Category: 2007

Wombats play allround Cricket

Engineers fail to put up fighting total

 By Biju Paul

 The 7th Pacific Cup didn’t live up to the hype the teams played up through pre-match emails. Rather it was a tame and one-sided affair with the Engineers not being able to put up a decent score, underlining their weak batting strength for the past 3 years. But to be fair, it is a fact that most teams in Japan has only two or three good batsmen and when they are missing from the lineup, the team suddenly becomes vulnerable even to ordinary bowling attacks.

Enough of justification for the loss and into the story. Engineers won the toss and skipper elected to bat first after a divided opinion – based on which car you traveled in the morning. Skipper assigned Ritesh, the man with an eye on the opener’s slot for a long time, as the partner to regular opener Vimal. Both seemed to play well and at good pace until Wombats opening bowler, Ray, induced Vimal a false shot and was caught at mid-on in the 3rd over. Early loss of a wicket forced the Engineers think-tank to send Santosh as a pinch hitter, and man did he do the job! Wombats’ normally sedate Ian Gason was carted on the park, made to utter comments such as “don’t charge at me” when the batsman’s one foot is one foot inside the crease. Second change Dawson was so rattled with a consecutive four and six that he the next two deliveries became beamers and the bowler was duly taken off and Ferris completed the over. On the other end, Ritesh continued his go slow policy, in the pretext of holding fort and rotating the strike. End of 10 overs saw Engineers posting 49/1, no doubt a decent score by any standards. But Ian ended Ritesh’s agony by clean bowling him after scoring 7 runs off 30 deliveries. Did the Engineers discover yet another Wall? From then the story took the familiar course for the Engineers. From 49/1 in 10 overs, they slumped to 60/6 in 17 overs, giving the Wombats some easy meat. New comer Mayank helped establish some semblance of order by some lusty hits over the top and gave some respectability to Engineers’ ultimate total of 110. His aggressive 23 runs included a top edged 6, which traveled higher up more than twice the distance it needed to clear the boundary. Not having enough runs to defend, captain lobbed the ball to Vimal and Anurag to provide an ideal start. Seeing no results coming after the first few overs, he took the ball in his own hand (pun unintended) and almost produced immediate result. A short ball, a pull by batsman, ball flies to the strategically placed fielder at square leg boundary. Fielder does not have to move an inch, ball lands into his hands and through his hands into the grass safely for four. From then on, Wombats batsmen played a chanceless innings while this writer tried almost every bowler he could see on the field. As the skipper reached his wits end and Wombats near the target, he called Bobby and Bikash, to salvage some pride and avoid the ignominy of loosing the match by 10 wickets. Both bowled well and Bobby brought a wicket when he caught Jarrad plumb in front of the wicket. By that time, the Wombats had an opening stand of 107 runs, just 4 short of the target. Over all, Wombats played good all round cricket. They bowled well, took their catches and batted sensibly. With this, they will be facing the Kytes in the Pacific Cup final.

Brief scores: IECC 110. S Ghadge 34, M Prakash 23 Womats 111/1. C Mortimer 50*, J Shearer 40.

Nagoya throws Engineers out of the KCL semi-final chances

Nissar’s bowling heroics go in vain

 By Amol Vaidya

 Its a bouncy bouncy Shizuoka. If anyone tells you that the ball does not bounce on flix pitches, they should have watched the Engineers v. Nagoya match at Shizuoka. No one imgined that 12 Aug would happen to be the day of the best ever bowling display by an Engineer. It was none other than Nissar Ahmed who started cautiously with a perfect off side attack. Slowly he started picking up pace and got a terrific bounce from the dead wicket. But along with the display of speed and bounce it was real bowling craftsmanship that won him his first wicket. Nagoya started off well with a 49 runs opening partnership which was broken when first change Sanjeeb had Tariq, the opener, caught behind for 21. Soon, Saqib, the skipper and other opener followed having caught with leg in front of the stumps to Sanjeeb. Nagoya 55/2. At this stage skipper thought Bobby, who put up two outstanding bowling performance in the previous two matches by taking a total of 7 wickets, would be a good bet and was brought on.

