PPCC arrived travelled south of the River to Long Ditton where we were hoping to win our fifth game on the trot. Sandeep won the Toss and stuck with batting first on what looked to be a decent track with small boundaries.
With a strong batting line up we were aiming to score over 200 in our 40 overs. Tej and Sid opened and the second ball of the innings stuck in the wicket drawing Sid into an early drive which looped up and was comfortable taken by a fielder close in on the drive. Gaurav was in next and he was given a short ball first up which he tried to pull but it climbed on him and he gloved it straight to the keeper. Priory were 0/2 in the first over and were hoping that Harish would weather the storm but he was caught in two minds punching one straight to the fielder at mid on. Priory were 3/3 in the second over and in shock. We had lost our 3 big hitters and needed our Skipper to lead from the front and stabilize the innings. Tej and Sandeep begun to recover the innings well and put on a partnership of 49 scoring at 5 an over until Tej (20) was caught by a good catch at deep mid wicket 52/4.
I (Vijay) joined Sandeep in the 11th over with a lot of work to do. First ball and the opposition were sure they had me caught behind chasing a wide short delivery but Sid was unmoved and I wasn’t sure if I’d hit it as I had a new pair of gloves which were very good at absorbing any shock from my bat. Sandeep (42) played a few big shots and was looking very good but was trapped LBW a few overs later trying to flick one through the leg side. With another 25 overs left in our innings and 5 wickets down for only 74 runs I felt if we could reach 150 we would still have something to bowl at and would still be in the game. Punit was next in and the scene was set for a few overs of blocking and the Janis to try and accumulate as many as possible and survive as long as possible but it was not to be and punit (6) edged a good ball straight to 1st slip in the 21st over. Rahul was in at number 8 making his first appearance of the season for PPCC and he was looking good up until one of their slow loopy bowlers drew him out and found Rahul’s (4) edge again caught by their first slip. Anish (6) played very well and pulled one of their quicks for 4 but soon after he was undone with a slow delivery which spun and went through the gate. Hitesh was in at number 10 which shows how strong our batting line up was but he nailed one right out of the middle of the bat straight to the deep square leg fielder, a meter either side and it would have been 4. Hitesh with a look of shock on his face departed with Priory 124/9 and looking in deep trouble and in danger of not even reaching 150. Kunal Bhatt strode in and was full of confidence, he has proven in the past that he isn’t your typical number 11 and he did so again today. Kunal (13 n.o) ran well between the wickets and hit 2 good boundaries; we were looking confident and passed the 150 mark. We were on for 200 if we just carried on batting sensibly but I let him down by playing a loose shot which I edged onto my pads ballooning up to be taken by their first slip fielder finishing on 40. We posted a respectable score of 168 but knew our bowling had to be very good to win.
Kunal Bhatt and Hitesh opened the bowling and found that anything short was going to be punished. Their batsmen were looking good and we knew the only way for us to win would be to take 10 wickets as their run rate was looking good. Hitesh got the first breakthrough in his 3rd over clean bowling one of their openers. Kunal finished his 5 over spell wicket less and we knew we were short of front line bowlers so Gaurav was brought on as first change and he did not disappoint. Gaurav picked up his first wicket with a short ball which was pulled straight to the safe hands of Tej. He then started to bowl fuller and found the perfect length forcing the batsmen to try and drive him which brought about his second wicket with a catch by sandeep. Gaurav then asked to be taken off after his 4th over as he wanted a break but he was asked to carry on as he was looking so threatening. He then bowled the over of the season! Picking up 3 wickets, one caught behind by Harish and 2 caught at 1st slip by myself. The line and length was so good the batmen didn’t know whether to play it or leave it! Gaurav finished his 8 over spell and picked up the first 5 wicket hall of the season he could have had 6 but there was a dropped catch at point. We now needed to find some part time bowling to get through the overs and take some wickets. Rahul bowel 2 overs but was unable to get a breakthrough so I was brought on for 4 over spell. I tossed it up to get the batsman to make a mistake which he did but there were 2 dropped catches and the opposition were getting closer and closer to the target. Hitesh was brought back to take another wicket caught by sandeep in the covers and Tej on at the other end kept it tight but couldn’t get the breakthrough. Their batsmen were solid and we didn’t have any firepower left to take the final 3 wickets.
In the end Thorpe Manhattan comfortably won by 3 wickets and 5 overs to spare. If we had another 30 runs on the board or another strike bowler in the ranks I think we could have won but it wasn’t to be. It was a good fight we put up after the early batting collapse. It was an enjoyable game which was played in the right spirit and Gaurav can be proud as he isn’t a regular bowler but proved he is more than useful