Month: November 2005

Match Report 2005

Engineers regain Pacific Friendship Cup; Down Kytes in a high scoring finale

New stars appear on the horizon

By Sai Prashant

Over the past few years, the Indian Engineers and Shizuoka Kytes have competed in some thrilling encounters and the Pacific Friendship Cup final was no exception with the two teams playing out a match for the ages. In a memorable final, the Engineers chased down a stiff target of 197 off 30 overs with 8 balls and 1 wicket to spare to win the PFC for the third time in 4 years. What made the match memorable was not only the high scoring and an utterly nail-biting finish, but the attitude and enthusiasm displayed by both the teams to battle it out in almost unplayable conditions.

 Probably unplayable is not the right word, because the conditions were ideal for a game of ice hockey or some winter sport, except for the lack of ice! But the lack of ice was more than made up by an incessant, chilly drizzle. The suspense for the day began well before the match. With the weather forecast predicting heavier rains, whether the game was on or not couldn’t be known until 6:30 am, by which time the Kytes, being the hosts were supposed to inform Biju. I’m sure that between 6:00 and 6:30 am, Dec 4th 2005, Biju Paul must’ve been the busiest guy on Earth(pun intended), apart from the sellers in Tsukiji fish market! What with the whole team wanting to make the torture trip to Shizuoka! But as it turned out, the trip ended up being most enjoyable and satisfying. So, the Engineers arrived at the ground well before the scheduled start of play. Thanks to Bobby Philips, our F-1 driver, driving the team in his Toyota like Schumacher! Probably he just drove with the freedom he wouldn’t have had if his Dad had made the trip, or maybe he just couldn’t wait to get his hands on the Pacific Cup (cup? what cup?? no cup!). Bikash steered in the rest of the team and we were all set to play. Biju set the team in the right mood by giving away some goodies, courtesy of our sponsors, HumTum TV. Also, the Kytes had a nice fire started and after a brief warm-up (next to the fire!) it was time to get on with the main course. Vimal Vikrant, captain of the day and third in line of the Engineers’ captaincy hierarchy, promptly lost the toss and elected to field! We took to the field with most of us in attires fit to scale the nearby Mt.Fuji and Bikash looking atleast twice his size. Vimal decided to open the bowling himself along with Rahul. Vimal went for runs Rahul bowled with control and discipline. Newcomer Sangan Kalgi replaced the captain and brought immediate rewards when he had Neil Harrison caught behind. Rahul and Sangan then continued the stingy line and length. Rahul in particular was very impressive with his control and got due rewards. He nailed Shoaib and Nick, number 3 and 4 in the Kytes order, with a couple of superb deliveries, both going through the defenses and sending the stumps for a walk. At that time, with the Kytes 3 down for 29, it was beginning to look like a stroll in the park on a sunny Sunday afternoon for the Engineers. To be noted here is that the ground condition was beginning to deteriorate rapidly. The constant drizzle making the run-up and the follow-through on to the pitch quite dangerous. In walked Robb, the Kytes’ captain, and began to steady the innings. With the opening bowlers being saved for the death overs, a brief partnership followed. Sangan proved to be a difficult customer to negotiate with his left-arm seamers slanting away at good pace. Bobby replaced Rahul and started off quite well. But the Kytes were batting more freely and were chancing their arms and their score card began to look more respectable. Vimal switched over to bowling his off-breaks, and was immediately rewarded with the wicket of Lalith, the score reading 4 for 60. It still looked good for the Engineers, except that the Kytes had cleverly saved some of their best batsmen for the last! Vimal let everyone have a go at the ball and the Kytes began to capitalise on it. In all, 9 bowlers were tried out, and except for a couple of them, all went for runs. Since there were quite a few new-comers, at least it made everybody feel like they were actively involved in the game instead of being just left to field at third-man or deep fine leg which can sometimes be quite dispiriting. Well done Vimal. So, with this rotation policy, the Kytes made merry. Arbab had just come in, and along with Robb, went about clobbering the bowling. Things weren’t looking too good for the Engineers and Biju was requesting for a fire-break after almost every other over! Can’t blame him though. In between all this, an important incident occurred. The ground had become very slippery and the new comer Mithun came on to bowl his off-spinners. Here was a bowler who has a classical off-spinner’s action and flight, but couldn’t quite get it right as he was slipping in his run-up. In fact, he injured his arm quite seriously during one of his falls. When Prashanth replaced him, the very first ball he bowls and is flat on the ground! That was a bad fall, and the captains began discussing about the conditions. Prashanth was suggested to bowl without stepping onto the mat. C’mon guys, it’s a Cup Final and not some friendly match! But dutifully, he bowled the next ball from well behind the umpire. Getting some confidence from this, the third ball he just steps onto the mat and promptly slips and goes sprawling. Now this was serious and it was obvious that play couldn’t continue under the circumstances. Both the teams got together and discussed various options, such as playing without the mat, playing with a tennis ball, etc! Just when the captains were deciding to call off play and reschedule the match, Jude Joseph came up with a brilliant brainwave. He suggested that half the mat be removed and bowling only from the end without the mat. The grass wasn’t so slippery though. It was only the mat which was the culprit. So it was decided to implement this idea, and things began to work out fine after that. During this stoppage however, there was another incredible moment! Sangan, who had bowled a good spell earlier on, decided to see for himself what the fuss was all about. So, he measured his runup, without ball in hand, mind you, runs into bowl and what followed was one of the most spectacular falls seen on a cricket field(Bobby’s fall still remains right up there on top, though!). Some of us, who were discussing various options, caught a glimpse of the fall(jut like Bobby’s fall was caught by only two guys), almost in slow motion, and were wondering just what he was up to! As amusing as it may have looked, it was a wicked fall and he hurt his back badly which made fielding and batting quite painful for him. Nevertheless, he took a fine catch later and played an important innings as you will learn later on. Anyway, after Jude had saved the day for both teams, play resumed after the long stoppage. When Vimal came on for his second spell, Robb, who was batting beautifully on 63 lofted one straight to deep midwicket where Bobby took a fantastic catch. Though it was a straight forward catch, considering the cold and the freezing hands, it was a great effort, and an important one. In walked Sharpe, and with Arbab pulling and hitting across almost everything, the Kytes’ score was looking ominous. Sharpe was in brilliant form and was hitting the ball with brutal power from word go. Biju, a reluctant bowler after a long lay off due to his shoulder injury, was given the ball, and he responded in fine style with his shortened runup and aSharmaji-like left arm action(or rather no action). He had the hard-hitting Arbab caught in the deep cover point, for a well made 33, again stunning running catch by Bobby. In the 3rd ball of his next over Biju clean bowled Wooler, taking advantage of the batsmen’s poor footwork and was on a hat trick as he clean bowled the next batsman next ball. Though he missed out on the hattrick, he ended up with 3 for 24, a great spell indeed for a comeback bowler. His kangaroo-style jumping celebration after each wicket showed sheer joy and was quite a sight to watch. With the last man in and overs running out, Sharpe went into over-drive and Biju suffered the most. Almost every ball was dismissed from his presence with utter disdain. One such hit almost took Biju’s arm along with it to the straight boundary! To Biju’s credit though, he didn’t show the obvious pain:-) Rahul, the best bowler on view, came on and was dispatched through mid-wicket for a couple of fours. Vimal moved extra-cover to plug the gap at deep mid-wicket, and Sharpe trying to capitalise on this, made room and tried to hit through covers only to find the stumps rearranged. He made 37. It was a good move by Vimal and an important one. The Kytes’ innings folded up for 196 with 9 balls still to go, and as it turned out, the runs that could’ve been scored in those 9 balls could have made the difference between winning and losing. For the Engineers, Rahul, Vimal and Biju picked up 3 wickets each and Sangan chipped in with one. Rahul was by far the best bowler, bowling wicket to wicket and giving no room to the batsmen. Sangan too impressed. Biju, though suffered at the hands of Sharpe, was quite effective. The remaining bowlers sprayed the ball around and as many as 40 to 50 extras were given away! Staggering by any standards. Anyways, the fielders were really glad to get to the fire. There was super hot cup noodles awaiting the cold and hungry players, courtesy the Kytes, who were really quite magnanimous as hosts. Set to score 197 off 30 overs, the Engineers had fire in their belly, literally, after