He bowled reasonably well but could not do the job for which he was brought on – to take wickets. Nissar replaced Bobby to unleash one of the best pace bowling display. Nagoya’s no. 3, Ijaz, was stunned by a super fast bouncer, probably the first ball of the innings that took the batsman off guard. Nissar followed it up with yet another bouncer, pushing the batsman on the back foot. Next followed the first of the 5 magic balls. The third ball was at the perfect spot and left the batsman’s off stump disturbed. That was when the nagoya batsmen sensed fear. Batsmen came and went back. In a matter of 6 overs, Nissar had victimized 5 batsman. At one stage, the skipper set almost a Test match field for Nissar, two slips, gully, point, short cover, mod off, long-on and square leg. Captain had such faith in Nissar that he left the entire area between square leg and long on vacant and the bowler did not disappoint his skipper. The big hitting Nagoya batsmen were forced to play on back foot, many times, the ball bouncing to such level that batsmen were forced to ask for helmets on the flicx pitch! Nissar continued his aggression throughout his 6 over spell that accounted for 5 batsmen, with two of his victims falling in two consecutive balls and that over also produced 3 wickets. At 141/7, Nagoya’s Ahmed Gul walked in wearing a helmet – he later admitted that it was the first time in his life he wore one. Gul, in his previous encounter with the Engineers had almost single handedly took the game away from the Engineers early in the season with a 40-odd ball 70+ runs. True to his reputation, Gul tried to counter-attack Nissar by lofting the first ball he faced, only to find Sanjeeb lurking at long-on.

The ball landed safely in his hands, reducing Nagoya to 141/8. At the second drinks break the Engineers were confident that they would have a small target to chase. Nagoya was 141/8 in 25 overs. But what was to follow was sheer carnage. There was no one to put an equal pressure on the other end and the 9th wicket fell only at 202 and the last wicket put up an unbroken partnership of 53 runs with Hamim Khan at no. 10 scoring 46 valuable runs(I would like to ask them about their diet). Also as usual some sloppy fielding and extras added to the total, much to the embarrassment of the Engineers. All said and done the Engineers had to chase 256 in their allotted 40 overs. Vimal and this writer opened the innings for the Engineers. Probably picking some tips from Nissar’s book the Nagoya bowlers also bowled very well. Though they bowled wides occasionally, they were quite fast and bouncy too.

Trying to accelerate the innings a bit, Vimal edged one to the keeper. This marked the start of yet another familiar collapse for the Engineers. Next to follow was Amol, who was yorked by an inswinging yorker from Ahmed Gul. Nissar along with sanjeeb was the right combination at this juncture. But unlike his steady shots Nissar fell to a bouncer, trying to pull it to the ropes, but managing only to get a glove on it to the ‘keeper. In walked Bobby “The Wall” Philips. Indeed Bobby tried to be a wall between the attacking Nagoya bowlers and the Engineers’ score! He blocked ball after ball and the scores recorded dot after dot against his name, all of 19 balls. Only an unfortunate run-out, when he tried to help the striker get a run, stopped the batsmen from being a true wall and a serious contender for Fuji Far East’s Sato, who, two years ago scored a marathon duck off 36 balls. Expectedly, after the fall of the Wall, batsmen came and went. Another twist came when Engineers no. 8 Minhaj and Biju were batting. They batted for nearly 7 overs with Minhaj almost out stripping Bobby of the title. Only a miscounting by Minhaj resulted in he taking his first single after 18 balls and let Bobby keep the title. Over all, Engineers lack of bowling options resulted in keeping Nagoya under check. Having had Nagoya at 141/8, Engineers let them out of the cage and then lacked the discipline in batting.

As for Nagoya, it was a tremendous effort to score 255/9 from that stage. It is also commendable that the Nagoya boys tried to counter attack the Engineers when Nissar was going berserk. Although their ploy misfired, it displayed their tough and competitive mindset.

Brief scores: Nagoya 255/9. Shafiq 43, Hasim Khan 46, N Ahmed 5/34 IECC 103. S Ahmed 3/19, Ahmed Gul 3/18.

