unplayable ball that took out the middle stump of the new batsman. We got another couple of quick wickets and Troy was around 50 for 4. Not the best fielding day for us with a couple of dropped catches, we kind of let Troy to be in the game. Troy got some good partnerships going.
At second break (28 overs) they needed 90 odd with 4 wickets remaining.
The next 40 odd runs came quick with some good batting by Uday and Dinesh. The left-right partnership did cause some headaches and we were honestly drained as the conditions became humid. But not losing our ground, we continued to toil.
Devin, Ani, Anand and Pratik combined well to slowly clamp them down and we knocked them out with 45 odd runs. Bala (2 catches) and Anand Nadar (2 catches) did well in the field.
With that we keep the win column busy with 6 in a row!!
MOM - Gaurav for a match saving knock of 60 n.o.
PICS from the game (courtesy Gaurav and his friend)
Next week we play Greater Detroit CC. If there is a team that we want to face upto and test, this is it. They have won the league 5 out of the past 6 times. They are aware of how we are doing. So its a contest to look out for...
Monday, July 13, 2009
Congrats to the Khandekar family and we at Cleveland Club have a new member to look forward to.. :).
Thursday, July 2, 2009
- Cleveland: 352 for 4 in 40 overs. [Vignesh - 152 n.o, Anand - 113]\
- Michigan: 72 all out [Chirag - 5.1-0-18-7]
During this record breaking partnership we saw two artists at thier best. They started thier innings watchfully, knocking ones and two's around. And as they settled in, we saw signs of brilliance when Anand played a few lofted drives and Viggy flicked few over square leg or midwicket.
Anand brought up his fifty in style with an excellent drive over covers. And Viggy was not that far away reaching his fifty shortly thereafter. In the doughout, there was constant chit-chatting that we are in for a treat today. Sujay, I and others exchanged confident but subtle views which all pointed to one thing - one of these guys will go on to score a century today and may be both...!
The score moved to around 250 without much fuss. And we just enjoyed an astonishing batting display. Bounadaries and sixes became the norm with singles and two coming occasionally. Sunny and I were padded up, prepared to go in next. And although I was desperate to go and have some batting, I could not help but sit there and hope to see these two guys carry on and get centuries. And so they did, Anand reached to his century and was delighted.
Viggy gave some anxious moments where a couple of his catches were not taken but he went ahead and reached his well deserved century. Luck favors the brave, so they say. And so we saw that day. But knowing Viggy closely, we know that he literally feels guilty when his catch is dropped. We know he does not want any favors from the fielders but on that day he had to go home with a truck load of guilt as almost every fielder that he picked gave him some guilt to take home :)..
The Michigan bowling was abysmal and thoroughly dismantled but what was even more hurting for them was their pathetic fielding. They seemed so far out of touch from the basics, plus the plundering they were getting took out whatever little hope they may have had.
The Michigan team (most of the players are from the Carribeans) did have thier supporters near our doughout. Their accent reminded me of the Marshalls and Holdings (albeit angry :).. It was an interesting experience to sit there and watch them go about their day. With beer flowing and chairs infolded, we heard shouts for the captain to change the field or the bowler or just pure ranting. At times, it was annoying to here this banter especially when we were enjoying such good batting, but we were ok as long as they did not get personal, which to thier credit they did not. Infact they were quite friendly with us. Sujay enjoyed it the most as he was engaged in some wise:) conversations with one of their supporters, who seemed to have taken a liking to Sujay :)...
Back to the game, the partnership went from strong to brutal and when eventually Anand was run out on 113, Cleveland was at 298. At one stage Viggy and Anand had scored 60 odd runs in 4 overs. Anand played a sensible inning, calm and composed generally but equally aggressive when there were opportunities. Viggy on the other hand showcased his talent with some excellent shots to both sides of the wicket. I personally enjoy his flicks or wristy shots on and around the squareleg. He reads the length so well and is in such good position so easily to place the ball where he likes.
Chandu was promoted and played some good shots and then Sunny ended our innings with an effortless Six. Viggy remained unbeaten on 152 after trying several times to get out :)!.
CLEVELAND had reached 352 in 40 overs!!. We had shattered many a record. Personally, I like the fact that two players scored centuries in the same innings. I dont expect to see that soon in our form of the game here.
While we were seeing these delightful innings, Chandu decided to give some desperate :) catch practice to our players. And one of the balls came and hit me on the left wrist as I was getting something from my kit. It was a painful blow, applied some ice and Ani gave some Advil to contain any inflamation but the pain become severe. Some of my hand movements were uneasy and so I decided not to go out in the middle to field. Lambu (Chandu) owes me big time, and yes more than his height.
(update - I went and saw the doc on Monday, he ruled that its a tendon contusion - inflammation and not a fracture, which is a relief. He has put my wrist in a splint and hopefully it should heal in 10 days or so. With no game on the July 4 weekend, I am in luck and hopefully will be fine for the June 12 weekend).
Back to the game, if Viggy and Anand had just caused mayhem with the bat, Chirag took the new ball and just stunned the Michigan batsmen. His run up is so smooth and his wrist position is excellent. I sat there and witnessed an extremely supreme bowling performance. Chirag got good support from Manu, Deepak and Chandu, and the Michigan batting collapsed like a stack of pins. They folded on 72. And the margin of victory was an alarming 276 runs!!
Chirag was identified as the the man of the match but I beleive this game had men of the match in Viggy, Anand and Chirag.
Chirag with the game ball...
Our hosts though their team had lost, treated us to a good meal - sandwiches, rice, chicken curry and daal for the veggies. It was a good gesture and we appreciate it...