consuming the hot noodles and the best part of the match was set to happen! A required rate of close to 7 per over is quite a challenge by any means, and especially against the Kytes’ new ball attack. You cannot afford to just see off the opening bowlers without scoring too many, because by then the asking rate would have rocketed up. So, with no particular game plan, except to play their natural game, the Engineers set off on their chase, with Vimal and Prashanth. The Sun too had just come out a little bit, perhaps to get a glimpse of the intense action that was to follow! The Kytes’ opening bowlers, Sharpe and the left-handed Tomlison started off with some ferocious pace and control. There was a flicked four through midwicket off Sharpe’s first over by Prashanth and Vimal too saw off a probing opening over by Tom. So, in the first two overs there was little indication of the impending drama. Into his second over, Sharpe was beginning to be almost unplayable with his late inswinging toe-crushers. His first such ball accounted for Vimal. A full length delivery swinging in late had Vimal falling over as the ball crashed into the stumps. It was a beautiful ball and there’s almost nothing a bastman could do, except be lucky to dig it out, but then at that pace it’s a tough ask. Jude Joseph came in at No.3 and played the first few balls confidently enough. But then in Sharpe’s next over, he received another unplayable one. Full, fast and furious that caught the batsman plumb in front. Despite all this havoc, Prashanth was in quite splendid form. He cut, drove and flicked with abandon. Standing well outside the crease, he played late to counter the late swing but also quickly latched onto anything short. There was a classic cut past point, a drive through covers and a couple of flicks past midwicket. There were also a couple of drives over the bowler’s head hit with savage power. Bobby who had come in at the fall of Jude was intent on seeing the opening pair off and was doing that quite well. He showed good judgement of where his off stump was and was content in leaving balls that didn’t require to be played at. Apparently, he didn’t know where his middle stump was and by the time he realised where it was, it had gone for a ride by Sharpe’s inswinger. At 3 down for 36 only in the sixth over, the Engineers were staring down the barrel and the Kytes were flying high. Something special was required to get them to 197. A partnership was necessary and that came in the form of Rahul and Prashanth. Rahul was keen that his earlier bowling exploits not going to waste and batted sensibly letting Prashanth do the scoring. The Kytes were all fired up and wanted to finish off the Engineers when they were down. So their opening and most potent bowlers bowled their quota of 6 overs each at a stretch hoping to get a few more wickets. That was a huge gamble taken by the Kytes and it didn’t pay off as Prashanth and Rahul had other ideas. Constantly talking to and motivating each other, they not only made sure that no more wickets fell to the opening duo but also scored at the required rate with some excellent running between wickets. It also helped that the new ball bowlers had finished their spells and the first change bowlers were on. So the Engineers at the half way stage were around 100 for 3 and went into the fire-break reasonably confident. Immediately after the break though, Rahul fell – stumped by Robb, standing up for Tom, for a well made 13 after putting up a partnership of 64 in just 8 overs which brought the Engineers back into the match. Bikash came, saw and left without conquering:-) again the result of yet another stumping. Sangan, who bats left-handed, came in with Jude as his runner, and started middling the ball confidently. The slow bowlers were in operation now and the batsmen were content in just working the ball around. After a brief partnership, the Engineers suffered another setback when Prashanth, who was looking set for a big one, fell trying to work the ball to square and missed a straight one from Nick to be plumb in front. It was a good innings with shots all round the wicket and spared no bowler in his breezy 50 ball 66(8×4). But he left with the job half-done. The score read 144 for 6 in the 20th over. 53 were required off the last 10 overs and the match was delicately poised. But one final act from the Engineers was to follow in a match which saw the advantage shift from one team to the other every 5 overs. Yogesh joined Sangan and they proceeded to build the most important partnership of the match. Without being overly cautious, they took their team closer to the target with good running and some timely boundaries which ensured that the asking rate was always comfortable. Jude, running for Sangan, was just terrific. Just when it looked like they would take the team home safely, the match took another turn with the fall of Yogesh for a responsible 22(4×4) off only 13 balls, another brilliant glove work by Robb behind the stumps. They had put on 38 for the 7th wicket off just 5 overs. Sangan followed soon for 22(4×4), falling victim to Arbab. Robb’s superb glove-work needs a mention here. Yogesh fell to a brilliant stumping off a spinner. With the slow bowlers operating, Rob was a constant threat behind the wickets. With the pitch slippery and the batsmen regularly missing their footing, the danger of being caught out of the crease was constant. The batsmen realizing this had to play the spinners from well within the crease as any kind of footwork was hazardous. But still Robb would end up with 4 such blinding fast stumping which was mainly responsible for the Kytes remaining in the match after their inital strikes. So, with the fall of Sangan, the 7th wicket, Biju joined Sangan and they took the score tantalisingly close before both fell in quick succession, with Sangan at 186 and Biju at 191 being the 9th wicket. Sangan’s 22 and though Biju scored only in the single digits, their runs were worth the weight in gold. By now, every run was being wildly cheered and every batsman was welcomed back to the fire-place to a hero’s welcome. Voices had gone hoarse with screaming and cheering and I’m sure that more than one of the Engineers’ hearts skipped beats on more than one occasion! This was definitely not a match for the weak-hearted. 6 to get with 1 wicket and 12 balls left. Mithun, who was hardly able to lift the bat due to injury, had joined Biju and had struck a couple of nicely timed on drives for some valuable 2’s. Biju then gave a brief hope of seeing the Engineers through when he hit a four through the small gap of a decade but fell victim to yet another brilliant stumping off a wide ball. At 191, the last batsman Yousuf walked in with his slippers on! You see, he wasn’t expecting to play and had only made the trip to cheer us. So, considering the slippery conditions, all started to check for the right size shoes for Yousuf. Finally Yousuf settled for Bobby’s Nikes, a very fine choice indeed! The Jason Gillespie look alike Mark had been operating in the death overs. Similar hair style, similar run-up and action but not the same pace, good control nevertheless. The situation at this point was: Runs required: 6 Tension: mounting Mithun: takes a couple and another single Runs required: 3 Possible result: Any of the three Tension: mounting On strike: Yousuf Wickets left: 1 What happened: Calmly pats out the first ball What happened next: Gets beaten second ball Runs required: 3 Tension: mounting What happened: Third ball, slightly short outside off and he calmly lofts it to the cover fence for four! The Engineers had done it. A remarkable run chase. As everybody runs on to the field. Yousuf’s lofted in the air (and caught!). Celebrations, hugs and victory shouts all around. The two teams congratulated each other. The Kytes have taken the defeat very well. No complaints or bitterness or long faces. Just a calm acceptance of the ways of sport and God! The camaraderie between the teams was great. Though the match was fiercely competitive with both teams fighting every inch and even occasionally sledging, everything was done in good spirit. Even umpiring decisions were accepted graciously, but this was also due to the fact the umpiring from both teams was very fair and top-class. It was pretty dark by now. The great, life-saving fire was put off and the teams decided to carry on the good spirit to the nearby Soba restaurant, which is the Kytes’ den and favourite watering hole. Over a few beers and colas, everyone was supposed to nominate their best performer and highlight of the match. It wasn’t serious stuff though, with people nominating Sangan’s fall, Gillespie looks, Robert’s colourful scorebook, Yousuf’s commitment for playing in slippers, Sharpe’s appealing, Jude’s half-pitch idea, and so on. It was almost a perfect end to a wonderful cricketing day. And on the long haul back to Tokyo, everyone felt safer with Biju doing the chauffeur’s duty this time:-) Bobby, just kidding. To wrap up this already long report, it was a complete team effort. Good all round performance: Rahul and Sangan Standout bowling : Rahul, Sangan and Biju Fielding : Bikash(good keeping to some bad bowling!),Bobby(2 great catches), Mithun and Jude Batting : Prashanth, Yogesh, Sangan and Yousuf Spirit and enthusiasm : Kytes and Engineers Scope for improvement : Around 40 extras!!! Tons of thanks to : Kytes Above all, great captaincy by Vimal. Good rotation of bowlers, field placements and got the batting order dead right. Brief scores: S Kytes 196(28.3 ov). R McKenna 53 B Paul 3/24, R Deo 3/29, V Vikrant 3/46 IECC 198/9(28.3 ov). S Prashanth 66, Extras 47, M Sharpe 3/43. Scorecard