Engineers roll over the Kytes

Old hat spearheads the chase

By Silvester Pereira

     Another beautiful weather ensured a full day’s play for the Engineers playing their first KCL match. Kyte’s skipper Sharpe won the toss on their home turf an elected to bat – BTW, Engineer’s mantra this year is chasing. Lalith and Ryan opened the innings for the Kytes while Ritesh and Anurag opened the bowling for the Engineers. The Kytes lost their first wicket when first change Sangan clean bowled Lalit for 4 with the score reading XXX-1. One down Harvey didn’t last long, trying a big hit and was caught beautifully at deep mid wicket by Raju off the bowling of Vimal for 5 with score reading XXX-2 in YYY overs. In walked the skipper looking as confident as ever and decided to stabilize the innings. He played very sensibly in the first few overs, taking singles and building a good partnership with Ryan, who on the other end provided good support to his captain. With score reading 1XX- X, Anurag produced a superb delivery tempting Sharpe on the front foot who was unable to make bat on ball and loosing his stumps. It was an important wicket as Sharpe had been going for the kill knocking off fours and even sixes all over the place. At the end of 25 overs, the Kytes had gradually built up their innings.

     Maber and Tomilson carried on from where Sharpe left, taking singles, smacking loose balls to the boundary and put up a good partnership to take Kytes to a respectable score of 197 all out. Through out the innings, the fielding by the Engineers was very good except for some bowling which we gave many extras and at the same time had 7 Kytes batsmen bowled.and two run-outs. Given the strength of the engineers, 197 runs is an achievable target on this ground. During the break, Sanjeeb had a hard time working with the batting order before he zeroed in on Vimal and Vishwa to open the innings. Opening the bowling Sharpe, known for his sharp, accurate bowling did his best to find the breakthrough. However Vimal and Vishwa batted very sensibly, taking singles, smacking lose balls all over the fence and a good understanding in running between the wickets. The first runs on the board was a beautiful six at square leg by Vishwa on a delivery which was up and rising. The pair put on a good first wicket partnership of 5XX before Vimal, Ritesh joined in and along with Vishwa, the two batsmen went on the attack producing a match winning partnership of YYY. Vishwa showed off his experience, hitting all bowlers Shizuoka had on hand and frustrating the opponents with every boundary. Ritesh provided excellent support, scoring runs at every opportunity, had a life when he was dropped by Sharpe in the same over by Tomlin, mis-timed and gave another catch to Sharpe, at cover who made no mistake this time.

     Bobby, who joined Vishwa, chipped in 12 runs before being bowled by Steward. Vishwa, on the other hand kept on going and it appeared, as if, he would last until the final run is scored. However, an excellent catch at first slip by Ryan of the bowling of Suresh brought an end to a beautiful innings of 82 scored by our “very young at heart”, dependable and master craftsman Vishwa. Sanjeeb and Nissar played out the remaining runs to a well deserved victory for the engineers, who were never in trouble, always on top, confidant looking boosted with a fresh blood of all-rounders. This team has potential if we can be consistent to produce the same level of cricket in the upcoming games.

Brief scores: S Kytes 197 (40 ov). M Sharpe 45 IECC 198/4 (28 ov).  V Ghosh 82

Wombats give the Engineers a good work out

Engineers crumble…. again

By Jagan Panda

     It was raining steadily by the time we got to the Kanetsu expressway and were getting prepared for a U-turn, but for the assurance of local expert Zaheer that it is all clear and sunny in Gunma we kept heading for the ground. Indeed the weather cleared up beaconing a good day of cricket.Sanjeeb won the toss and relying on the recent record of the Engineers chasing good scores after putting the opposition in, chose to do the same – asking the depleted Wombats to bat (Ritesh, it’s not just you). Ajey and Anurag opened the bowling and their disciplined bowling saw the Wombats crawling to 26 after 10 overs. The opening bowlers beat the bat quite often but somehow the breakthrough didn’t happen.

     The Wombats openers managed to just hang in there accumulating dot balls. The first change bowler Jagan started with a disastrous over as the wides keep flowing down the leg. The epic over lasted for 18 balls (is that an IECC record?) with the 8th ball bowled being the first legal delivery. Sanjeeb replaced Anurag and brought sanity to the proceedings. The captain’s faith in Jagan paid off as he got rid of Wombats opener Jones. This breakthrough brought a flurry of wickets as Wombats slumped to 56/4. At the half-way mark, Wombats were 64/4 and there wasn’t a single boundary scored. The favourable position allowed the captain to bring some more bowling changes and Santosh was called up to his own surprise. Suddenly Dawson broke the shackles with few boundaries off Santosh. Soon Ajey was brought back and produced immediate results. He got through opener Mortimer’s expansive drive. The 5th wicket partnership brought Wombats back into the game.

