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Sat 06
Saturday XI
Old Eastcotians
PPCC V Old Eastcotians Match report by Sandeep Nair

PPCC V Old Eastcotians Match report by Sandeep Nair

By Mehul JNR Patel
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Priory Robbed "Under Pressure"

Stumps were refusing to go in on a baked Cavendish wicket. I was hoping to bat first on this belter and post a big score. Even with a 2 pm start the opposition were running late and after an annoying wait the full squad arrived. We were convincingly beaten by the aggressive Eastcotians last season and knew we need to score big on this flat bouncy track. We won the toss and opted to bat.

I opened with Tej and Gaurav to meet aggression with aggression. Neither of them disappointed as they were solid against some fierce pace and bounce. One was showing class while the other muscling them over the inner circle to post around 60 runs in 10 overs. The first change bowler Rajan broke the partnership by bowling Gaurav for 32. I joined Tejas and we were happy to take singles to keep the scoreboard ticking. Few over went by and after all the hard work Tejas gave his wicket away cheaply by playing across the line. Credit goes to the Eastcotian skipper for opening up the leg side forcing Tejas to take a big swing. With pace and bounce on offer it was tailor made for Punit Jani to shape up an innings which he has been dreaming day in and day out. Unfortunately the ball took an inside edge and onto stumps and Punit was walking back without troubling the scorer. Perhaps it is time for the batsman to adopt a different strategy.

Rahul Dave with 10 years of Priory history behind him was promoted up the order to offer stability to the middle order. I and Rahul started playing cautiously and the run rate took a steep decline. We took the odd few singles on offer but couldn’t break free. It was a combination of good bowling and the pressure of losing wickets in quick succession. I didn’t help the cause by cutting one straight to the point fielder who caught it on the second attempt. This left Rahul to steady the rocking boat and was joined by Shiv playing his first game of the season. Rahul was looking more comfortable after the drinks break and was slowly accumulating runs. Howley, the spinner was introduced and Rahul welcomed the change by pulling and cutting the bowler for few boundaries. Shiv defended a few but didn’t last long and was followed by Sid caught stranded in the middle of the pitch by some confused calling from Rahul.

Sabs playing his first game of the season joined Rahul. Riding on some good batting in LMS, Sabs looked at ease from the very first ball. Howley’s doosra went through Rahul’s defence. This brought in H and soon Howley was dispatched to the leg side boundary. Sabs on the other end was scoring at a quick rate and together they were looking to get the score to over 180. The skipper brought his pace bowlers back and H was soon bowled while taking a huge on-side swing. Junior and Kuni supported Sabs who remained not out at 25. We finished on 172 and with the likes of Hitesh, Kuni and Junior we were confident of defending it.
Punit must have disappointed everyone with his batting but dished out a gourmet tea relished by everyone’s palate. A spread of burger, wraps and pasta with his trademark coriander chutney went down a treat.

It was now for the bowlers to deliver and the fielders to back them up. We needed an extra ordinary effort to defend a small total on this flat track. Kuni and H opened the bowling and were spot on from ball one. The opening pair of left and right hand batsmen were finding it difficult to score against the pace barrage of Hitesh and Kuni. Kuni varied his pace well and found one to spit up but unfortunately the ball landed short of Gaurav. A similar ball was glanced on the leg side and a rare miss-field by Gaurav resulted in the non-striker getting stranded halfway. An accurate throw from Gaurav got us the first wicket. This brought Kabi in who looked like a hard-hitter from his stance but turned out to be a master of deft touches. I decided to bowl Kuni out as this was increasing the asking rate with every passing over. With the batsmen defending all good lengths and taking wickets being key I asked Kuni to bowl bouncers in his last over. I collected his first delivery over my heads and this was for me his ball of the season. But he couldn’t control the direction of the next few and was punished by Kabi. Kuni finished wicketless but bowled his heart out and redeemed for his lacklustre Thorpe Manhattan performance.

At the other end, H was bowling with some wheels. But his luck seems to the roadblock with so many deliveries marginally failing to take an edge or disturb the stumps. Sensing that his pace and accuracy will be needed in the death overs, H was replaced with Tejas. Junior was brought in from the other end and kept bowling at the same spot umpteen times to my delight. Tejas had a rather off day as his deliveries were going wide and with his pace on offer the balls were flying off to the boundary. Tejas kept coming back with his usual wicket to wicket deliveries and found one to uproot the left hander’s wicket. Suren was the next man in and soon with Kabi formed a formidable partnership. They defended all good balls and punished the bad ones. Eastcotians were cruising and the asking rate was getting achieved every over. Junior was bowling off cutters at will and was baffling Suren. A thick edge was gleefully gloved but was denied by the umpire. Junior followed it with a Yorker crashing into Suren’s boots which any rookie umpire would have adjudged it in our favour. But you guessed it right; the Umpire gave it Not-Out.

The last 10 overs were going to test everyone character. H was brought in and the spinning speedster bowled Suren out (Probably the only way you can get out in friendlies). Priory sniffed blood. I had to find 8 overs from other players and called in Sabs and Gaurav to fill in the role. Sabs bowled with purpose and kept it tight. He produced the most important breakthrough when Kabi, playing in the right spirit of the game shuffled across and missed the leg glance. Few wides were given of Sabs bowling which were considered legit during our innings. We now had two new batsmen at both ends and just over 20 runs were need from the last 5 overs. Junior’s over was the most eventful one where Rajan tried to drive and the edge was taken by me diving full stretch. The next ball was pulled and a stellar catch was taken by Rahul at mid-wicket. The dagger was well in and the last rites remained to be said. Junior was on a hat-trick. A legitimate delivery was called wide by the scorer turned umpire. An extra delivery had to be bowled which was clubbed to the boundary reducing the required to 12 of the last 2 overs. Sabs bowled the penultimate over and even with tight fielding 6 runs were scored. Gaurav a shade less destructive compared to last week was to bowl the last over. The first ball was wide. The second missed the bastman and I failed to collect it giving a bye bringing Prem into strike. Next ball was similar but targeting the stumps and Prem missed it completely making it 3 required of the last 2 balls. The new man in Nathan flashed hard and the ball looped and probably had so many revolutions on it that H couldn’t control it and dropped a difficult chance. They ran 2 and scores were tied. Priory had to deny them a run and the field was brought in. Nava hit the ball straight to Punit who threw it to non-striker end which Gaurav failed to collect cleanly but the ball deflected onto the stumps. The whole of Priory saw the batsman being short except the scorer turned umpire. Tempers erupted and to maintain the spirit of the game, Priory accepted the umpire’s decision and opposition was handed the victory.

I wish I could rewrite how the last over went. Due to lack of neutral umpires in friendlies wouldn’t it be wise to remove leg before wicket and to call anything on the leg side as wide to reduce the friction and enjoy the Saturday game. Ding ding ding Round 2 in September. To add salt to the wound we dropped 3 catches. Let us keep improving this facet.

Man of the Match: Rahul Dave for his composure during middle overs and fielding and Sabs for his all-round performance.

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Sat 06, Jun 2015



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