Make-shift Engineers prove too much for the Kytes

New stars appear on the horizon

By Sanjeeb Sahoo

It is always difficult to gather a squad of 11 around this time of the year and the IECC president knew it and rightly started availability checking 2 weeks in advance. Despite all the effort, only 3 of the regular Engineers were available on the final day. However, thanks to some irregular members and some volunteers from other teams and Biju’s organizing expertise, the president finally managed to gather a full squad. In the absence of captain, vice-captain and asst. v-c, Bikash Mohanty was appointed as the captain for this match. None would have thought at this point that this team could beat the mighty Shizouka team, who are just 1 game away from becoming the champions of the Davison 2. Only this writer and the captain were optimistic considering the average weight and age of the team, which was at lest 10kgs and 2 years lesser than usual. The team arrived in time at the ground and warmed themselves up by rolling the pitch and putting down the mat. Luckily Bikash won the toss and elected to bat first. Himanshu and Prashanth started the batting cautiously. Sharpe and File started the bowling attack for the Kytes. They bowled with accuracy and pace and made scoring a difficult task. In the 7th over Prasanth failed to connect to a good length delivery from File and the wood work got re-arranged. Only recognized batsman Sanjeeb walked in and immediately it was apparent that he is in good nick. But few balls later he attempted a half hearted drive off a File delivery which took the inside edge and the leg stump was uprooted. Santosh walked in with instruction to hang in there as long as possible. He did just that, occasionally hitting some spectacular boundaries, but was judged LBW of Lalit while on 16. Talk from unconfirmed sources say that Santosh dropped Jude Joseph(the umpire at that time), in front of a truck, on the expressway while heading back to Tokyo. New addition Ryan walked in and the run rate graph immediately started moving upward. Anything which can be hit, disappeared out of the ground. Himanshu, who has been batting patiently at the other end till now, also started opening the face of the bat and the runs started flowing in. Sensing danger, Neil came in to bowl and immediately had Himanshu LBW. Himanshu was on 40 at that time. Second new addition David Davies walked in; it was a good move by the captain as David is known for his patience which always frustrates the opposition. David did not disappoint the captain and batted sensibly, rotating the strike. Ryan at the other end was not deterred at all by anything, and kept on scoring boundaries at will. It took a gem of ball from Subodh to finally get him out. Ryan had scored 42 of just 32 balls at that time. In walked Bikash to face Nick. Nick bowled one of his you-miss-I-hit balls and Bikash was caught in two mind whether to hit or not. Any other day Bikash would have hit it for a boundary but it was Nick’s day on that day as would be apparent later. Bikash swung his bat hard but the ball seemed to have more liking for his stump. Engineers in deep trouble and in danger of getting all out for a small score. Jude Joseph, the new man in , played every ball with a straight bat, like an opener that surprised everybody. Both David and Jude played sensibly and kept the score moving steadily. In the 45th over David got out attempting to accelerate the run rate, bowled by Subodh. Robert and Raju got out LBW in consecutive balls from Sharpe. Jude got bowled by Sobudh the very next over. The Engineers all out for 186 from 37.4 overs. After a short lunch break Kytes started the chase with Sharpe and Lalith opening the innings. Raju started the bowling attack for the Engineers. Guess who started the attack from the other end. The one and only Santosh! Raju bowled with pace and bounce, but nothing mattered for Sharpe. The faster the ball came the faster it disappeared into the fence. Santosh on the other end was bowling spin with accuracy and almost without any wides. Raju got his line and length back from his 3rd over onwards and started bowled some real good deliveries, but the wickets did not come the Engineers’ way. By 10th over the Kytes were rocking at 71, around 7 per over. Sanjeeb was brought in to provide a break. He obliged by having Sharpe in his second over. The fall of Sharpe started pushing the run rate downwards. In his 4th over Sanjeeb claimed his 2nd victim – Lalith. David claimed the next 2 wickets and the Kytes were feeling the pressure now. In-form batsman Subodh walked in and started toying with the bowling. Sanjeeb tried to get him out by putting more fielders on the offside but Subodh could not be drawn into the plot. He finished his quota without any more success. Ryan was given the ball and after few overs produced a wicket. Bikash at the other end had Neil out for 15. That brought Nick in. He immediately started with a six over mid- wicket. He seemed to be possessed and only started talking in 4s and 6s. After lot of discussion, Raju was brought back to the attack and he responded with a unplayable delivery which just kissed Subodh’s bat, Prasanth did well to collect it behind the stumps. Any other umpire would have missed it(I am sure it would if it was Lalith) but it did not miss Sharpe’s sharp eyes. Subodh had to walk. Shoaib came in and 4 balls later found his off stump moved back at least by 5 meters by a genuine fast ball from Raju. The Engineers at this stage thought that they have won as the last batsman was Martineau and Raju had 3 more balls left of that over. But to everybody’s surprise Martineu successfully survived 3 shinkansen deliveries from Raju. Full credit to him! The Kytes required only 14 runs at that stage for a victory. The danger man Nick was on strike. After considerable discussion Santosh was given the ball. First ball – Nick hit it over long on for a SIX. Everybody in the ground was shocked. 2nd ball , this was a replica of the the earlier ball, Nick swung hard but it was probably for the light or the spin which Santosh generated; the blade completely missed the ball – a sweet clicking sound – all Engineers on the field went rushing to Santosh and congratulated him. Great scene, Santosh’s dream finally being realized! And the Engineers won the match by 8 runs. In summary, this was probably the tensest game the Engineers played this season. Everybody really tried hard to contribute to the victory. Some outstanding jobs done are outlined below…. Steady and solid batting by Himanshu, Santosh and David.. Explosive batting by Ryan.. Fiery bowling spells from Raju.. Lightning fielding from everybody specially Duck, Robert and Josheph.. Controlled bowling from David, Bikash and Santosh.. Thoughtful, aggressive bowling by yours truly.. Great work behind the stumps by Prasanth and Biksah.. Timely changes and innovative captaincy from Bikash.. Brief scores: IECC 186(37.4 ov). R Lahodiuq 42, H Panhalkar 40, S Gunawardena 3/23 S Kytes 178(31.2 ov). M Sharpe 35. Scorecard

Engineers squander a perfect opportunity

…while Tokyo Wombats impressed

By Bobby Philips

As conveyed across very bluntly, please do not expect me to grind words in this report. We were pathetic and that needs to be conveyed across with no words minced. So get ready for the reality check on each of those who played the semi-finals. At last the day was here that we all looked forward to. The day started with the bad news that Sriram couldn’t join in due to an injury sustained in the finals of EAP tournament. What a way for the day to begin but we managed to get Bikash onboard without much fuss. As things would turn out in the hours to come, we reached Sizuoka ground on time. Play started around 10:30 and the captains moved in for the toss. We decided that if we win the toss we shall opt to field. So did the wombats. It was ultimately for the coin to decide the fate. As has become a ritual by now for the Engineers, our captain wrong and we saw both Vs padding up. Looking for a good partnership from the veteran Engineers would be anybody’s desire but the gods had other plans! Viswa was back nicking Ian Gason, the lone ranger of the Wombats, outside the off to Jarrad behind the wicket. He was back with the same speed as he went in to bat. The only difference being that while walking in he had the killer instinct in his eyes and while walking back it was the look of a !@#$. Sanjeeb Sahoo strode in with the backing of all the supporters in the pavilion chanting…..Sanjeeb! Sanjeeb! But before they could say…. “we want Sixes! We want a four” they saw the back of Mr. Reliable and cried out loud…’O shit!!!’. He was back in exactly the same fashion as Viswa. The pavilion was on fire. The tails were stashed between the legs and the Engineers were brain-storming as how to control the hara-kiri happening in the middle. Well, the sun was shining strongly up there and probably Sanjeeb had plans to rest under the shelters of the tree and relax after the long ride to Shizuoka. Looking calmly from the other end was the man in form, Vimal, carefully plotting the destruction of the opponents! In walked Nissar with the willow gleaming in his hand. Things started swinging the Indian way and people didn’t have anything else to talk and look at the proceeding when suddenly out of the blue Vimal gives a return catch to Dawson. I am sure he might have repeated this sentence if not 1000s but at least 100s of time before he reached the stands to throw away his bat “How can I do that man! I don’t believe it”. Don’t worry mate…we too don’t believe it….as to how can you throw away the wicket in such a clumsy manner man! Your team needed you to stay…. and now there you are…. Anyway…as the Japanese would say….’Irashaimase…hai dozo!’, welcome to the pavilion! With Nissar playing cool on one side our captain thought it would have been a great opportunity for Himanshu to prove a point or two. Yours truly had requested his captain to refrain from sending Himanshu over at this stage as we had a more stable veteran sitting and scribbling on the scorebook in the form of daddy Sylvi! But unfortunately captain-san had other plans and in went Himanshu as Nissar watched from the non-striker’s end. I am not sure how many balls did Himanshu played but I do remember for sure that he made a successful effort to remain on zero. Welcome back friend. Better luck next time. With 4 down for 44 runs all hell broke loose. In walked Bob Christo with hanuman ka gadha. Nissar and he planned as to “Hey you know what….let’s play it safe till drinks and then we can launch into it” ….O yeah…o…yeah… I got it….I can handle it……don’t worry….. I will do. Kya kaaak (What shit!) I will do!!! Mr. Christo was walking back even before the over was bowled…. How can he be a part of this ridiculously insane team!!! Geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Anyway moving on….in walked Sylvi…. and he was batting with charm from the moment he reached the crease till Kelly at forward short leg took a stunning catch. It was one of the most disappointing moments as he got out due to a splendid fielding performance. Rest all of us gifted away our wickets and I just have a feeling that our team needs someone like Chappell to remove the old dried up weeds out of the team and give it a fresh new blood look. With Sylvi departing the heart sank for Nissar who was still pulling along from the other end. In came Bikash and he too played couple of excellent shots. I sometimes wonder why he is not batting way up there as he is a consistent performer for the Engineers. We need to have more people who are consistent rather than one time successes like yours truly. I have special respect for Bikash and Ashok this season for the manner in which they brought about revolution to their batting this season. Good job guys. Keep it up. Bikash you may also don the keeping gloves here on for IECC. In walks Santosh Gadge who till now was in the pavilion shouting at top of his voice about what his mates are delivering up the ladder and here he was at the cross roads of writing history of going out so early and hitting a century for the team. But for the sake of blistering bananas can you score just one run please? Hero too comes back with a ZERO. Hmmmmm I wonder sometimes if there is a bribery scandal going on. Why else would our team perform in this manner? Makes me wonder if I am in Indian politics for a change! In walks Ajey who always has been professing that he needs to be promoted up the ladder. He always says that TODAY I will play my natural game and yours truly always trusted that his natural game is to hit the leather out of the balls…but our mate walks in and what does he do….he doesn’t connect with the !@#$% ball. He had no clue as to what he was playing. Boy…! I think you too really need a break had it not been for your decent balling. Anyway…to cut the story short… Mr. AK47 is back in the pavilion with his DUCK. The 8th wonder walks in to the middle in the form of Mr. Mahesh. I had no clue until then that this genius was hidden in our team. WOW! mama mia…. you should have seen him batting. He walked in when the score was around 125 odd with 6 overs to spare or something like that! But who cares now with this report nearly 3 weeks old….Grrrrrr! Nissar and Mahesh took it up from there on and by the time they both walked back after 40 over. we had 174 on the board. Good job done by these two guys. Come on gals give the guys a big hand! Nissar might be wondering why I haven’t spoken about him at all. I have reserved the best for you till now. Nissar is a great person, a passionate cricketer and we are proud to have him in our team. He gave us everything in style and what better stage than the Semifinals itself. Great stuff indeed. He played a very controlled knock and as the pins were falling on one side of the wicket, he was steadily chipping away the ones and twos and occasional boundaries and it wasn’t until he reached his 70s that his dear colleagues took a note of it. There on it was Nissar’s willow doing the talking. With the last pair batting and he still in 70’s, Nissar shifted gear in style. There was nothing that wasn’t dispatched into the shrubs. The last pair brought in around 50 plus runs off which Mahesh scored 14* and Nissar scored the rest to end up at 106*. It was an absolute delight, not only for the Engineers but even for the Wombats. While he was batting on 96 and the last over being bowled, there was apprehension in the stand if he could complete the century. Even before we could finish the thought, the ball was sailing way up trying to get lost in the clouds landing way inside the mid wicket dry river. He did it in style and class. The score read 102*…. And the huge crowd erupted. 80 thousand people waving the Indian flag all over and the candles being burnt all over. For a moment I thought if I was indeed in the Shizuoka ground or am I in Calcutta. It reminded me of my days when we played Laxman and Dravid went on to rewrite history. A respectable score of 174(9)/40 Overs and it was time for us to prove a point or two. Well the proving rested on point 1 and we lost. IECC SUCKS!!! We need to do way better buddies. This will not only bring us into D-II of KCL but we will also succeed in disintegrating the basic fabric of our team itself. Unless this is addressed in the next AGM and actions taken, IECC is going down the slope at this moment. With 174 behind us IECC decided to put in their best foot forward (which was already lost in the course of morning session… I have no idea which leg we spoke about – pun intended!) in the bowling and fielding department. Thanks to the team YES we did give a tough fight to the Wombats even though the score doesn’t say it so. No run was gifted away and they were made to toil hard from ball one. Ajey bowled out his spell well. Sanjeeb also bowled decently. All along the build up to the semi-finals, Vimal said that he would bowl spin on the day and he did go ahead with it. But my sincere observation is that he makes a bigger impact when he is in his natural flow of variety bowling. Lately he has not been doing well in that field but then he sure must pursue it rather than spin. Nissar was tried from the marathon batting effort but he did bowl decently too. The pick of the bowler was Viswa with his curving and precision deliveries. I have a sincere feeling that we indeed have a wonderful out swinger in our midst with decent pace and bounce associated. Even though we lost this match we did win the battle with the good spirit on and off the field. We sure will bounce back next year and it is also time to search for new blood for IECC. In the post match discussion the topic was not how we lost but who would take the kit! That is the situation of our team. Brief scores: IECC 174/9. N Ahmed 106*. P Shackleford 3/27 Wombats 175/3. C Jones 86*. Scorecard | Wombats’ report

