Another scorching hot day in London, the match, conditions and personnel meant it could have taken place in Bridgetown Barbados or Eden Gardens!
This was a titanic, see-saw battle that had everything
PPCC won the toss and opted to field
It was White Star who paid homage to the stereotypical West Indian laid back nature by turning up late and playing the game at a snails pace.
They did however make batting look like a stroll in the park
Despite great effort from our opening bowlers Kunal and Dharmesh we could not break the shackles and White Star laid a very good foundation from which to attack
They stepped up the run rate as our opening bowlers ended their first spells and then went up a gear against our first change bowlers Junior and H
Junior then had a good patch where he found a length and finally broke the deadlock with a crucial deserved wicket
Their other opening batsman looked a class apart, piercing the infield with crisp cover drives, hitting good balls for four.
The sun was out, the track was flat and the scene was set for an onslaught
We temporarily delayed this onslaught when I picked up the wicket of the opener bowled behind his legs. Our luck however decided to take a break and not reappear until after the 30th over
Their middle order slashed, slogged and flayed their way through the middle overs as balls dropped just over fielders heads, just short or were dropped (I missed two caught and bowled) and Sabs missed a difficult chance off me in the deep
Our ground fielding (Junior being the exception) resembled the India team of the 1990's. White Star were batting like the legendary Windies teams of the past
As heads were dropping and bodies sagging we needed a leader, a man to inspire, a man to re-energise our lethargic legs
Enter our skipper and an inspired piece of captaincy
Vijay brought himself on bowling his liquorice allsorts spin of floaters, flighters and slower than slow balls.
He bamboozled the opposition with guile and cunning resulting in 5, yes 5 wickets for our skipper. The icing on the cake being a tremendous hat trick (possibly the first in Priory history?) White Star did not know what had hit them
Combined with some great death bowling from Dharmesh who completed 8 very good overs and H taking a leaf out of Vijay's book and bowling some Anil Kumble like fast spin we restricted them to 213 after they looked like they would go on to score 250+
So to the chase...
In typical West Indian style White Star opened the bowling with two tall quicks. One of whom was very good, skiddy like Malcolm Marshall. He blew away our top order and within 8 overs we were three wickets down. Sabs was unlucky to get a ball which kept low, Sandeep and Hambo clean bowled by a mixture of line and swing.
Vijay entered the fray and licked his lips when they brought on a bowler with a similar style to his own bowling. Unfortunately he played a loose shot and the bowler took a simple return catch
We were under pressure, however this was a match full of surprise and Vijay's wicket brought together the first of our two heroic batting partnerships
They resembled a Dravid and Sehwag, but for these great names read Punit and H, a tortoise and a hare but it was exactly what we needed
Punit held the innings together with some excellent technical defence, strong drives and elegant glances, whilst he accumulated his way to a well made 49 H accelerated to a quick fire 34 which gave the innings the momentum it needed
When H held out we were 95-5 and still 118 runs short of our victory target needing around 6 runs an over to win
The second of our heroic partnerships was between myself and Priory new boy Dharmesh. We played sensibly against their two decent bowlers taking 5-6 an over off them and then battered their spinners and medium pacers to death with some thunderous hitting
Dharmesh was very quick between the wickets testing my dodgy fitness and pushing the scoring rate along the way
The pendulum had truly swung back in our favour and this topsy turvy affair was now in our grasp
As the light faded, the White Stars looked jaded
Victory came with 3 overs and 3 wickets to spare, I finished with 45 not out and Dharmesh a 20/20 style 29 not out
A terrific game and a splendid victory for Priory. A real team effort with contributions all round
Well done to the skipper Vijay, his first of many victories as captain