4 wins in as many games is quite a momentum but more importantly the scale and margin of this win will probably send some waves into the league. Its a good feeling.
I am not sure if we would ever see such a game in our lifetime. This was truly a remarkable win and regardless of whatever happens going forward in this season, I certainly packed up some good memories!!
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
It was probably the first time in my life that I reached the ground before anyone else. By that you can tell how excited or nervous I was to get on with it. I sat on the pitch (like a hayden or a dravid :) -- just enjoying the calmness before the men in white would come running around disturbing the silence for the upcoming part of the day..
After some delay which allowed for good warm ups, Canton won the toss and decided to bat. Their openers went about the business rather comfortably. Harinder played some good lofted drives. And they were cruising along with around 40 for no loss at around the 10 over mark.
Ani brought in Chirag - who was making his debut for Cleveland - and he immediately responded by getting Harinder to mistime a hit taken by Ani. That same over we affected a run out (Puru to Suhail to Chirag) . Chirag was laughing yet again when he had their captain (Maulesh) LBW.
So Canton , after a good start were 5 down for 70 plus and Cleveland was on top. Then came a good partnership of 50 plus by the Canton sixth wicket pair. Especially we saw some good hitting by Manpreet who played quite well for his 37. During this time Puru and Ani combined to bowl some good overs and eventually the Canton innings folded at 164.
Cleveland chasing 165...
These kind of scores are always tricky in this form of the game. We started quite well. Gaurav and Goldy played sensibly and we had 30 plus for no loss. Goldy was the first to depart to a stunning one handed catch at long off. Gaurav played some nice shots. But Cleveland lost 3 wickets (Gaurav , Puru and Kranthi) rather quicky and were 55/4. The comforting factor being that Ani was at the crease and Pratik, Chandu, Suhail etc still to follow.
With 4 wickets down, Ani called in Chandu, and the pair batted along for a good 30 run partnership. Chandu showed signs to set free but unfortunately we could not see those familiar huge hits.
Ani shows his class...
At the other end, Ani was playing an excellent inning. Calm and assured, he set the tone of the chase with quick singles and twos with the odd boundary. As we touched the halfway mark (82), we lost Chandu. Pratik joined Ani and we entered a crucial stage of the game. Cleveland played sensible cricket and kept the score ticking along with Pratik providing good support to Ani. We crossed the 100 run mark, which is - in such chase - a morale booster. The game was in good balance with 60 odd runs to get in around 15 overs.
Just when we were crusing, Pratik got bowled by an inswinger. With 45 odd runs remaining, I joined Ani and we went about our business without any risks. Ani brought up his well deserved fifty. We were motoring along well and stitched together a quick 25 odd runs with smart ones and twos, until a direct hit got me, attempting a second run.
20 more runs needed with 3 wickets in hand and 6 overs remaining. It was quite tantalizing. And to make it worse, we lost another wicket (Deepak), with 18 or so more to get.
Ani had to farm the strike, which he had been doing quite well all along, but it became even more important now. We were on our toes in the doughout and we witnessed one of the finest batting displays within that short span. As the fielders came in, Ani unleashed some excellent shots over the fielders or in the gaps, taking us close to the target. At the other end Anand played out some nerve-cracking deliveries. Finally, it came, Ani hit the winning runs!! CLCC wins and makes it 3 in a row!
We seem to find a way to make an easy target challenging :). We are playing to be the champion and cannot be putting ourselves in such situations. This is an immensely talented bunch of players and I am sure we will step up and show the way going forward. We know we will..
But for now take a bow Ani, here is to an excellent captains knock!!
Our next game is June 28 against MICC (Carribean) at Toledo....
And me, I could not play the first 2 games as my parents had come visiting from India. We had a memorable time with them. It is so much fun when you have the elders around. It feels so great when you get to sit with them and take a walk down memory lane. Plus they cherish the feeling they get when they see your life from close quarters. Let me tell you phones, emails and cameras cannot replace that feeling. But as all good times have a begin and end date, parents had to return. Hope they will be back soon.
Meanwhile, did I miss the cricket field??... heck ya..!!
Its been 8 months since I played the last season and it indeed was a big break. And so there was a lot to catch up to - physically and mentally. I hit the running trails, the tennis courts and a few swims to get back to some sort of shape.
And then I went to our regular Wednesday evening practice session, where I ran into the brutal but passionate mate Nikunj (who btw is the captain of the 'midwest' team). He smilingly put me through my paces. I did get a chance to bat a few overs. I could feel the rustiness but a few good hits and it started to feel OK.
Last year, I took up the responsibility to keep wickets as we had lost the services of our regular WK. I guess I was not bad, and so this year my team is banking on me to step up and don the gloves behind the stumps. Do I need more motivation to get fit. I dont think so.
So, here is to fitness and to an injury free season...
We go into game 3 with 2 wins in a row and Game 3 is with Canton Royals @ Cleveland. Canton has been undefeated so far this season.
So it seems like a good match-up and lets see who comes up triumphant....
Monday, June 22, 2009
This season, Cleveland Cricket Club has selected two teams. One team plays in the Michigan League (MichCA) and the other plays at the Midwest Tournament.
MichCA hosts a 40 over league. with teams from MI and OH. This league has two divisions, Div1 and Div 2. Cleveland is slotted in Div 1. This division has the eight best teams from the region competing to become the Division Champion.
A 40-over game on lush green fields, a red ball and players in traditional whites, what a fantastic sight. To top it all, I am lucky to have the best view on the field (behind the stumps) . And I would like to share this view with you. Hope you enjoy it.
Welcome to the Stump View...