Monday, August 3, 2009

Game8 - A stutter not bad!

Saturday - the first day of August, we travelled to Fsrmington (Detroit) MI for our 8th game. We were playing the Oakland Univ Cricket Club.

The ballpark was lush green, weed-free and purely inviting. A bit on the heavy side and the morning dew adding to the heaviness. Some additional mowing would have made the outfield cricket friendly. The pitch - placed in the midst of two soccer fields - was not really ideal. Slightly inclined at one end and seemed to have uneven bounce.

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.


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