Engineers keep their semi-final hopes alive

…and continue their excellent run with the bat

By Vimal Vikrant

The final league match of KCL for the Engineers was against Lalazar and the Engineers had to win this to have a chance of qualifying for the semis. The travel on the way to the ground was a mostly an intense discussion about the possibilities, permutations and combinations of the semis lineup. That said that the confidence was sky-high after the victory against the Friends, but this is cricket and there is no saying what can happen. There were a couple of freak showers on the way but that did get us concerned about the state of the ground, and heaven forbid, a washout. But we reached the ground to find the conditions quite nice. The toss was won by Lalazar who elected to bat first. No batting records this time for us, we thought! The bowling was started by Ajey Kulkarni and Sanjeeb Sahoo and they usually stick to a line. There were a few loose balls that were taken full toll of by the openers but there was a general feeling of tentativeness in thier proceedings. The first breakthrough though, was via a fantastic catch behind the stumps by Sriram. The batsman went for a booming drive off Ajey, but inside edged the ball and Sri made a one-handed snatch for the dying ball to grab it just inches off the  ground. The first wicket down for 30 odd and the Engineers started feeling a little relaxed. I was introduced into the attack and beat the bat a few times, but nothing special seemed to be happening. It was drizzling on and off and that was not really helping anyone. Anyway, one of my slower ones worked, the batsman going for an over-the-top heave only to find the ball not there. The middle stump out of the ground and the second wicket down for 71. The rain came down harder now and there was short stoppage. On resumption of play, Naresh was introduced and this did the trick for us. Making full use of the slightly greasy pitch, with flight and turn as his weapons, Naresh cleaned up the Lalazar middle order. The batsmen were very uncomfortable against the flighted delivery and were beaten time and again. 3 LBWs resulted. Santosh, Nissar and Sanjeeb were rotated as bowlers at the other end and with constant breakthroughs, the Engineers seemed to be on the way to restricting the opposition to a low total. But as is customary, the tail wagged and we found it difficult to break the last couple of partnerships. Eventually Lalazar were bowled out in the 35th over with 166 on the board. Not a difficult total, but the runs were on the board and they had to be got. A new combination of Naresh and myself opened the innings. The opening bowler of Lalazar, Amjad Mirza, looked to be from the Waqar Younis mould in his run up and delivery. He got quite a decent bounce off the pitch. Third ball that I faced, I hook it, ball travels to the fine leg area, we take 2, but then Naresh sees the throw coming in loopily and calls for the third. I probably reacted a fraction late. Direct hit at the non-striker’s end and it’s bye-bye. MoM in the previous innings, run out for 2 in the next. Well, welcome to cricket, the great leveller. Naresh though, to his credit, continued almost like nothing happened and a couple of beautiful square drives resulted. Sanjeeb on the other end kept things cool and the strike rotating. A little while Naresh fell LBW to Amjad for a personal score of 17 and the team score of 37. In walked Sri with a decent platform and after settling down he opened up to show the bowling deficiencies of the opposition. The opposition left arm spinner was treated particularly badly though he did bowl a few good balls to beat the bat. The game was running away from the opposition and the Amjad was reintroduced, but Sriram was already nearing his half century and very well set. One boundary and one six and he was there. After this the strike was rotated to try to get Sanjeeb also to his well deserved 50, but somehow, when Sri hits it, the ball likes to head to the boundary. Sanjeeb was stranded on 46 when the winning boundary was scored, in the 25th over. A convincing win and now we await the decisions in the other matches to see if we qualify for the semis. This year is a pretty tough competition. We are waiting with our fingers crossed. Brief scores: Lalazar 166 (35.1 ov). A Naresh 4/18 IECC 168/2 (24.1 ov). S Sahoo 46*, S Sampath 78*. Scorecard

