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 bad...it 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