What a rollercoaster ride the last few weeks have been for Priory.
Success breeds success and I will try and describe two fantastic games of cricket which culminated in two excellent wins for Priory.
Unbeaten and top of the league however life was not looking so rosy for Priory 3 weeks ago.
With no wins so far this season, 5 wickets down with only 20 runs on the board and staring at a task of chasing 308 or batting for 41 overs it really was make a break time for Priory.
The rear-guard action that followed from Dave, Vijay and Vasa to defy the might Northwick Park attack for 41 overs was a really turning point in Priory’s season. It gave us a point, denied Northwick a victory and stemmed the flow of defeats. Most importantly it gave the side some much needed belief going into the next two critical league games
Priory Park V Burhani Guards (03/06/17)
Batting: Nitin 51, Sabs 25, Vasa 18 not out
Bowling: Vasa 3/26, Dave 2/17, Junior 2/44
This was a critical game for Priory for a number of reasons. The build-up and excitement towards the game against Kerala had already begun however before such a clash it was imperative Priory got a victory under our belts and found some confidence in all departments of the game.
This was also an opposition we fancied, a team we had beaten home and away in the league last season.
The bowling performance was exceptional. All of the bowlers at Dave’s disposal (he usually has the luxury of at least 7 in each game) bowled with tremendous control and aggression to bowl Burhani out for a below par but still challenging 161.
As usual the Priory habit of a lifetime of dropping catches, returned with aplomb however it did not cost the team in runs as the bowlers tore into a dispirited Burhani team. Their openers were very ‘guarded’ in name and nature and they clearly had nightmares when they saw Kuni’s name on the team sheet with the not so fond memories of his clinical 5 wickets last year. They played cautiously against H and Kuni who both bowled with great control despite having to contend with a fast outfield and some very small boundaries.
Vasa, Junior and Dave made the significant breakthroughs in the innings as they capitalised on the pressure mounted by H and Kuni. Priory’s ground fielding was good and concentration and appetite for success was maintained for the gruelling 53 overs spent in a sun drenched outfield.
Dave marshalled his troops well with his experienced father at hand to provide guru like knowledge obtained from 30 plus years of league cricket.
162 runs to win on a small ground, a decent batting track, a depleted Burhani attack (who despite not being able to eat or drink gave it their all) a long batting line up and did I mention the sun was still beaming.
Surely a simple chase however the batting gods have not looked favourably upon Prior this season and you could sense that despite the confidence gained from the backs to wall defiance against Northwick this was a game that had to be won and not drawn, a little anxiousness set in the summer air
The loss of two early wickets did not help settle the nerves as two contentious LBW decisions were granted in favour of the home team. Indeed it seemed the home umpire believed the sun was going down and he could commence breaking his fast as he triggered his finger even before the bowler had started his appeal. 5-2 as the classy Nitin joined Sabs at the crease.
Nitin and Sabs blew away any nerves into the oncoming wind with what I would describe as a match winning partnership of 79. This was not through slow accumulation and plodding but aggressive and confident strokeplay. Quite the opposite of the Northwick game where Dave, Vijay and Vasa emptied the crowd with dogged defiance, here all of Priory’s players and a few onlookers watched with intent as Sabs and Nitin captured the imagination.
Nitin in particular won the psychological battle with the opposition as he sauntered down the pitch on a regular basis to their key opening bowler. In a calculated gamble he put the bowler off his length and proceeded to hit boundaries against a bowler that Burhani put most of their faith into in defending their score.
Priory’s middle order continued to reduce the target with good contributions from Punit, Vijay and Dave however after Nitin’s wicket Burhani proceeded to take crucial wickets at regular intervals.
Priory don’t like making things easy and with winning not quite yet a habit 130-7 meant the game was well and truly in the balance. The middle order had blunted Burhani’s key bowler out of the game and as he bowled his last two overs to Vasa and Junior he had lost 3 yards of pace, it seemed the fizz had been removed from his Coca Cola.
Vasa and Junior have experienced several situations like this and they used their experience and cool heads to manoeuvre Priory to victory.
Winning tasted good, almost as good as the tea that H was already preparing. It gave the players the belief and a feel good factor about themselves as anticipation ahead of the Kerala game reached fever pitch.