     After that wickets kept falling and Wombats were all out for 156. Opener Mortimer did well to held one end for 30 overs and Dawson helped himself to a brisk half-century. After successfully chasing 266 in the previous match 157 seemed a reasonable target but the ground conditions were very different and some big hitters were missing too . Sylvester and Amol opened the inning for the Engineers and Wombats opted for the pace/spin combination. On the very second ball Sylvester played on a yorker. First down batsmen Santosh and Amol hung in for sometime until Santosh hesitantly pushed a flighted one into the hands of short covers. Amol’s resistance ended when he nicked one behind. After 10 overs the Engineers were 30/3 with steady Sanjeeb and swashbuckling Bobby at the crease. Lots of hope left… or so we thought. The weather after holding up well so far, gave up to strong winds and thunderstorm. Everybody took a forced break in their cars. The weather cleared up a while later and play resumed. But Booby came back soon, praising how good the ball was, as he edged a rising delivery behind.

     At 33/4, Engineers were desperately looking for partnership to stay in the game. New batsman Anurag and Sanjeeb just did that. Sanjeeb got boundaries going over the top few times and Anurag kept accumulating steadily. At the time of drinks after 25th over, Engineers needed 67 in 15 overs with 6 wickets in hand. Soon after the drinks, Anurag was bowled missing a straight one. The partnership was worth 64 runs and gave Engineers a chance. Sanjeeb left soon trying to hit a full toss out of the ground but found the man at deep midwicket. Bikash, Jagan and Ajey gave some hope but failed in reaching the target. Engineers were finally all out for 136 when last man Zaheer was bowled, falling short by 20 runs. With 4 overs left, the outcome could have been different had the Engineers batted till the end. None other than Sanjeeb and Anurag, managed to get to double figures.

     Overall, it was a good game with fluctuating fortunes. With KCL games lined up from now, the Engineers should be looking forward to bowling performances (of course, sans few things) like this.

Brief scores: Wombats 156(38 ov). R Dawson 50, J Panda 4/35, S Sahoo 3/19 IECC 136 (35 ov). S Sahoo 35.

Nagoya boys no match for the Engineers

Engineers prove to be good chasers!

By Ritesh Kakar

     Fantastic summer’s day as we trooped off to Shizoka. Shizoka looked pretty, small ground laid with lush green grass cut to fine length by the venerable, grand old man with a synthetic turf pitch in the middle. The cars parked in shade which looked to be a ball magnet (Bobby was a bit nervous and did everything to hide his car). Our very own Biju won the toss (again) and had to do some hard convincing act to impress upon the team for the need to field first and how it will benefit the team in the upcoming KCL. Captain had his way and asked the Nagoya boys to bat first (not sure why he elects to field every time when I am around).

     Engineers got the first break through when the score was at 11 with me dismantling the stumps of AJ stewart with a seaming in cutter. Things were steady after that as the batters chose not to touch the bouncing ball, whenever they did, it got the edge and went in for runs with couple of possible chances missed in the slips (“one was a bit too high and the other one was a way too low”, said Santosh). Bowling chang worked and Mahesh got us the wicket of steady looking Kiyani, the opener, found the gloves of bobby, the keeper, while trying to sweep Mahesh (work on your pace dude). On the other end Nissar kept the pace going and got 2 vital wickets with catches going to Biju and Viswa(a fine running catch). Sanjeeb also chipped in as he cleaned the Nagoya’s captain. Nissar also made Lalit’s off stumps fly in air. If everything looked bowler friendly, you might wonder where all the runs came from. Well, it was essentially a team effort in conceding the extras (scored 70 odd) with byes going away for 4’s (uneven bounce, strayed line). But credit must be given to Hussain (nick named Gavasker by me) who scored 71 in 4s and 6s with Nagoya scoring 110 in the last 9 overs. A few words exchanged as well among the Engineers in panic. (disciplinary committee might want to have a look). Nagoya were at 155 after 31 overs when the 5th wicket fell and the Engineers were expecting a total of 190 or thereabout after 40 overs.

