Monday, May 24, 2010

Make it 3!

Sunday May 23 was our third league round game. This was against a highly rated team - Greater Toledo CC. The venue was the Beatty Park at Toledo.

When we reached the ground, the outfield was quite wet and the bowler’s run-up areas had puddles of water. Not a good sight. But the good news was weather expected to be in the 80's all day and sun beating down. So the anticipation was it would get better. This was a 'home' game for GTCC and so they brought in saw-dust and mulch etc to make the playing areas playable... especially the run-ups/wk areas. And since one area side of the wickets was relatively was decided to play from only the better side..

The toss was going to be tricky. to bat first or not is always confusing in such conditions... But luckily for Viggy, he lost the toss and so the deciding was to be done by GTCC and they put us in. And I think I would have done the same (inserted the opposition in and chase with slightly faster/dry outfield).

The start was delayed by 45 minutes; Sunny and Kranti were set to open our batting. But the pair had to deal with the swinging ball in slow ground conditions. Unfortunately the scoreboard did not see much movement in the first 5 over’s…runs coming in mostly 1’s and the odd 2’s.

Sunny seemed to have come to terms – with a swivel pull shot, which ‘stopped’ near the ropes, but soon he played across and missed, LBW was the call, and unfortunately for him, the decision seemed tough as the ball was probably going over the wickets. Kranti also couldn’t get going as he chipped one straight down gully’s throat.

Gaurav went in 1-drop and was joined by Devin (playing his first game of the season). But before we could see Devin blossom, he played all over and inswinging full deliver that rattled the stumps. Viggy and Gaurav had to play in and get us to stability but the slow outfield and some bad calling ended up causing a run out. With Gaurav back under the tree, the score was around 35 for 4 in 12 or so overs. Not a good start by any means.

Sujay and Viggy then played in but the runs were still hard to come. The outfield played a huge role as a large number of possible singles/twos got converted to dots. Sujay tried to break the shackles by hitting a few good lofted shots, which unfortunately landed deep but stay put right where they landed. Nevertheless, Sujay got some 20 odd runs before getting out.

Chirag and Ishan (just fresh from some 20-over action) were padded to boost the score/break the bowling rhythm but unfortunately that didn’t help much. Chirag caught behind and CLCC was in deep trouble – 85 odd for 6 wickets and still about 14-15 overs remaining. Soon Ishan too was back. And I went to join Viggy. And the thoughts of the first game were flying past my mind (where we at the same ground, were 80 odd for 5 but Ani and I were to able to build a good one). I believed we still can do the same as Viggy was settled in and we had Bunny and Deepak still to come.

But we had a blow when Viggy was caught while trying to force the pace. Unfortunately we did not take the power play then (and in hindsight we should have). Nevertheless, Bunny joined me and I told him we have 10 overs to bat, you will not get that in practice. Our target – 6 to 8 runs an over. We did that for a couple of over’s, rotating and running well. I was seeing and timing the ball well. And so we debated about the power play. We decided to take it and that kind of helped and we ended up scoring another 20 odd runs in 3 over’s. Not bad.

Bunny and I had taken us from 90 odd to 135 plus and with another 4 over’s remaining, I was confident we will get another 30 odd runs. And with the outfield the way it was and with our bowling strength I reckoned 160 was a good score on that day.

But unfortunately the first ball of the next over, Bunny played across and was bowled. Slightly pre-determined shot that but a costly mistake. Deepak was unable to resist the spinner and was stumped. We folded at 137. And hurting to have missed out on 3 crucial over’s. I wish we had stuck around. And since I was timing well, I wish I played more balls.

Nevertheless we had 137 to defend and believe me that is tricky total on such a day or anyday for that matter as the batting side sees that as easily attainable and may end up slightly relaxed and on the flip side the bowlers know they are defending a small total so they try and give (in good teams) that extra bit.

With all humility I must say that winning the championship definitely changes your mindset. It makes you believe that you can win from anywhere and that belief is exactly what we displayed throughout the hot and humid afternoon.

Viggys’ onset message was clear and simple, an all-out attack, no use trying to save runs. So mission – let’s go get 10 wickets.

Deepak, Sujay, Chirag combined to bowl with aggressive pace and Devin, Viggy and Ishan providing provided the slow cutting edge. And every one gave their best to keep the score in check. Their captain (John Jacobs) is well known match winner but we did well to restrict him. Deepak’s inswingers did not give him room and almost always he mistimed his swipes. Chirag then fooled him brilliantly with a beautiful slower one which hit John on the full. He did not like the LBW decision but he was a goner. And we knew we had chance.

Some of the middle order batsmen looked good and threatened to take it away but situations like these is
what Devin comes to love. I remember, in 2007 (or maybe it was 06), Cleveland Team 2 had reached the semi finals of the Midwest tournament. We were playing ECC and Devin was playing for ECC then. We got ECC allout for 130 (yep ironically it was 130 odd). And we knew that we can chase it down with the batting we had. But Devin foiled us by dishing out slow turners and closing out the boundaries. We fell agonizingly short by 10 or so runs. And that was mainly due to the confidence Devin had provided to his team.

