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Lankian v PPCC 16th May 2015 - Match Report by Kunal Vasa

Lankian v PPCC 16th May 2015 - Match Report by Kunal Vasa

By Mehul JNR Patel
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‘Little Master’


It is often said that good things come in small packages. PPCC truly found its pocket dynamo today as unbridled potential turned into actual performance from PPCC’s newest icon player Tejas Thakkar
The scene was set, a glorious Saturday afternoon, a strong team and the Lankians were in town.
Forget India v Pakistan, Arsenal v Spurs, Ali v Frasier or Real Madrid v Barcelona, PPCC v Lankians is the cricketing el classico of our times

Despite being the fiercest of rivals PPCC went out of their way to help the wayward and lackadaisical Lankians. The perpetually unreliable Lankians turned up an hour late, took an eternity to set up the ground and then had the audacity to ask for two fielders. Were these mind games to shake up the opposition, PPCC’s new captain for the season Sandeep Nair was clearly unaffected as he graciously offered two of Priory’s finest Dharmesh and Junior to field for them in return for a toss win. Priory continued their winning strategy of the season and opted to bat first

Much has been said about the art of captaincy, from the varying degrees of Steve Waugh’s war cries to Mike Brearley’s ability to get the best out of people and Ganguly’s methods of an us against the world approach. Priory’s Sandeep Nair has a bit of the Dermot Reeve revolutionary style about him, a flexible and dynamic tinkerer.

He opened with Tejas and Vasa. Tejas has been so consistent in his performances this season that he has cemented the opening spot as his own, Vasa opening was more of an experiment based on last years runs and something the skipper saw in the nets. Half of the experiment worked, Vasa was undone by a slower ball and bowed out for a disappointing duck. Tejas in contrast was in tremendous form. Everything in his technique was in sync illustrated by his straight six off their opening bowler which was pure class

Priory’s skipper joined Tejas and they created a formidable partnership. This is exactly what the captain had in mind, rotating the strike, attacking the loose deliveries and building momentum in what was now a reduced 35 over game. An excellent partnership of 91 ensued helped by some increasingly wayward Lankian bowling. As Sandeep and Tejas got stronger you could see the confidence sap away from the Lankian team. Sri Lankans, normally renowned for their unity and fighting above their weight for such a small island turned on each other as wide after wide was bowled in what turned out to be a pivotal 60 extra’s given away by the fielding side

From nowhere with Priory in cruise control Sandeep chased a wide delivery off their military medium pacer and edged to the keeper. The sense of relief from the Lankians was evident, Priory’s skipper was in and middling most deliveries. The fall of Priory’s skipper did not dent the ‘little master’ Tejas appetite for big runs. He continued on his merry way with some luscious stroke play after being joined by Priory’s Mr consistent Vijay Jani at number 4. Vijay generally brings a sense of calmness to the crease and a 48 run partnership was built with the uttermost ease as Priory accumulated their way to a commanding 148-2, a strong base with plenty of overs left

The game changed with the dismissal of Priory’s talisman this year, Tejas who had played a beautiful innings took a swing at a straight ball and was clean bowled. Priory’s adjustments in the batting order was now exposed as regular opener Punit came in at number 5 needing to play a different sort of innings than he is normally accustomed too. With that little bit of doubt confusion crept in and the normally calm Jani ran out the normally stressed Jani. I am sure the readers will identify who is who. Punit unluckily headed back to pavilion, his displeasure was there for all to see, the calmer Jani knew it would be his round first when they both enter the bar later in the evening

From 148-2 Priory collapsed to 196 all out. Shades of the England teams of the 90’s were evoked with confusion in the ranks and some rash strokes played as Priory did not know whether to stick or twist. Vijay, Gaurav and Dharmesh all perished in quick succession and after the fall of Priory’s mercurial MP3 they were in danger of not batting out the overs. Luckily the team bat deep and when Junior entered the fray it was clear that he had a strong pre-season in the nets. He played some gloriously times shots that a number 4 would be proud of, pulling cutting and driving his way to some crucial runs. Crucial support was given to the big all rounder at the other end Hitesh who was in his usual savage mood and bludgeoned his way to 13 before being run out for the team’s cause in the last ball of the innings. Priory 196 all out in 35 overs.