     The 6th wicket fell at 167 in the 33rd over and things were ok until that point. But what happened after that was mayhem. Hussain, the new batsman, who claimed he was playing real cricket after a small gap of 17 years, hit the ball all around the park and in no time reached 50. By the time the last ball was bowled, he was 71 not out and and the Engineers were left with a total of 265 to score. Did the captain’s plans go awry? Goshhhhh! what about the buttery hands? We dropped 8 catches and helped some to even go for six. Jagan, Ritesh (“yaar hawa bahut tez hai”), Viswa, Santosh (“ek upar tha aur ek neechey”), Bobby (“it’s mine”) and Biju topped the list. Jagan took two well judged catches only find that he was out side the rope when took them. So, with the target set to 266 in 40 overs the Engineers were somewhat happy as they were sensing some batting practice for everybody(part of captain’s plan?). Nissar and promising new comer and Amol went out to chase but Amol didn’t live up to the expectation of his captain, perishing to the very first ball of the innings(c&b off Aatish), giving the Engineers a disastrous start.  Disastrous or over cautious starts, middle order collapse, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, making innocuous bowling look extremely dangerous – the Engineers are not new to these situations. In walked Bobby, who had a rough patch only last year when he was the captain (pressure of captaincy?). His partnership with Nissar for the 2nd wicket (effectively the opening partnership) lasted for 18 overs yielding 136 runs mostly dominated by Nissar with thumping lofted drives, meanest cuts and some of the bloodiest pulls.

     Nissar scored his 50 off 36 deliveries. Bobby (34 off 45 balls) hung in well and produced some over the top on the on side strokes but got ambitious and found his stumps disturbed. Vice captain Sanjeeb joined the party and looked “Azhar” to me as he produced some wristy boundaries but fell in just after their partnership crossed the 50 mark. Sanjeeb scored a quickfire 22 off 16 balls. He was caught and bowled by Afridi but there was nothing to worry as Viswa and company were still there. With still 80 odd to get I went in next and held the ground with Nissar who was in the 90s at that time. He completed his century with an on drive for a single and was appreciated by everybody including the opponents. His century came off only 75 balls. Our partnership (75 odd) had taken us to a stroke away from victory and I asked Nissar to score the winning runs and gave him strike with only 2 to get in 5 overs. To everybody’s surprise, he tried an ambitious pull to Aksar with the ball keeping low marking the end of an innings to remember. He ended up with 124(10×4, 6×6). New (old) man Viswa walked in with only 2 runs to get but gave simple return catch to the bowler, who dived to his front, in the 2nd ball he faced. Comical scenes followed in the dressing room. With victory all but assured everyone had started changing to the their own normal clothes some still in undies and no one was prepared to go out next.

      All of a sudden there is commotion and uncertainty as to who will go next, Santosh offering to go without any protection and in slippers but the one who went out was Silvester, who, half way through to the wicket remembered he had forgotten to protect his most important person. In the end Silvester guided the ball he faced to gully for the required 2 runs. Over all it was the good batting that won us the match (in desperate need of a fielding coach) led by the hostile Nissar. Nagoya will strike back with more venom as half of their bowling battery wasn’t there and the Engineers will try to hold the ground in the next encounter (KCL match). On the way back, Bobby bettered his own record of 2 hours to Shizuoka in the morning by 30 minutes and drove us back (safely, that is!) in 1.5 hours flat, thanks to the unusually near empty Tomei.

Brief scores: Nagoya 265/8. Tariq 64, Hussain 71, N Ahmed 3/56 IECC 266/5 (35.4 ov). N Ahmed 126, B Philips 34, R Kakar 39*

Myoden makes light of a competitive target

Engineers struggle to make an eleven

By Sanjeeb Sahoo

It was a windy day at Edogawa and there was some doubt whether the ground will be in a condition to play. The surrounding area of the pitch was indeed wet and the Engineers has to justify their name by doing some innovative repairing work with the help of Myoden. By the time the writer reached the ground the match had already started. Fortunately the Engineers had won the toss and had decided to bat. Had we lost the toss it would have been difficult to set the fielding, with only 9 Engineers at the ground. Batting Make-shift openers Nissar and Jude set out to open the innings in the absence of the regulars. Vinod and Rahul opened the bowling for Myoden. Their precise line and the gutsy wind prevented us from cutting loose. Even dangerous looking Nissar, was having trouble hitting the ball out of the ground. Jude and Nissar did the sensible thing of trying to play according to the merit and kept rotating the strike. The first wicket fell at the 12th over, the score reading 58 at that time. Nissar played over an in swinging yorker from Vezly and got bowled.