Rampaging Engineers blow the Friends away

New KCL record established – 379/6

By Silvester Pereira and Ashok Sharma

A beautiful and clear sunny day in Ageo meant zero percent chance of any possibility of a washout/half doubtful game. As usual, the Engineers arrived at the ground on time by 10:30 am. On the other hand some members of the opposition team (Friends XI) had a hard time finding their way to the ground! By 11:30 only seven members of the opposition were at the ground and another three had lost their way and were almost over an hour away. After a mutual agreement between the two team captains, the game finally began at 11:50 am. Sriram won the toss and elected to bat first. It was a good decision as it was expected to be a very hot day as the day progresses. To the misery of the opposition, they had to take the field with only seven members. Their key bowlers and wicket-keeper was in one of the cars, who had lost their way and trying hard to get to the ground! The opposing captain Amir had wisely spread the field right from the first over with almost everybody on the boundary line except for the bowler and wicket keeper. The Engineers openers Vimal and Vishwa faced  the first over on a cautious note. However from the second over, run started trickling in easily at an average of 8~10 runs/over. To the misery of Friends, the second over had to be bowled by their spinner Fayaz! Vimal and Vishwa played the opening partnership very sensibly with only seven opposition members on the field, hitting shots all over the place and score jumped quickly to 120 without loss of any wicket in just 11 overs. It was an excellent start for the Engineers with absolutely no pressure from the opposition. The opposition finally got some respite when Vishwa going for a shot straight down, missed the line and was clean bowled by Assad Ali for 54. The score at this stage was 121/1. In walked Sriram knowing very well the miseries of the opposition and wanting to make the best use by putting up a grand total. Sriram began on a cautious note but Vimal on the other hand kept the scoreboard moving. At one stage Sriram was dropped at long on which proved to be costly. Nothing was going right for the friends. The lost car didn’t arrive to the ground and Friends had to play with 7 members for almost over an hour. When the lost car arrived, we realized that Friends had only 10 members on this day (11th member dropped out at the last minute). By this time the score was almost close to 200 when Sriram got bowled by Siddiqui for 53. The remaining batsman capitalized on an excellent start and put on a grand score of 379/7 in 40 overs, the highest ever in KCL history, with some useful contribution by Sanjeeb (51), Bobby (38) and almost everyone who batted. Not to forget the man behind this great start (Vimal) who put on an excellent 96 runs and very unlucky to miss to hundred from an lbw decision off the bowling of Naeem. The Engineers were benevolent enough to agree to a start time of 11:50am, despite the previously agreed time of 10:30AM, and did not insist on KCL rules be applied which permits one over be deducted from the Friends innings for every 4 minutes delayed. The Engineers also permitted the late comers to bowl as soon as they arrived at the ground, again not insisting on the rules which forbid the fielders from bowling until they spent as much time on the ground as they were away. By the time Friends came in to bat, they were almost exhausted by standing out in the sun for the full 40 overs of leather hunt. Naeem and Umar opened the inning for the Friends with the asking rate of over 9 runs/over while Ajey Kulkarni and Nisar opened the bowling for the Engineers. Friends had a good start of 38 runs in the first 4 overs until Naeem, going for a big hit, was beautifully caught by Jagan at mid-on for 10 with the score reading 38/1 in 4 overs. In walked Amir who looked dangerous hitting some couple of clean and solid sixes. However he didn’t last long. Going for a big hit and almost looking like another six, Bobby at deep mid-wicket leaped out like a superman and took the catch in the second attempt. It was an excellent catch and important wicket which sealed the match for the Engineers. The pressure was constantly on the opposition team. The remaining friends batsmen didn’t stay for long except for the opener Umar(58) and Fayaz (46) who looked threatening but the asking rate and the big imposing total ahead of them got the better of them. The friends finally folded up at 229, still 150 short of the target. The departing Ashok Sharma was the highest wicket taker with 4/46 (his last game prior to leaving Japan). Except for one incident during the Friends innings, the Engineers deservingly won the game and improved their chances of qualifying for the semi-finals in this tournament. Ashok Sharma reports: The incident mentioned above is as follows. 2nd over of the inning, Nissar Ahmad bowling to Umar Farooq. Umar hit the ball in the air which was magnificently caught by Viswa. During the time when ball was in the air, square leg umpire was trying to signal the main umpire about the ball being above shoulder. While Engineers were celebrating the wicket, batsman was still on the crease hoping for a life. During the conversation, square leg umpire said that he wanted to call it a no ball because the ball was above shoulder. He also confirmed that ball was below the head height which makes it a bouncer. We all said that one bouncer is allowed per over so this was not a no ball for that reason. That time Amir came in and joined Umar and said that a bouncer is not allowed at all and only short pitched ball is allowed. When asked about the definition of short pitched he said it is above chest but below shoulder (how much is in that area). Finally it boiled down to the question whether a bouncer is allowed in an over or not. While Amir and Umar saying no no no, we kept saying yes yes yes and the umpires were indecisive. It was followed by some heated arguments and since we were in a comfortable position with the huge score behind us, Sriram decided to go ahead with the game. This was the right call at that time as any further argument might have put the match in jeopardy. We should raise this and confirm the rule so that it does not happen again. Brief scores: IECC 379/6. V Vikrant 96, V Ghosh 54, S Sampath 53, S Sahoo 51 Friends 229(35 ov). A Sharma 4/46. Scorecard

Experimenting Engineers, Advantage Kytes

Bobby’s swollen face replaces pulled muscle

By Vimal Vikrant

31st July, Sunday, saw the Engineers take on the Shizuoka Kytes in a friendly match at the Fuji grounds. Originally planned for a 11 start, pre-poned to 10.30, the match started at 10.50am for a 40 overs a side match. Some rules were added as a part of the experiment; each bowler could bowl a maximum of 7 overs only and at least 8 bowlers had to bowl 2 overs each. The Engineers also shuffled around the batting order to give some of the lower middle order batsmen a go at the bowling. Yours truly won the toss and on popular demand elected to bat. (Of course personally I wanted to do that as well;-). The opposition started the bowling proceedings with the usual combo of Sharpe and Arbab. Both of them are very good bowlers and can make the ball do a lot. Myself and Bobby opened for the Engineers. The way it worked out was myself taking on Sharpe and Bobby taking on Arbab for almost the first 3 overs of each bowlers. Bobby was scoring the runs while I was content on playing out Sharpe. The first time Bobby faced upto Sharpe was an interesting combat. A huge inswinger which went between Bobby and his leg stump. Next ball a drive thru covers for a couple. A defence followed if I remember right. Anyway, after a quiet start Bobby fell to Sharpe, bowled by an indipper. Santosh joined me and did a very good job of keeping out the bowlers. The scoring picked up slowly. After the first drinks break at 14 overs, the engineers were 51/1). Almost immediately after the drinks break Santosh feathered a catch to the keeper and walked, even though the umpire was not quite sure. He had scored 13 and the partnership was worth 30 runs. And probably more importantly, the main bowlers had bowled a few of their overs. Bikash walked in. After a couple of close LBW calls, Bikash got adjusted to the pace of the pitch and started opening up. The bowlers helped by bowling to this strength and he helped himself to a few flicked boundaries. I managed to do a better job against the other bowlers and got a few across the boundary. Of course, there was a dropped catch in the deep too. The score reached 123 when I got out trying to repeat the same stroke which I was dropped off earlier, but this time, lesser altitude and a better positioned fielder lead to the catch being successful. Jagan walked in next and looked to be doing a good job when Bikash tried one flick too many and failed to keep the ball down. Taken by Sharpe at square leg. Sanjeeb followed in almost identical fashion. Sharpe was reintroduced at the bowling crease and immediately put the engineers further down by castling Jagan. Mahesh was sent in next but got out LBW first ball. Ashok Sharma hung around for a while without doing much but was again dismissed in a very similar fashion Bikash, flicking the ball to Sharpe at square leg, who seemed to have become some sort of ball magnet for the day. Prakash was also bowled by a Sharpe special slower one. Last wicket pair of Nissar and Silvy added some quick runs after this. Nissar in particular was very aggressive and hit a few boundaries. But with more than 3 overs to spare, Nissar was caught of a skier (of course by the ball magnet) going for a shot too many. A target of 195 to win and it should’ve been defendable. The innings turned over and the Kytes walked in. Myself and Jagan started the proceedings but did nothing more than beating the bat a few times. Nissar was introduced but was dealt with without too many hassles. Mahesh’s first 2 overs were tidy but in the third over he was smashed around the park by Joel. 2 sixers and a boundary in the over. Santosh was introduced from the other end and finally the breakthru, Neil bowled of an inswinger. Santosh did well overall with the ball giving away only 7 of his 3 overs. Sanjeeb was called in place of Mahesh and he got the danger man Joel out bowled with his change in pace. Arbab, the next man looked to be settling down with a couple of good hits when he was served up a Sharmaji special and all he managed to do was to edge it to be taken well in the slips by Sanjeeb. At this point the match was evenly poised and all the experimentation was left behind and proceedings were turning serious. Sharpe was hitting the ball around turning the Engineers to desperation. Jagan was called to help and he obliged, making him mishit a shot and I managed to hold onto a looping ball to the general relief in the camp. But debutant Suboda for the Kytes had other plans. He reminded me of Russel Arnold of the Sri Lankan national team. A left handed batsmen who looked very compact, he came and took the match away from us with a composed 37 n.o. None of the bowlers, other than Ashok managed to trouble him. There was another fizzer from Sharmaji that took Bobby, the keeper, flush on the face. He got hit right under the eye for an instantaneous swelling, forcing Bikash to don the gloves he had just removed at the drinks break. Anyway, after that the bowling changes done by yours truly did not bear fruit and the Kytes reached the total in a comfortable fashion. The experimentation probably cost us, but personally it was a nice experience to try out things. And the heartening thing was that the attitude of the Engineers in the ground was good throughout. Brief scores: IECC 194. V Vikrant 44, B Mohanty 30, N Harrison 5/32, M Sharpe 3/41 Kytes 198/4(35.? ov). Subodha 37*, J Chamberlain 32. Read Kytes’ report | Scorecard

