Thursday, July 30, 2009


I enjoyed reading this article by Akash Chopra -


Monday, July 27, 2009

Fighting the elements..

At the onset, let me say that Cleveland OH is amzingly consistent in its inconsistent weather conditions. Moreover, this year it seems as if Fall has come before Summer.. see what a recession can do :)

So, July 25, Saturday perhaps had the most awaited clash of the league. Cleveland CC vs Greater Detroit CC. We knew through the week that there was a big chance of rain on that day. But given the true nature of these two teams, every effort was made to ensure that the elements would not take away the fun. To begin with, GDCC was sporting enough to have a game start of 9:30 am which meant that they would need to start from the Detroit area around about 6 am!

When we reached the ground, the conditions were unrelenting, dark clouds and extremely windy with rain imminent and then it started to drizzle steadily. But at a distance we could see some silver lining! and it truly was one, that came our way and with wind playing its part, the clouds began to open a bit, and we ceased the opportunity. Game on.

We huddled quickly and had a chat, if we wanted to bowl or bat. Conditions begged that we bowl first but Duckworth-Lewis meant we didnt want to chase a moving target. Anyways at the spin of the toss that dilemma was of little importance as GDCC won the toss and decided to bat, and methinks they decided to take on the natural elements rather than face the man-made rules/ moving targets.

The match was reduced to a 35 over game.

Chirag opened the bowling and the first ball I collected was above my shoulders! :). The wind was behind the bowlers and that remained the case all through the morning. Their openers did face our fast bowling quite bravely to get some good runs on the board. We got the first breakthrough when Deepak bowled a beauty - a smart incutter which swung in a yard and hit the timber helped by the inner edge. To add to the natural elements our fielding was electrifying. We constantly kept up the pressure.

Anand, Devin and Vignesh combined to bowl well. Vignesh especially was razor sharp in accuracy, bowling an extremely tight line and lenght, giving them no room to play thier shots and we kept breaking partnerships at crucial points. Minal, Faisal and Shahid did play well to form some partnerships that were beginning to threaten but we got them before they got big on us. GDCC folded at 139 in a shade under 35 overs.

This was a remarkable performance on the field restricting the contenders down. Deepak I must say has a golden arm. This guy throws sharp and hit nothing but the danda on two occasions and both times he beat the batsmen from reaching home. Amazing work. Lagtah hai goliyaan bahaut kheylee hai isney..

as for me, I actually enjoyed the day behind the stumps. Honestly, its darn hard work and I admire the guys that do it like a job. Its a learning experience and I know I can do better. But today, I must say the wind was quite challenging and if you have contacts on, the conditions seem even more windy :)! ..

So with 140 to chase in 35 overs and the constant fear of rain on our mind, we set out on the task with Pratik and Goldy to open. I must say Pratik was desperate for a biggy and I hoped this be the day. He and Goldy set the tone briefly but Goldy seemed in a hurry too often and holed out. Anand was one down and he was taken out quite quickly with an excellent catch in the gully. CLCC was in spot of bother with 20/2. Ani joined Pratik. They set out to ensure we reach home safely. Pratik was slowly getting into his grove and they both played sensible cricket. I got a chance to watch our chase from a close range as the leg-umpire designate of our team. Runs came in one and twos with the odd boundary. GDCC had some good bowlers but I think our fielding was much more stronger on that day.

Pratik and Ani did escape some scares - with a couple of close runout chances and a catch or two but remained determined in their approach. There was one particular moment that GDCC must still be in remorse for. It happened when GDCC appealed for a caught behind on Ani. Minal was the bowler and the umpire ruled it as not out. It was a huge appeal, and they seemed to have got their man and were quite adamant about it. They looked at me but I remained ummoved, suggesting that the main umpire has to call it and if he needs he can consult with me. He did not consult. And there ends the matter. In such games some decisions go your way and some dont. Thats part of this game and you have to live with it. In retro, honestly I did hear a sound, but thankfully I was not the one to make the call.

Pratik reached his well-deserved half century and he was a relieved man. On the other side, Ani played some excellent shots, my particular favorite was a pull for a max, perfectly in control. Just when we thought we had it all well wrapped up, Ani mistimed and was caught. The partnership a solid 90 odd. We neeed another 50 to get and plently of batting to come. But we alarmingly lost Deven, Viggy and Manu in matter of just some runs and few overs and we were suddenly in some trouble. We somehow have this knack of making every chase a challenging one. This is quite bothering. But Pratik still in the middle and we batting deep, I was still confident we will overcome and we did just that with Pratik hitting a timely six and Gaurav chipping in with needed support.