     The openers have once again provided a great lunch pad as we have seen is all the matches this season. Ajay was given a chance to bat up the order but was unlucky to get out of the first ball. It was a bad ball going down the leg and Ajey played the right shot of flicking it only to find the ball landing in the hands of the backward square leg. The catch that was taken by Sanman was superb. Ajey could not believe his bad luck considering that Sanman had dropped simpler catches earlier at least on two occasions. Bikash was next and batted for few overs before getting out LBW trying his favorite leg glance. How many times I have to tell the umpires that there is no LBW in a friendly matches. We try to be honest but dose the opposition return the favor? We should remove LBW from the friendly matches. Sanjeeb went in and started cautiously following his “10 balls first” rule. Jude on the other had seen enough balls and decided to become more aggressive and hit several good shots that reached the boundary. After being asked to step up the rate, he charged the bowler, Kedar, trying to put a flighted delivery into the river. Selfless display Jude! You will get your 50 next time.

     Anurag walked in next. Sanjeeb and Anurag had a good partnership and the projected score was looking to cross 200 at that time. But Anurag got ran himself out trying to a take a quick second run. Biju joined. Sanjeeb started going for the big hits seeing that not many wickets left and hit some spectacular shots to impress his wife , who had kindly come to cheer him up. Biju also joined the action and hit some good shots , one of them being a cover drive that Sanjeeb is still trying to learn. After Biju was out Amol came in but was given LBW out by Nissar. He was bit unlucky as the bowler did not appeal at all. Sandeep came in started swinging the willow like Bhim and went back after playing and missing a few deliveries. Last man Shailesh came in and ran himself out backing up too far. By that time Sanjeeb had reached his 50. Engineers 164. Fielding Biju and Ajey started the bowling. They were bowling well and was able to generate bounce from the wicket which troubled both Myoden openers Sanman and Vezly. Sanman was hit on his shoulders and deliveries went past his nose, all by Biju.

     A nervous looking Sanman was finally clean bowled by Ajey, going for a big drive, when the score was reading 27. Big hitting Vezly also got out cheaply trying to drive a super fast Nissar delivery; Bikash managed to hold on to a sharp catch behind the stumps. Myoden was in trouble , score reading 4/58. But Kedar(31) and Sagar(39) put up an 87 run partnership to bail them out and possibly put the game beyond the Engineers. Skipper changed bowlers, in vein, in the hope of breaking the partnership but nothing seemed to work. Kedar started like a Test batsmen but grew in confidence and played some brilliant strokes. Once the partnership was broken in 28th over by Nissar by clean bowling Kedar, Engineers sensed a chance and tried various things. Skipper brought himself back in, which produced immediate results when Rahul who had just arrived was clean bowled by a yorker. However, Sagar held one end and saw them through.This match has again underlined the Engineers poor bowling strength. Last minute drop out by two players didn’t help them either.

     None of the bowlers were particularly impressive except the young Anurag. Engineers were missing their star bowler Ritesh’s absence at all the time. Bikash did a descent job behind the wicket trying to fill in for their missing keeper Bobby. Also lot of work need to be done in the fielding arena. Hopefully Practice manager Jude will look into these in near future. Nevertheless this was a great day of Cricket at the bank of Edogawa.

Brief scores: IECC 164 (33 ov). J Joseph 36, S Sahoo 51*, Vezley 4/28 Myoden 167/7 (32 ov). S Kamble 39

Dragons blown away

Bowlers have a field day

By Partha Sarathi

    The Engineers continued their winning note in the second match of the season. It was yet another friendly match against Dragons. Although the match was supposed to start at 9:30 am in the morning and the Engineers were asked to reach the ground at 9 am “sharp” by the new President and Captain (2 in 10 Biju Paul). But it was delayed as the captain himself arrived after 10 though the rest of the team already had arrived and had warm up sessions. Blame it on the navigator!!Biju won the toss, second time in a row in this season. After deciding to test the bowling skills of his new team in the previous game, skipper decided to test his batsmen this time and elected to bat first. The scarcity of good batsmen in the enemy camp probably influenced the decision. Vimal, who scored a half century in the last game opened the inning with Partha, two batsmen the skipper himself earmarked as the regular openers this season. Ashish and Vaibhav opened the bowling attack for Dragons.