Engineers regain upper hand over the Wombats

Wombats surrender meekly

By Amar Naresh

We played a friendly match with the Wombats on Sunday and what a hot day it turned out to be with the mercury going as high as 34 degrees Celsius and combining this with the problem we encountered with the rear tyre of Bobby’s car (driving at 160km/hr) made everything miserable except for the result which was a resounding victory for the Engineers. Skipper Viswa Ghosh, standing-in captain for the regular one, lost the toss and Wombats did what any side would do on a hot summer day – bat first. Wombats too had a new captain in the form of Ian Gason, who used his power to promote himself to the opener’s slot from the perennial number eleven position. The result of his decision must have given his team mates some food for thought. The Engineers opened the bowling with Biju Paul and Vimal Vikrant and they did pretty well containing Ian and call-in Neil Harrison but Neil didn’t last long as Vimal clean bowled him with not much on the score board. His replacement Smoking Pete lasted a few balls of Biju and had him caught behind off a delivery which drifted away from the batsman after pitching in line with the stumps. Vimal along with Biju bowled a steady line and length ensuring that the scoring run rate was less than 4 runs an over. Viswa got in Ashok Sharma as the next change and he proved to be a mean customer (as always) confusing the batsman with his length, variation and unpredictable turn. He along with Amar Naresh made sure that the scoring rate did not accelerate much and things were pretty much in control till Nissar Ahmad was introduced into the attack. Nissar generated good pace and seemed like he also created a bit of fear in batsman’s mind. He bowled his heart out and was rightly rewarded with 4 wickets. At no time the Wombats were really dominating but cruised along with a run rate of 3 to 3.5 runs an over. The high point of Wombats’ batting was the new skipper’s innings of 43.Vimal was unlucky on many occasions as he beat the batsman consistently with his out cutters but they did not seem to find the edges. Sharmaji also was unlucky as many of his persistent appeals didn’t find favour with the umpire. It was a revelation to see Bobby bowl his gentle medium pacers to pin point accuracy and did not allow the slog overs to looks as the name suggests. The Engineers’ fielding was above average with Santosh, Viswa, Nissar and Bobby (yes he took a brilliant one hander which very few Engineers would have attempted leave alone the catch… He ran in from deep backward square leg to fine leg and stretched his right hand out and surprised to see that the ball wouldn’t leave his hand! The Wombats innings closed at 136 all out in 39.5 overs. The Engineers started with Viswa and Vimal opening the innings. Viswa looked in a good touch as he flicked one off his pads to the square leg fence. He was happy to rotate the strike to Vimal who was in an enterprising mood and exhibited some classic cover drives, square cuts, and sweetly timed sweeps. Viswa departed quickly being trapped lbw and in came Nissar. He took some time to settle down and once got his eye in, he hit a huge six off a short ball. At the other end Vimal was going great guns and he continued treating the Wombats bowlers with disdain. The partnership between Nissar and Vimal sealed the fate of the match as it nullified what ever chances Wombats had after an early break they had got. Around this time Wombats introduced a new bowler who frustrated our batsmen with a string of wides and during this course Nissar got out but by then the match was pretty much in Engineers control. In walked Bikash and with his steady approach ensured that he kept rotating the strike. Vimal reached his 50 with a sweetly times cover drive and after that got out giving chance to Bobby to finish the match in company with Bikash. The match was followed by barbeque session arranged by Nick Shannon of the Kytes who came in with the express purpose of rooting for Biju but was disappointed to find that Biju actually didn’t have to bat. As usual, the Wombats gave away their MoM awards with a bottle of Hardy’s wine. Ian Gason and Viaml Vikrant were chosen from the Wombats’ and Engineers side respectively. For the Engineers, it was time to decide their first ever HumTum TV sponsored Man of the Match award. Nissar Ahmad was chosen to have the privilege of the first official MoM of the Engineers for his 4 wicket haul in addition to his cameo innings. Over all, it was a good game and it is always a pleasure to play a winning game! Brief scores: T Wombats 136 (39.5 ov). I Gason 43, N Ahmed 4/20 IECC 137/3 (21.3 ov). V Vikrant 56. Read Wombats’ report

Avinash Jadhav vs. Indian Engineers

Engineers lose fighting…hard

By Biju Paul

Literally, it was one man against eleven. And against all odds, one man defeated the eleven. Avinash Jadhav’s unbeaten 102 and later his three wicket haul ensured that YC&AC stayed on course although the Engineers caused some concern in the opposition camp until the 30th over when the Engineers lost 3 wickets for 2 runs in the space of 13 deliveries. YC&AC won the toss and elected to bat first. Sanjeeb Sahoo drew the first blood in the third over of the match when he trapped YC&AC opener Duncan Price in front of the wicket. As usual, no batsman believes he is out LBW and Duncan was no different. On his way back to the pavilion Duncan let his thought known to the umpire but that did not change anything. After a spate of wides, skipper replaced Sanjeeb with Vimal Vikrant, who has not been having a good season so far either with the bat or ball. His first over went for 11 runs, second 8 and third an economical 5, a total of 24 runs off 3 overs. That kind of figures would worry any captain, coming as it does from one of the trusted all rounders. So Sriram turned to another trusted bowler, pardon me, all rounder, Ashok Sharma. He did what he was supposed to do – bowled 8 overs at a stretch for 2/18. Over the years, Ashok has been very successful in trapping the batsmen in front of the wicket. In this case too, both his wickets came through LBW decisions. Many a times, batsmen go back to cut or go on back foot defence but lose the sight of the ball to be caught plumb in front. Abdul Rahim and Dinesh Singh both went on back foot defence but missed the ball and umpire did what is right to the Engineers query. Dinesh’s brief stay at the wicket was not all that pleasant for both the batsman and the Engineers. As soon as he came in, he edged a ball to the first slip but the slip fielder – this writer – was placed at the second slip position. Later he spooned a delivery from Ashok to covers and Jagan Panda managed to make an easy catch look difficult and dropped it after juggling it a few times. The batsmen looked in a hurry to go back as he started swinging and missing. The nervousness of the batsman was very visible and this writer, fielding at the slips, did not forget to have some unsettling chat with him. An over later, the nervousness or carelessness, as you may call it, showed up again. Dinesh pushed the last ball of an over from Jagan to point. As soon as the ball returned to the ‘Keeper, the batsman stepped out of the crease, apparently ignoring the agility and sharpness of the ‘Keeper, Bobby Philips. Bobby did not blink an eye before he dislodged the bails and the square-leg umpire’s finger went up in response to the Engineers’ query. However, not being alert enough, the main umpire had called over which neither the square-leg umpire nor the fielders or the batsman heard. Apparently the only two people who heard the over call was the non-striker and the bowler. As the Engineers gathered to hail the sprightly ‘keeper, Avinash Jadhav, the non-striking batsmen called Dinesh, who was walking by then, back. Quite naturally, an argument ensued as to whose call is right – the square leg umpire’s or the main umpire’s. Sriram made it known to the umpires that their final decision will be acceptable to the Engineers. Quite rightly, it was decided that the over call overrules any other calls and the Engineers accepted it wondering how many more ‘lives’ will Dinesh enjoy before they see his back. Soon after, Dinesh edged Ashok to the full-of-beans ‘keeper and the Engineers went up appealing but the umpire was unmoved. Life number four to the same batsman. Ashok at last had his revenge when he trapped Dinesh in front of the wicket two balls later, which was the last ball of his last over. Fortunately, the ‘lives’ the batsmen enjoyed did cost the Engineers only 15 runs. All this while, Avinash was circumspect in his approach. The next man in was David Todd, a man with a very unconventional batting style, giving the Engineers a hope of a quick wicket. Bowlers licked their lips fancying their chances of getting to bowl at David, but for all his batting style, David was quite successful playing a few pull shots which earned him a total of 32 runs and the duo put on 130 runs partnership for the 5th wicket. Avinash by this time had set himself free. He had started attacking the bowling. Vimal, Sharmaji’s replacement bore the brunt of the attack as his next two overs went for 21 runs. Vimal had one solace when he clean bowled David after the batsmen pulled him for two sixes in the same over. A worried skipper brought in Nissar Ahmed to no avail. Nissar was cleaned up in two overs for 21 runs. To use an overused phrase, Avinash was seeing the ball like a football. All his hits were clean. He obviously was enjoying the life he received when the skipper dropped him at the mid-wicket boundary, when a straight ball into the throat was messed up. The batman was in his 20s at that time, a huge let off. Sriram then turned to this writer for succour. Change of bowling brought an edge off Avinash to the vacant slip area and a relatively quite over in which only 4 runs were taken but his next over turned out to be his last in which 18 runs, 14 of which by Avinash, were taken after a mistimed pull by Avinash went out of Sriram’s fingers. From 96/5 in the 23rd over, YC&AC batsmen put on 161 runs in the next 17 overs, 102 of which was by Avinash, for a total of 257/6. Engineers did not do any favour to themselves when both the openers, Vimal and skipper Sriram, returned to the pavilion by the 5th over for 17 runs. Two more wickets fell by the 14th over for 45 runs. This brought Sanjeeb and Nissar together and the Engineers saw one of the best rebuilding of the innings in recent times. Playing cautiously and waiting for the loose balls, they batted sensibly and applied themselves. Once they were set, they gave the Engineers a glimmer of hope of an unlikely victory as the batsmen kept hammering the YC&AC bowlers. Kamran kept shuffling the bowlers but the only bowler to make an effect was Avinash, who after s stupendous performance with the bat, returned to claim Nissar’s wicket – result of a brilliant catch by Sandeep Deobhakta at point – for 43(3×4, 1×6). The partnership was worth 101 runs in 15 overs and the score was 146, just 3 runs ahead of the YC&AC score at that stage. Between overs 22 and 30, when Nissar’s wicket fell, the Engineers were ahead of YC&AC in terms of runs scored at specific intervals. A comparison table is given below:

Over YC&AC Engineers
15 68/4 50/4
20 88/4 79/4
25 110/5 122/4
30 144/6 147/6
40 257/6 205/10

Fall of Nissar made way for two more quick wickets. Santosh Ghadge went for extravagant sweep off Tony Fordyce to be clean bowled. Soon Sanjeeb returned for a personal score of 55 (6×4), also falling to Avinash. After this, Jagan Panda entertained briefly with a quick fire 32(5×4) off only 28 balls to take the score to 196. By then the target was put beyond reach by one man – Avinash Jadhav, first by batting the Engineers out of the game and then snapping up three wickets, including that of Nissar and Sanjeeb who were threatening to take the game away from the YC&AC. Brief scores: YC&AC 257/6. A Jadhav 102, D Todd 36 IECC 205(40 ov). S Sahoo 55, N Ahmed 43, J Panda 32, A Jadhav 3/16, K Ali 3/48.