Coming back to yesterday, here he was again but the good news this time around was that he was in our team  and I his deceptive slow bowling was hard to tackle. Ishan (left arm orthodox spin) was bowling really well too. He is making a debut here and I feel if guided, we will certainly be a valuable asset to the team. They kept getting the breakthroughs and we slowly but surely were chipping away – at the wickets.

They eventually folded for 100 odd. Devin – 4, Ishan – 2, Chirag – 2 got the wickets but I think every bowler deserved wickets as each bowled well.

Kudos to all our bowlers for a terrific performance. But there are a lot of lessons to learn. And I think this win as well as the situation we were in this game will teach us well.

This game – Cricket - is the best teacher!

May 24, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Take 2, Win 2

Saturday (May 15) - we played and beat Motown at Lyon Oaks.

Score - Cleveland: 224 (Goldy 50+, Sujay 44, Puru 30) beat Motown 140 odd.

I will update this blog with details... .gtg now..

Game 1, Win 1...

After a long long wait, we finally played our 2010 season opener at Toledo on Sunday May 9th. Against Michigan Cricket Club.

It was not a 'sun'day at all. Cold and windy lower 50's, not ideal cricketing weather but we will take that over a rainy day. So began our journey to defend our championship.

Note - Ani (who captained us last year) has decided to return to India for good. But before he leaves, he is able to get some games under the belt. We wish him well. Viggy (Vignesh) is our new captain. Good luck and I am sure he will be an inspiration.

Toss - Viggy won the toss and decided to bat first. Reasoning - the wet outfield will make bowling and fielding quite challenging. And give ourselves 40 overs to bat...

Goldy and Sujay opened the innings and were treated to some excellent pace bowling especially from one of their opening bowlers (Pedro). He is a true West Indian bowler, perfect rhythymic action and delivers at a good line/lenght and pace. He got one to get through Goldy's defence and on the other end Sujay nicked one soon to the keeper. Not a good start.

Ani went one down and was joined by Bunny at the fall of Sujay's wicket. Bunny's is playing his first season with our team (he has played for our other team before). They both rotated the strike well and seem to be settling in. The score at this time: .

Viggy stopped by and he and I had a chat about specific roles he had in mind. For me, he wanted me to play lower in the order and ensure we have stability there. rotate the strike, play well with big hitters. That way the upper order can play freely.

In the middle the score was ticking slowly, with a wet outfield and with this being the first game, batsmen needed time to adjust, get settled in and roll. Bunny, unfortunately lost his wicket after spending some good time in the middle. Viggy sent in Gaurav, but he could not get going and played on. Suddenly we had lost 4 wickets with not much on the board. Viggy then joined Ani.

This was going to be a crucial pair. And as they have done several times, were playing sensibly. Ani was certainly moving his feet well and timing the ball. Several of his hits landed and stayed put near the ropes.
Viggy looked good with a wristly boundary over square leg. But when the score was about 89 we lost Viggy too. Big blow that.

I joined Ani. And I felt confident going knowing exactly what I had to do and what we needed as a team. And we began to rebuild our innings. Ani, who was well set scoring freely and I dropped anchor to ensure stability. I must say, I felt good, although was not playing the shots clean and timing well but nevertheless I knew it was not important as long as I dont play a silly shot. And as long as I stayed on the ball.

We rotated the strike to perfection. Ani brought up his well deserved 50. And stepped up the pace thereafter, playing some good shots all over the park, especially square and around the cow-corner. We took 3 to 5 overs at a time., targeting to get about 6 or 8 an over. We went about our job. Ani looked all set for a ton and he did it with style! - well done and wll timed, some excellent shots and his timing was absolutely fun to watch. And as he did that we moved out of danger and knew that we were looking for a good score. Ani eventually was out for caught brilliantly in the deep. He made 135 memorable runs.

Our partnership was a calm and assured 100 plus runs and in hindsight a game changer. Enjoyed every minute of it.

Chandu, Navdeep, Kranthi and I saw through the last few over of our innings and we ended up at 258/8.

Michigan did not offer to much as a batting unit. Except for a couple of batsmen who played in for some time. Our bowling looked good but fielding was certainly ways to go. As the next games come up, hope we get better on the field. At the end Michigan managed onto 124 allout.

The cold and blistering weather was a tough one to deal with. But the hosts treated us to a post-match meal (steaming hot rice, daal and west indies chicken curry) - they always have been a fun host. very friendly and unique love for the game. By the end of the game we had about 30 or odd spectators all talking in typically Jamican/West Indian accent and huddled into high-pitched conversations. Always enjoy playing this team. And they congratulated us for a good game.... and so began our drive back to town!

All was happy and well until the next day or so when the body started acting up... sore from the running between and behind the wickets ....:but all is well that begins with a win :)!! ..


Monday, May 10, 2010

Welcome to Season 2010

A new summer, a new season and some new goals....

The long winding Cleveland winter seems to have finally given way for the much awaited summer. And with that it freshens up the passion for some cricket action. Hope we all have a good season ahead. Lets enjoy the journey....

I hope to keep this blog updated as much as possible but finding time between loved ones, work, travel, weekend games etc sometimes become tough. I will try nevertheless to blog up.

May 10/10