Engineers make it 6 in a row while Al Karam reserves a berth in D-I next year
By Jude Joseph
The day dawned gloomy with more than 80% chance of rain. There was a doubt whether the match would ultimately take place. But as optimistic as ever Indian Engineers proceeded to Gunma. As usual things were sorted out and the match was reduced to 25 overs a side and got underway at 11.00AM. Captain Bobby won the toss and elected to bat which turned out to be a good decision considering the below points, Al- karam was short of players with just 8 fielders on the field and if the match had washed out , it would have provided the much needed batting practice to out of form Engineers.
Captain came up with a new batting line up to utilise the 25 overs efficiently, regular opener Vimal Vikrant opened the innings with the newcomer Ritesh Kakar. Ritesh playing as an opener for the first time impressed one and all with his technique and temperament. Both of them started cautiously. Against run of play Vimal went for a big heave (which he later blamed on the skipper instigating him from the square leg umpire’s position) and got bowled with the score of 21/1. This paved the way for our batting sensation Sriram Sampath to the crease, after taking few deliveries to get settled, Sriram beautifully launched into Al-karam bowling attack. At the other end, Ritesh who was playing well by taking singles and twos promised to produce a good total with their partnership. As things were going well for Engineers, everyone thought that the time has come to accelerate the run rate further. Ritesh tried to oblige and produced a few good shots. In one such attempt, Ritesh tried to clear the long off fielder against their most successful opening bowler Manzoor Ahmad (5/12 in 5 overs) but the ball went straight to him. Engineers lost the second wicket at the score of 93/2 in the 16th over.
This gave a chance to a debutant Udayaraj to show his batting skills, but unluckily he was adjudged LBW without disturbing the scorers. Next came Sanjeeb Sahoo, the situation was a tailor made for him to go for big shots. He played sensibly as at the other end Sriram was batting with ease but all of a sudden situation turned bad as the runs were difficult to come by and Engineers started losing wickets regularly and ended up 146/7 in the allotted 25 overs, which was a good score as far as the Engineers were concerned, considering their past performances this season. But considering the situation at the end of 15 overs , 90 odd runs for the loss of 1 wicket, Engineers should have scored more than 7 or 8 runs in their last 10 overs which would have taken the score to 160 to 170 runs (but even that would not have made any difference to the result, as we will come to know WHY from the below). Most successful bowler for Al-karam was their opening bowler, Manzoor Ahmad, who dismissed Engineer’s top 3 batsmen and was most economical(5-0-12-3).
In his first spell , Manzoor took the wicket of Vimal and in his last over, took the wickets of Ritesh and Udayaraj. As everyone knows it is easy to do a post match analysis and also no ifs and buts in Cricket but still it should be a learning experience for the coming matches and we should be aware of these situations. Ritesh went for a big shot against the most successful bowler who was in his last over, If we had played his last over without losing a wicket by playing singles and twos, things might have worked out better in the remaining overs with the partnerships of Sriram and Ritesh. According to our captain, Al-Karam was very happy with the score as they were confident of chasing down this target(skipper overheard their conversation, which must have terrified him!). At the same time, Engineers had their hope as they thought run making would be difficult with the heavy and wet outfield, courtesy slight drizzle. The Engineers opened their bowling attack with Sangan Kalgi and Vimal Vikrant but before the bowlers got settled down, Al-Karam took the bowlers apart and runs started flowing in 4s and 6s. Captain in no time went for the change and brought Ritesh into attack.
Ritesh obliged captain’s call and produced a straight incoming delivery which rearranged the woods of the opener. It was a vital breakthrough as that batsman was scoring at will. The Engineers hoped that would provide some breathing space but it was not to be, The new batsman was more dangerous than the dismissed one. Their captain went for a powerful airy shot , ball went straight to Udayaraj stationed at short midwicket , but the ball popped out of his hand with the same speed as it came in. From then on there was no stopping of Al-Karam. Captain tried all his tricks by giving chance to each and every bowler but all received the same treatment. At the end, Al-karam reached the target with extraordinary ease with 8 wickets in hand and more than 10 overs to spare in a 25 overs match. This shows the strength of hard hitting Al-Karam batsmen. Final score 149/2 in 14.3 overs and in that only one over was bowled without giving a single 4 and less than 6 runs.
This shows that our bowlers lacked in consistency in bowling line and length. It is easier said than done but this can be improved only by sheer practice in the nets. If we look at the positives from this match, Ritesh batted well and Sriram showed that he is in good touch even after a long break. Lessons – Bowlers should bowl consistently well , 2 very good balls and 4 HIT ME balls in an over will not do any good to the team. Instead 6 straight, line and length ,good balls will be great. Fielders need to improve their catching and fielding. Half chances should be converted to win matches, all the fielders in the deep should be able to judge well and time the jump to perfection to catch few six going balls within the rope. As I said earlier its easier said than done, but practice makes perfect. In conclusion, Al-Karam played really well and Engineers was a no match on that day.
Brief scores: IECC 146/6 (25 ov). S Sampath 58, R Kakar 38 Al Karam (149/2) (14.3 ov). Adris 50, Haneef Niazi 51. Scorecard