     The ball moved a little in the beginning and both the batsmen played through the opening spells carefully and concentrated mostly on singles and doubles. While the opening partnership kept flourishing on the field, there were plenty of fun going outside with Santosh and Sangan playing a major part in that. Recent failure of the Indian cricket team in WC and the controversy of too much endorsement and of course “the attitude of the senior players towards the team” were the main topics. In the mean time, Dragons skipper Chaman brought Sandeep was brought into attack, replacing a luckless Ashish. The very first ball from Sandeep found the keeper’s forehead and a subsequent hospital visit caused 14 stitches on his forehead. Thank you Anurag for taking up the translator’s job in the hospital. After couple of unsuccessful overs Sandeep resorted to a clever way of producing the first break through. He removed the bails off at the non-striker end while running to bowl seeing Partha already out of the crease thus making Partha part of the  cricket history after the South African Kepler Wessels, who was given out in the same fashion. This ended the 48 run opening partnership and brought Bobby out in the middle joining Vimal. Bobby was in no mood to give Dragons any opportunity to tighten the pressure. His cuts, pulls, aggressive running, kept Dragon at bay and hit a huge six to the delight of the Engineers(obviously!), when the run rate was not up to the mark.

     Having a tough time to dislodge the settled Vimal and a free hitting Bobby, Sandeep again played the same trick to get Bobby out. At this moment, things were not friendly anymore, due to constant sledging from some player from Dragon and the dirty tricks played by Dragon bowler to get rid of the batsmen. The  Engineers captain had to rush into the field to handle the situation and to control an “emotional” Bobby. After a lot of discussion and arguments, Bobby was given out and the fine, entertaining inning of 31 runs from 26 deliveries came to an abrupt end (later reference to experts reveled that the Partha’s dismissal should have been called no-ball while Bobby’s a dead ball) . The partnership was a huge 88 runs. Soon after, Vimal completed his second half century. Rest of the batsmen also added some valuable runs to help the scoreboard reading 192/6 in 30 overs. New comer but old hand Sandeep Casi showed some glimpses of his talent but by that time the allotted overs had come to an end.

     Dragons needed 193 to win in 30 overs which needed a solid opening partnership. But Sangan and Biju, opening the bowling, didn’t have any intention to keep Dragons’ hope alive. They bowled in a tight line and produced early break-throughs. Ashish perished in the second over going for a booming drive off Sangan succeeding only in letting the ball go between his bat and pad to rearrange woodwork. One down Vaibhav then cover drove Biju almost giving a diving Santosh a chance (lack of diving practice!). Vaibhav then flicked the next delivery into hands of Anil at square leg, who could not really hold on to it. But his luck ran out in the third delivery when he was held out in the point by Nissar, giving some respite to the exasperated bowler. Nissar and Ajey then replaced Biju and Sangan which produced immediate results. Nissar’s 3 overs brought 3 wickets, including a hat trick chance while conceding only 5 runs. His bowling figures read 3-0-5-3. The wicket of Sandeep, who could have given the Engineers some hard time, for a duck, caught magnificently by Bobby behind the wicket when the batsmen went for a cut deserves special mention. That reiterated a wide spread belief in the Engineers camp that there no competition for Bobby behind the wicket.

     The Dragons were 5 down before the score board accumulated 50. That gave the skipper an opportunity of testing all his armory when it was certain that the Engineers will walk away with the match. All the bowlers got some bowling practice as they were given a quota of two overs each. Dragons reached hundred due to some good batting performance from Chaman who remained not out on 48 while his team collapsed around him. Over all, it was a good outing and both the teams gained some valuable match practice.

Brief scores: IECC 192/6 (30 ov). V Vikrant 52, B Philips 31 Dragons 121 (20 ov). C Jagadeesh 48*, N Ahamed 3/5

 

Engineers kick-start the season with powerful batting display

Season starts on a winning note

By Vimal Vikrant

     It is not in the memory of this author that the Engineers have managed to start off the season on a winning note anytime earlier. Also not in the recent memory is a good, solid opening partnership that the Engineers managed this tiime. But it happened, this year. 2007. All fools day, but I fool you not. The match almost did not happen. First there was the weather, with rains on Saturday. And then there was the small problem of not having a XI. Some last minute phone calls and both issues were sorted out. But then there was the Tomei traffic doing its bit to slow the Engineers on their way. A diversion, some highway help, some car navigator confusions, some wrong turns later the engineers finally reached the Shizuoka greens to see that it was pretty close to noon. The captains decided to go ahead with a 35 overs a side match. The Engineers’ back-as-captain president Biju Paul won the toss and decided to field, partly to use whatever little help was available from the conditions and mainly to give bowling and fielding practice to his boys, who had little or no net or match practice this season. Of course, given the number of bowling options available on the day, it was, at least in theory, a good decision. Ritesh opened the bowling and struck in the first over with his second legal delivery, a peach of an off cutter that spread the opening bat’s stumps.

