Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wrapping Grand Rapids..

I got news that, on June 26, we will be playing ‘hosts’ to Grand Rapids on a ‘new’ cricket ground in Canton. Anytime you are driving to a new field or to a field that you have never played cricket on, there is a sense of excitement and happiness that the game you love most is spreading and growing.

Then when you drive around a park – it was called the Heritage Park - with umpteen fields – baseball, soccer, basketball etc – it makes you even more eager. As you drive around this park you come to a crowded parking lot. The anticipation grows. The lush green ageless tall trees provide even more encouragement and build up. You park and begin a brisk walk through the walking trail, eager to see it – the cricket field..

As you mound your way up and close to the cricketing ‘area’, suddenly all that excitement and joy comes to a grinding halt and converts to sheer disappointment. This is just sad. All the promising 15 minutes fade and it is sad to see that a small piece of land is allocated to cricket, with no decent room for boundary. If something is better than nothing then yes it is something. But I wish cricket was given some importance. I am sure the people involved in putting this place together may have tried their best and succeeded to whatever they could land their hand on. So not taking anything away from the folks who put this ground up to play but I wish there was more room and justice for cricket in such a setting...

Well, enough about the ground, and game should go on... Due to bad weather and delayed start, it was a reduced 35-over game.

We batted first and opened with a new pair – Chirag and Suraj. Unfortunately, Suraj did not last long. Pratik walked in one-down for his first game of the season with us. He is a vital cog in our wheel and the conditions seemed ideal for him to get his eye in. He played a nice chip over the midwicket in his cool and casual style but unfortunately could not time another loft well and holed out. Bad blow for the team and more so for Pratik but I am sure he will be eager to harvest some time and runs come next game.

Viggy joined Chirag for what ended up being a trailblazing partnership. Chirag played freely from the get go, with clean hits over long on, midwicket and straight down the ground. Viggy had bat and timing issues to deal with initially but eventually set into his usual self with an elegant and assuring knock.

Cleveland was cruising consistently at a rate of above 7 an over. Chirag fell after a well-made 67. And Manu was promoted so we can silence him up :)…. But he came back soon cramped up for room to play his shot. Navdeep went in and played sensibly picking his shots and spots.

At 140 odd in about 20 overs, we were eyeing a huge score as we still had about 15 overs and 6 wickets in hand. Viggy along with Navdeep kept up the scoring and we were 180 odd in 27 overs. Viggy fell after a good 60 runs. I went in to join Navdeep and we continued to keep the score board busy. But Navdeep was stumped out for 20.

Chandu walked in and we knew it could be his day as it’s been long time coming. With the conditions ideal for his kind of hitting, he played out some balls and he and I rotated well for 15 odd runs. But I was needlessly run-out attempting a risky one. I drove to long-off and was running to the danger end but didn’t realize Chandu had not taken off. And by the time our calls matched up I had come too far down the track and could not return. But Chandu continued on and we sensed something big was in the making.

....[chandu pic here]..

With 6 or so overs remaining and 7 wickets down, usually the bowlers think they have had already faced tackled all the batsmen and they are eager to wrap up the overs. And in comes Chandu and shocks them out of their socks. He pasted the bowlers to all sides specially the long on, midwicket fence. And they had no answer. When big-hitters get going field setting or size does not matter and that’s exactly what we saw. In a matter of 20 odd balls Chandu passed his half century with awesome strikes and running :) and our score touched 258 in 35 overs.

Chasing 258 in 35 overs is tough on any day. It becomes even tougher when you have been drilled to all parts of the ground. The Grand Rapid openers looked good to begin with and played some good shots but our opening bowlers Manu and Deepak didn’t allow too much room, especially Manu bowling his accurate line and length. And once we got the initial breakthrough there was no looking back. We kept getting wickets at regular intervals. And with rain in the forecast, our slow blowers (Ishant, Murali, and Viggy) operated most of the starting 18 overs to ensure game is on.

All the bowlers bowled well with some being unlucky not to get more wickets. But overall it was a good performance. I kept wickets with new Kookaburra Neon gloves  and new pads. Did get a simple catch behind the stumps but need to improve on leg side collection. Hopefully it will improve after the Soccer World Cup when I stop seeing goal-keepers.

Grand Rapids was wrapped up in 23 overs for 105.

Post-game, I overheard the Grand Rapids captain talking highly of certain Canton players and their stats and that we need to watch out etc but honestly we treat every team with dignity per merit on any given day and play every game with equal seriousness. Unfortunately this season and humbly speaking with no disrespect to any team, we have not faced a stiff competitor yet this season. Of course every game presents some challenges and we are not bigger than the game but I must admit we have not come across a team that looked threatening enough to blow us off. And we eagerly look forward to playing against Canton.

But before that game we have a game against Metro Detroit CC at Cleveland on July 10 and we look forward to that encounter and make no mistake we are in no mood to give up the winning habit.



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