And consider this - just a few minutes after the game ended, it began to pour. What timing!! Fighting a contender is certainly in our hands but having the mother nature on your side is quite an amazing event. Thank you god!

Pratik the MOM, remained unbeaten on 60 odd and more importantly he carried his bat all the way. I am sure he enjoyed it as much as we did. And I am sure he must be really happy to be where he likes - right amoungst the runs. Just a gentle reminder, he was the top batsmen of the league last year! :) .

Its 7 in a row and winning is a good habit!! :)

miyaan personally, its quite disppointing I am not getting to bat that much this season. With the lineup we have and with so many options to try and keeping all happy etc, your wishes take a back seat. And understandably so, team comes first. Amidst the fast flying time, and missing practice, thanks partly to work-related travel and partly to our lovely cleveland weather, I really miss batting. Plus, Aug 17/18, marks the beginning of Ramadan - a month of fasting - that would mean another 4 weeks of no cricket. No good, no good. But mere dost, C'est la vie:)..


SCORECARD from the game.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Raising the bar!!

Game 6 vs Troy Eagles @ Beaty Park, Toledo....

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

A win is not a win...

When you have a momentum like what we have nowadays - undefeated yet this year and with 4 excellent wins in a row - there is a greater hunger to go out in the middle and continue grounding the opponents. Add a holiday weekend break in there and the excitement grows.

So we eagerly awaited to play Farmington Cricket Club on Sunday July 12, at our home ground. Whats special about Farmington? - well this was the team that had halted our march last year, as we lost to them in the semi finals. And we dont forget such losses. Period.

So all of us were anxious to get with them and correct out the equation and settle some scores.

As for me, my wrist was still in the splint but most of the pain had subsided and I was feeling quite well. So we assessed the situation on Friday and decided that I should play. With plans to take some pain reliever just in case needed.

By Saturday night the team was all set and the match logistics - food/drinks - etc all worked to the T.

And then comes a call, that all good teams and captains dread to take, Farmington was forfeiting the game!! Reason given was lack of players on their side. Ani said he did try his best to encourage the opponent captain to play but did not work. Shahid bhai, the Chairman of the MichCA governing body also apologised on behalf of the league.

But all said and done, the game was sent to the books without a ball being played. We won but we hate such wins. We would rather play it out and earn the win rather than get such points. But life goes on and so we roll with 5 wins and sitting strong at the top of the table.

We play Troy Eagels next at Toledo on July 19...

NEW member joins our club !!! -

Ani and Pallavi were blessed with Ishaan in the early hours of July 6, 2009. And I should say Ishaan has good temparement (delayed his outcome ;-) and got his timing all set from the get picking a time that worked perfectly for pappa Ani... :)

Ishaan Khandekar born 07-06-09...
We went to see Ishaan. A cute guy with handsome looks! watchout Cleveland girls..

Congrats to the Khandekar family and we at Cleveland Club have a new member to look forward to.. :).



Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ohh Toledo!!!

Game 4 at Beaty Park in Toledo, OH..
Try and grasp these figures, coz if there was ever a time when numbers can say it all, this is it......

  • Cleveland: 352 for 4 in 40 overs. [Vignesh - 152 n.o, Anand - 113]\
  • Michigan: 72 all out [Chirag - 5.1-0-18-7]
Cleveland won the toss and decided to bat. Our first 59 runs came at the cost of 3 wickets, with Gaurav getting out early. Goldy - after showing some signs of a big innings- played across the line and was declared LBW, little did he know what he was gonna miss out on:). And Ani hitting straight to a fielder. But that brought Vignesh and Anand together in the middle. And for the next 239 runs they did not separate! Lets enjoy this ride.

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.

Personally these two fellas are so soft-spoken and gentle that no one envisioned how brutal they could be with the willow in hand. Deepak, our designated scorer had an extremely busy day at office, as these two guys accelerated the scoring rate. Runs were coming at such hectic pace that the Michigan players forgot what hustling was all about. Their bowling was erratic to begin with but these two purists left their bowlers thoroughly clueless. And their fielders seemed to be no more than just spectators.
Anand (in Nautica) and Viggy..

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...

Good hosts...

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!!