One-sided affair sees Engineers defeat the Dragons

Nissar’s all-round performance sees the Engineers through

By Vimal Vikrant

The day dawned gloomy with a hint of rain in the air. There was confusion whether the match would take place. But things were sorted out and the match got underway at 10.15, 45min behind schedule, and with 8 dragons and 10 engineers on field. One member from each side joined a little later and the engineers loaned one player to the dragons to make it 10 a side. Yours truly, leading the side for the first time, lost the toss and the Dragons promptly elected to bat. No complaints though, since it was overcast. The ball would do a bit. And a bit it did. The bowling proceedings were started with the regular combination of Sanjeeb and Jagan. Both got the ball to move prodigiously, though Jagan looked more in control. In the first 6 overs there was hardly a shot played and almost nothing in front of the square. Both batsmen played and missed numerous times, but stuck around. I came in first change and the batsmen wanted to have a go at me to increase the run rate. But Akshat got deceived by a slower ball and was bowled, the ball just disturbing the bails. The batsmen kept walking in and walking back as the bowlers went about their job efficiently. Nissar in particular was almost unplayable as he seemed to be aiming for the top of off stump almost every ball. He took 2 wickets in two consecutive gems of deliveries, the first one the batsman edging to the keeper, Bikash taking a good catch to a lifting ball. The next delivery hit the top of off stump to dislodge the bail. After this hostile bit of play, the Engineers loosened up and everybody other than the keeper had a bowl. Silvester came in for one over and took a wicket, courtesy a stunning left-hand catch by Santosh at backward square leg, plucking the fast travelling ball out of thin air, just like that. The loosening got a little out of hand towards the end though with the 8th wicket pair of Nick and Rajesh getting into the bowling a little bit. Nick in particular starting throwing his bat around for a few good hits. The main bowlers were called back in but they batsmen managed to stick around till almost the very end. Nissar closed the innings with a yorker. Engineers needed 145 to win. The batting was started by myself with new man Santosh. Santosh fell early and Silvester walked in at number 3 and immediately got down to task, unleashing his trademark square drives and cuts getting boundaries almost at will. I got a couple of boundaries but as is becoming customary with me, gave a catch to mid-off. Sanjeeb walked in and seemed like he wanted to have fun. He stayed around for a while, but lost his wicket to an ugly across the line hoick which was caught at mid on. In the next ball Silvester, who had crossed over, lost his stumps as the ball kept just a bit low and came in after pitching. 2 new men at the crease – Nissar and Santosh – and things looked slightly dicey for the Engineers, but both batsmen got down to task, keeping the good balls out and smashing the bad balls. Nissar looked in good nick and some drives on the offside were a treat to watch from the umpiring position that I was in:) Also a couple of effortless sixes over square leg got the score racing along. Santosh gave one chance in the slips which was dropped, but otherwise batted quite sensibly. As the engineers raced towards victory the batsmen tried to engineer strike so that Nissar could get to his well-deserved half century, but with 3 runs required for victory and 5 required by Nissar for a 50, he took a swing trying to clear the boundary, but missed the line completely to be bowled. Bikash walked in next and kept the good balls out and the bad balls were too wide to do anything. And the winning run was a wide. Game over in the 25th over with 5 wickets to spare for the engineers. A fun outing and an interesting experience leading the side, though I had hardly anything to do given the efficient performance by the Engineers. Brief scores: T Dragons 144 (34.3 ov). N Ahmed 3/24 IECC 145/5 (24 ov). N Ahmed 45.

Engineers bounce back with a sensational win over the KCL champions

Two giant-killers seal an upset victory

By Biju Paul

At a time when the Engineers were looking down to the Division II as their possible destination next season, two of their trusted performers produced sensational performances when the Engineers needed it the most to redeem them from a string of poor results. These two individuals ably supported by the rest of the team made sure that the Engineers can still harbour hopes of a possible semi-final berth. And the team the Engineers grounded was none other than the champions themselves, the Tokyo Giants. First, it was the diminutive off spinner Ashok Sharma who mesmerised the Giants with a magical spell of 3/12, including the wicket of skipper and danger man Mumtaz Alam for a duck, off 8 overs to bowl the Giants out for only 153 in 32.1 overs. Then later it was Viswa Ghosh, a man who has been desperately searching for his form all the season and despite getting younger day by day stayed at the crease from over number 1 until the Engineers won the match in the 38th over, to remain undefeated on 85. As far as this writer can remember, this is the first time the Giants ever dropped a full KCL match. An earlier loss came to them last year in a rain truncated match of 20 overs per side against the YC&AC. For the Engineers, this was a do-or-die match but the mood in the camp through the week and on the day seemed more of a die than a do, given the Giants’ superior status in the League circuit. Unlike any other week that precedes a match, there was no email communication, no discussion on strategy and the investment banks in Tokyo saw a more productive week. The Engineers were in dire straits as they had been handed defeats in the previous two matches, the only victory of sorts came when the British Embassy decided to forfeit their game thus giving the Engineers a free 4 points without any sweat. The ground was ready and laid out when the Engineers convoy of 3 cars arrived in the morning. Skipper Sriram Sampath called the coin wrong and Mumtaz Alam had no hesitation in choosing to bat, your reporter was told. And did they begin in terrific form. The very 2nd ball of the innings was sent over long on for a huge 6 by Sajjad Hussain followed by two more 4s. Sanjeeb Sahoo suffered, Giants gained, Sajjad rolled on. Opening from the other end, this writer managed to have the other opener, Jahangir Babbar, to mishit a ball over mid off but unfortunately the fielder was placed short and the ball went to kiss the rope. The ball kissed the rope one more time in the same over due to a misfield but comparatively an economical over! The third over produced two more 6s and one more 4, all by Sajjad and all clean hits in the V. At the end of the 3rd over, the Giants must have been reasonably happy with their small score of 38 for no loss. But accidents do happen and it did happen on Sunday. As the Giants looked all set to score yet another 300+ runs and the Engineers resigned to yet another gruelling day on the field, yours truly managed to lure both the openers to mishit in the same over in a space of two balls. Both Santosh Ghadge and Sanjeeb Sahoo held on to the two high catches. Sanjeeb’s celebration for being involved in his tormentor’s wicket would probably have invited the wrath of the ICC for over-celebration. But the absence of a match referee saved his match fee. It would have been 3 wickets in that over as two balls later the new batsman, Tausif Azhar, edged one behind but the ‘keeper failed to collect it, not entirely the fault of the ‘keeper as the ball failed to rise. Fortunately, the life given to the batsman didn’t prove costly as the batsman gave away his wicket two overs later. The fall of both openers in one over and introduction of Vimal Vikrant and Ashok Sharma saw the run rate slowly dropping but the earlier rampage by Sajjad had ensured that the Giants maintained a more than healthy run rate of 7+ runs per over. However, both Vimal and Ashok began tightening the screws by maintaining a tight line and length, not giving the batsmen any room to hit. Apparently due to instructions from the dressing room and occasional calls from the pavilion, the batsmen played very cautiously and occasionally nervously – a huge departure from the typical aggressive and fearless batting style the Giants are known for. Rocky, normally a hard hitter, was content to play for singles but on one occasion when he called for two for a ball he played to third man but  Silvester’s throw from the boundary beat the batsman and Sriram behind the stumps didn’t fumble. Rocky was gone, Giants in deep trouble having 3 wickets down for 60 odd runs off 10 overs. The stage was set for the captain to walk in. As his opposite number watched from behind the stumps, Mumtaz began his heavy responsibility of rebuilding the innings along with Tausif but after snaring two quick wickets, the Engineers were not to let he advantage go. As the runs dried up, the batsmen grew impatient and started showing signs of desperation and began swinging their bats, which would eventually lead to their downfall and it did. One such swing against Vimal missed the bat of Tausif but didn’t miss his pads in line of the stump. The Engineers went up in appeal and the so did the dreaded finger. And for the first time, the Engineers had the Giants on the back foot. To have the champions at 4/80 off 13 overs is not something that you always dream about. The turning point of the match came in the next over. Mumtaz played a couple of balls confidently, but then Ashok produced what can safely be described as the ball of the game, one that pitched on the middle stump line and slightly short. As the batsmen went for a sweep, the ball suddenly appeared to have gained some speed and took Mumtaz by surprise. As the batsman fell off balance, the ball uprooted the middle stump. Mumtaz was gone for a duck. Giants 5 down for 94. Engineers rushed to the middle, almost threw Sharmaji up in the air. The celebration was as if the game was won and indeed it was. Suddenly Giants found themselves in an unfamiliar territory. The top 5 were razed clinically. Would the lower order withstand the pressure the Engineers unexpectedly exerted? Would they reach 150? Skipper Sriram decided to go for the kill and continued with Ashok until he finished his quota of 8 overs to have a handsome figures of 3/12. There was not much resistance from this point on although Ahmad Kamal in  the company of Rashid Rana tried to accelerate. At this point, skipper brought back a bleeding Sanjeeb to have some consolation and he repaid his captain’s faith by taking two wickets but in the end analysis, Sanjeeb had a forgettable 2/57 against his name. But the master stroke by the captain was the introduction of Viswa into the attack. He had the free stroking Rana clean bowled after being hit for a huge 6 over the bowler’s head. In the end, the Giants folded up for 152 off 32.1 overs, no mean achievement by the Engineers. They couldn’t have lost the game from this stage. In the end analysis, Ashok’s spell of 8-2-12-3 broke the back of the Giants and more or less sealed the match for the Engineers. The importance and enormity of this spell can be understood only when looked at it in perspective, not in isolation. The Engineers were in a hopeless situation so far and desperate for a victory to stay afloat in Division I, the Giants have a clean record against all teams, they have never scored anything less than 200 runs in any KCL match, Engineers had a nightmarish match against them in the semi-final last year when they scored 350 odd runs. Under these circumstances, to have 3/12 off 8 overs against them is one hell of a performance. The ball that flummoxed Mumtaz being nominated to the Ball of the Year award category. Another remarkable aspect of the bowling was the extras or lack thereof. In all only 3 wides and 3 no balls were bowled and only two catches were dropped, a far cry from close to a dozen dropped ones in the previous match. After lunch it was left to the openers to do the job and boy, what a disastrous start it was! After playing two balls comfortably, Vimal pushed the third one away from the body. Just as it was going to land on the ground, Ahmad Kamal, the bowler, dived on his follow through and caught the ball just centimeters above the ground. A perfect start for Giants defending a small total. But that was not the end. In his very next over, Ahmad produced a delivery that took the edge of skipper Sriram’s bat and his opposite number accepted it gleefully at gully. Dejected, Sriram walked back but not before he produced a beautiful on drive off Barkat Ali in the previous over. Engineers 2/14 in the 5th over. Sanjeeb, the new batsman is not unfamiliar to such crisis situations. He along with Viswa, the opening bat began yet another rebuilding of the day. Coming off a series of poor scores, Viswa pulled and drove with felicity, fortified by the company of Sanjeeb and later Silvester and went about his task of gathering runs with consummate ease. While Viswa was at the crease the bowling was palpably ineffective. The nimble footwork, a veritable sashay down the ramp and silken timing, the poise and elegance were there for all to see. By the time Sanjeeb departed for a personal score of 10, and team score of 62, he had done a wonderful job of seeing off the opening bowlers and frustrating the others. The duo had put on a partnership of 48 runs off 10 overs which put the result of the match reasonably beyond doubt. Next in, Nissar “Lara” Ahmed did show glimpses of Brian but was caught wooden footed in front of the stumps off Tausif Azhar. Two quick wickets and Engineers in trouble again with score at 4/63. Next man Silvester, proved to be an active partner to Viswa and both of them batted cautiously while accumulating runs. Silvester did give a chance but of all people, skipper Mumtaz dropped the sitter at mid on. By then the horse had bolted the stable anyway. The rest was all clean hitting, too clean for Giants’ comfort. A brief shower in between sent the Engineers scurrying for calculators and rain-interrupted match rules. At the end of 32nd over, Engineers were 10 runs behind the target if the match was to be stopped at that stage. Message was quickly sent to the middle and by the end of the 35th over Engineers were on target. Luckily the rain dissipated and Engineers coasted home in the 38th over with Viswa on 85*(79 balls, 8×4) and Silvester 39*(28 balls, 4×4). But more than the sum total of Viswa’s runs, or its intrinsic value in the ultimate victory, the way the Engineers tore the attack into smithereens should send shock waves to the rest of the teams and fill their hearts with fear and awe. Over all, the game was played in a friendly atmosphere with Tony Fordyce of YC&AC officiating it. Giants led by skipper Mumtaz, as usual, were at the best of their sportsmanship and spirit. Thank you guys! Brief scores: T Giants 152 (32.2 ov). A Sharma 3/12 IECC 153/4 (37.4 ov). V Ghosh 85*, S Pereira 39* Click here for the full scorecard.