The tea was about the only professional aspect of the day from a Lankian perspective as they put on a nice spread of sandwiches. Unfortunately this is where their credibility ended as they spent the rest of the day changing the rules of cricket with some shocking umpiring decisions that led to several Mike Gatting and Shakoor Rana comparisons.
Priory came out to field with purpose. The captain is lucky this year to have an array of bowling options at his disposal with genuine left armers supported by at least 4 all rounders in the side. How the captain rotated his bowlers and made the subtle changes required would be crucial on this batting featherbed. Hitesh and Kuni opened up and started well. The big all rounder found his range and gave very little away, despite not taking any wickets an economy rate of 4.5 was very respectable in what was to be a high scoring affair.

Kuni grabbed two very important wickets, he did have luck on his side but bowlers will always say their wickets are deserved and Kuni who has been previously on the wrong side of lady luck definitely deserved his two wickets. The second, a strangle down the leg side was smartly taken by the skipper behind the stumps. Although 2 wickets had fallen the Lankians clearly did not want to hang around and they were keeping up with the run rate as Kuni finished his spell at a respectable 6 an over. The debate over whether he should bowl over the wicket or round the wicket would continue into the night and beyond…

We have not seen much of R Roshan at the crease and his knowledge of the pitch and conditions seemed beyond his years. With support from their middle order Roshan and friends carved through the bowling changes forced upon by the Priory skipper. Vasa went for 7 an over, Dharmesh 8 and Junior 9 as Roshan attacked the shorter boundary to devastating effect. Bad balls were being punished six and good balls were being slogged for 4 as Priory had no answer to this sort of aggression. Indeed it was the first time this season that real pressure had been applied to the ranks of the Priory 11, could they get going when the going got tough, did they have the mental strength and confidence to see a tight game through.

During the carnage of Roshan’s Jayasuriya esque innings Priory kept the pressure on at the other end by continuing to take wickets. Vasa and Dharmesh picked up one each but it was Priory’s strength in depth in their bowling department that changed the game. The embarrassment of riches at Sandeep’s disposal allowed him to bring back his lethal weapon MP3 along with Priory’s little master who can bowl accurately at a skiddy pace. MP3 is a special player, there are very few cricketers in the world that can turn up to an important game with no pre season or training and seamlessly start where he left off in his previous match. He turns up, turns his arm over, takes wickets for fun and has the opposition in a constant spin. The variations are subtle but from an analytical view it is the changes of pace and length that distinguishes MP3 from other spinners. With shouts of ‘spin those tunes’ from his team mates MP3 had such control that he only conceded 17 runs in 7 tight and dramatic overs of spin
MP3 not only controls the run rate he takes key wickets. To this point Roshan was still manipulating the game, a fielder was moved and he simply hit the next ball in the gap where the fielder had moved away from. We had no answer. What we did have was MP3
As the skipper made a brave decision to toss the ball back to MP3 the rewards were game changing. You underestimate MP3 at your peril and Roshan’s over confidence brought him down the track and he was clean bowled. Priory were in raptures, they were given a lifeline.

Still only 20 odd runs were needed with plenty of overs left and enough Lankian batting in the hut. Priory seized on this opportunity and sensed blood. Another bold captaincy move brought Tejas to the fray and Priory’s talisman did not disappoint, bowling full Yorkers at the death with ease. This is no easy thing to do especially when the batsmen are looking to attack, Tejas displayed composure that was quickly passed through to all his team mates. There was a real sense of belief in the Priory team that the game could still be won

The unity and belief this year is evident in Priory’s fielding. Newly appointed fielding coach Punit ‘Jonty’ Jani led by example with a catch and game changing run out. Another catch in the deep was taken by Vasa and Dharmesh made his most significant contribution with two runs outs. The difference was everyone was contributing; people who failed with the bat came up trumps with the ball, people who failed with ball contributed massively in the field. This team ethic had all but deserted the Lankians who were relying on individual performances to take them home. This was not to be as with only 4 runs needed in the last over it was left to that man again to win the game for Priory

Under the most intense pressure Tejas bowled the final over with the precision of a carpenter cutting through wood. Priory’s little master finished the day with 3.4 overs for just 9 runs and a crucial wicket, not to forget his glorious knock of 56 the man of the match adjudicator had an easy day. Well done Tejas, well done Priory, a sensational victory grabbed from the jaws of defeat.
This was a great day for cricket, even members of the opposition said the better, fairer team had won. Bilateral ties between these two teams remain tense and today’s fractious game did little to encourage those wanting future games, surely the cricketing rivalry and sporting theatre of these matches demands a return game

Man of the Match - Tejas Thakkar

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Match details

Match date

Tue 19, May 2015

Kickoff

13:30

Meet time

01:00