      The captain started from the other end and after a few looseners sent one a little wider, a little fuller and Arbab could not resist having a go at it. The slash went straight and fast to Ajey stationed at point who took a nice, low catch in front. 2 down in the second over but better was to come as Ritesh managed one more act of “spread the stumps” in his next over. 3/12 and the engineers were already dreaming of a quick finish. But next in was the the old war horse Sharpey. And what followed was a long 132 run partnership with Angus. Both endured some moments of uncertainty, some variable bounce and some bowling of varied pace and style. But they stuck it out, punishing the bad balls, keeping out the good ones and were helped just a little bit by the rusty Engineers’ fielding which let a few catches go down. Anurag bowled with good pace and had both batsmen (and the keeper too) in trouble time and again with his searing yorkers, but was unlucky not to get any wickets in his kitty.

     The drinks interval came and went and the batsmen started opening their shoulders and heaving a few shots all around the wicket. But finally, your truly managed to get the breakthrough, as Sharpey top edged one, while going for a pull and Ajey again took a very nicely judged catch at square leg.  Some wickets fell towards the end of the innings as is to be expected, but not before Nick “the cannon” Shannon blasted a few out of the park, Ajey mostly being the “cannon fodder”. Ritesh ended up with 3 wickets. Sanjeeb pulled off a couple of very fine outfield catches, leaving some of the Engineers’ new comers wondering how he was doing it, given that last season he hardly seemed to have held any. Anyway, the innings did finish off with one of those catches, Sanjeeb running in about 20 yards from long off and picking off a fine catch, which took out Nick (quickfire 39 of 20 balls) with the last ball of the innings. The Kytes finished up with 217 off 35 overs. Given the start and of the match and then again, the fall of Sharpey at 144 and Angus at 163 the total was still a reasonable bit more than what the Engineers liked. Anyway, the runs were on the board and they had to be chased down. A quick changeover of about 15 minutes and yours truly and Partha were back in the middle with bat in hand. The Kytes bowling was steady, but even the usually threatening Sharpey was slightly off-pace.

     The ball did move around just a bit, but the openers managed to keep out the good stuff, and punished the bad stuff. Some fielding let-offs helped. Almost within no time the opening stand went past the half century mark. Both batsmen were looking comfortable in the middle when Harvey produced one of those quick jaffas that went thru Partha’s defences and knocked the stumps over. Ritesh walked in was troubled by Harvey’s pace. He got hit on the foot with a yorker and that seemed to unsettle him. He lashed out at one, after walking down the pitch and got a boundary. But he fell next ball, playing across to another full york-length delivery and was hit again low on the shoe. Sanjeeb walked in and things again seemed to be going the Engineers’ way when your truly patted back a ball back to Nick who could not believe his luck, yelling in glee “You ****-ing beauty” while accepting the catch. I headed for the hut, a reasonably comfortable 52, but it was just when I thought I could get a few more easy runs. Anurag joined Sanjeeb in the middle and there was another productive 51 run partnership. Anurag and Ajey fell in quick succession after the drinks break and it suddenly looked like it would be the all too familiar “so near yet so far” story, but Sanjeeb kept going. The score went past the 200 mark. A sudden rush of blood and Sanjeeb fell, bowled for 45, playing across to a Sharpey indipper and missing the line. But thankfully for the Engineers, Bikash and Biju then saw the team across the mark with some simple basic batting strategy, of running the singles and putting away the bad balls.

     In the end, it was a pretty nerveless batting display by the Engineers. They were of course helped to an extent by a well-below-par fielding performance by the Kytes. But all that matters is that the season has been kick started in an unheard of fashion for the Engineers. Hoping to see more such days in the field this season.

Brief scores: S Kytes 217/7 (35 ov). M Sharpe 73, A Liley 53, R Kakar 3/36 IECC 217/6/6 (30 ov). V Vikrant 52, S Sahoo 43.