Catches win/lose matches – a practical demonstration by the Engineers

An estimated 10 catches grassed

By Vimal Vikrant

The day started good enough. The Engineers captain, Sriram Sampath, won the toss (as always?) and elected to bat. Yours truly and Viswa Ghosh opened the innings. The bowling for the opposition, Millennium, was opened by Matsubara and Razzaq, both left handed bowlers with decent pace. There were a few play-and-miss balls. There was one brute of a delivery from Razzak that Viswa tried to hook, but the bouncy Fuji track threw his calculations awry and he was smacked on the forehead. He did come back the next ball for a boundary, so it was all happening. But the score progress was slow and steady for the first few overs. The scoring rate did not exceed 4 runs per over till the 8th over. But more importantly, no wickets lost. The openers managed a half century partnership for the first time this season.

The first bowling change came in the form of Kazamatsuri who was bowling quite a few variations and there were a few miscued hits. In his third over, Viswa tried a drive but was deceived by the change of pace and was bowled off an inside edge for 26. 64/1 in the 13th over and a nice platform for the captain to walk in. The next 6 overs produced 40 runs. Things seemed to be getting set for a big score when Kazamatsuri stuck again, this time yours truly going for an expansive drive, without being close enough to the ball, and feathering the slightest of edges for the keeper to take it. I walked back for 37 and the Engineers down to 104/2 in the 19th over. Bobby was sent up the order and he and Sriram held out until the drinks.

After the drinks break the scoring rate seemed to go up with 14 runs coming in 2 overs, when Bobby miscued a hit and was caught. Sanjeeb Sahoo walked in next but this time Sri miscued a hit and was out caught for a quick 43 off 39 balls. This hit the Engineers hard and wickets fell at regular intervals from here while the scoring rate dropped. Sanjeeb tried a hoick a delivery but only succeeded in lobbing it to point. Nissar Ahmed was looking good but was unfortunately run out when he slipped and fell in the middle of the pitch while trying to get back into the crease, after being sent back by Silvester. Bikash Mohanty was bowled around his legs trying to sweep the first ball that he faced off Munir, the well-known leg spinner of the opposition.

Ajey Kulkarni tried blocking his way out of the situation, well against his nature, but was out caught and bowled when he pushed too hard at the ball. Jagan Panda walked in and then the scoring moved a further as he hit a couple of boundaries during his stay. But he too walked back in the effort to go for the big hits as the innings was drawing to a close. Last man Ashok Sharma walked in and the opposition brought in their strike bowler Razzaq. But what followed was totally unexpected by everybody. First ball, over pitched and smashed to long off for a boundary. Second ball, outside off stump and missed. Third ball, bouncer into the rib cage, but expertly played by Sharmaji. Fourth ball, full toss and timed away to the midwicket boundary. The bowler came on fuming and this bouncer went about 5 feet over the batsman’s head all the way to the boundary. Yet another wayward delivery went for 4 byes. One the whole, the over went for 19 runs and the Engineers were looking at the 200 that just a little while looked a far away target. Silvester all the while was a calm presence at the other end getting the singles and keeping the scoreboard moving.

The score did reach 200 in the next over, but it was too much to expect Ashok’s luck to run for much longer and he tried a typical tail ender hoick, only for the ball to crash into his stumps. The Engineers dismissed for an even 200 and probably 20 more than expected although if one looked at the middle of the innings, it was a good 20 less.

For Millennium the batting was opened by Munir and Iida and the bowling for the Engineers by Sanjeeb and Ajey. The opening bowling spell was quite good by both bowlers and neither batsman got easy runs. There were a few play and misses and yours truly dropped a reflex chance at short midwicket though I did get a hand to it. This was a start to a bout of butter fingers that was unbelievable to watch. All the tough chances were taken, all the easy ones were dropped. But the main beneficiary was Munir who made the most of the 3 “lives” that he was given to score a century to lead them to victory. Sanjeeb got rid of the opener Iida caught at point by me. Next man in Matsuhisa was caught behind by Bobby off Jagan. Jagan and yours truly did a decent job of keeping the batsmen in control (even though I say so myself, 8 overs for 29 is not bad I guess:)

Sriram brought in the bowling changes and fielding changes to good effect, creating chances, but there were a whole lot of catches dropped all around the wicket and the batsmen made full use of the lives to keep getting runs of any loose balls. Ashok picked up 4 wickets, 2 of which were skiers held well by Sanjeeb and Nissar. A few other wickets also fell towards the end, but it was too little too late as Munir had ensured that the others didn’t have to do much. Millennium got to their target in 38.2 overs, the exact number of overs that the Engineers lasted.

A day when the Engineers did almost everything okay except hold on the balls flying towards them. We have to really think about how to improve our catching, (maybe more practice?) because the ground fielding was good compared to the earlier matches. This situation gets tougher with the us in KCL with an unenviable position of having to win our remaining matches to get into the semis. Let’s hope things improve soon for us, or else we might not even remain in Division I!

Brief Scores: IECC 200(38.2 overs). S Sampath 43, V Vikrant 37 Millennium 204/7(38.2 overs). M Ahmed 101, R Chima 31, A Sharma 4/45. Click here for the full scorecard.