..and post their first win of the season
By Parthasarathy Misra
The Indian Engineers, as far as I heard, had been doing very well in the last season. A collection of competent players, will to improve and never-say-die attitude had earned good reputation for the team and had set a standard. But, this year, 2006, has something else in store for the team. Something they probably were not very much acquainted with. Seven losses in a row since the season has begun indicated something is not in place.
Lack of practice, unavailability of the regular players, failure of big guns in need, inability of young players to take the pressure and defeat after defeat had lowered the team’s moral and confidence. All they needed was a big victory. At last the day came. 30th July, 2006. The team traveled 180 km south to Shzuoka, to play against the Shizuoka Kytes 2nd Eleven. The two teams have a long history of friendship between them and the Engineers always enjoyed playing the Kytes. They get along very well, like old friends and play competitive cricket, even the old man chipping in with his bit of cricket. When we arrived, the ground looked in a very good condition, with freshly cut grass around a 30 yard circle. A smooth outfield indicated the ball will roll faster. Players of both teams joined hands to put the mat out and made necessary arrangements for the match to start. Engineers captain Bobby won the toss and elected to bat first. Winning toss has become his breakfast nowadays. The openers played very carefully and denied any early break through for Kytes. Tomlinson bowled couple of very good overs and produced some chances, but the keeper and the slip cordon couldn’t give enough support to him to do justice to his bowling. At last, in the 9th over Partha parted trying to play a pull shot against Lalith Prelis, the score reading 65 runs, the best opening partnership of the Engineers this season. Ritesh replaced Partha and started displaying his armory. He drove and cut Sharpy with ease despite Sharpy’s pace and swing.
The team was ecstatic to see his array of shots. Bikash was jubilant and was very quick to admire his shots. His comment on an off drive from Ritesh, sent the team rolling on the floor laughing, when he uttered “classic cover drive” to himself, where as the ball went to long-off boundary. Finally, Ritesh got out trying to defend Sharpy delivery, against the flow of his game. He had scored a quick fire 30 off 21 balls and set the pace for the things to come. Sriram, joined Vimal in the middle. At this moment Kytes captain Prelis introduced RGM in the attack to add some variety into his bowling lineup. Everybody was surprised and particularly Biju, seeing his old buddy taking the ball and giving it air and loop. Sriram facing RGM… “It is going to rain sixes..” was the comment heard in the pavilion. Apparently, Sriram overheard it and tried to live up to the expectation by dancing down to RGM only to see that the old man deceived him in the air and the ‘keeper did the rest. This dismissal probably denied the KCL a record of 400+ runs and the Kytes might have heaved a sigh of relief. This brought in Nissar into the crease. Vimal started unwinding his range of shots and was scoring with ease. He started reaching the rope every now and then with his elegant cuts, drives and pulls. Nissar gave him very good support. They put on 60 runs on the board before Nissar was bowled by the one and only Nick Shannon.
This gave skipper Bobby an opportunity to come out and join Vimal and show his much vaunted batting skills. Bobby played the first ball carefully but was adjudged LBW the next ball. Apparently disappointed, captain raised his bat, indicating that the ball took the edge before hitting his pad. But, the finger was already raised without paying attention to his claims. He looked at the umpire in amazement for a minute and started walking towards the pavilion shaking his head and shoulders and murmuring something (can not be mentioned). Bikash was also given LBW in the same over. Quite an eventful over and the Kytes were restring the Engineers going berserk. Jagan joined Vimal after this dramatic over. Jagan also didn’t last long. He was caught by Sharpy at the boundary of Prelis. Sangan joined Vimal. This pair produced the best partnership of the match with 81 runs added in just 10 overs. Vimal completed this maiden century during this partnership, and received applause from his teammates as well as from his opponents. They started hitting the ball harder in the slog overs and helped a healthy partnership of 81 runs. Sangan finally fell to Sharpy having 32 runs against his name in just 21 balls. Biju joined Vimal for last few overs. Vimal completed his 150 and hit a four on the last ball of the inning helping the team total to 327. He remained not out at 154. “It is a defendable score”, said Biju.
As usual, the match against the Kytes is incomplete without a generous lunch provided by Kytes, a time honoured tradition of the Kytes. Lots of bread, bananas, apples and oranges served for lunch. Wow! The target for Kytes was 327 in 40 overs, which gave some of the Engineers a hope that the captain will call them in for bowling. Skipper Bobby was very much confident about the much desired victory. He made it clear to his team that he would like to win the match in style. Bikash wanted to wrap up the match before 5 pm so that he could beat the notorious Tomei traffic. Bobby, gave the new ball to Nissar. Sharpy and Liley opened for Kytes. Sharpy made his intentions clear by going for big hits right from the beginning. Liley gave him good support by rotating the strike. Nissar and Vimal bowled well initially but went wicketless. Bobby then introduced Ritesh and Jagan. Jagan obliged his captain’s trust upon him producing the first break through. Liley was given LBW. Tomlinsion joined Sharpy to take the attack to the enemy camp. They started hitting the ball everywhere and Sharpy was more aggressive. But, a stunning catch by Jagan of Sangan sealed Tomlinson’s inning. Biju was brought into attack and he took the most valuable wicket of Sharpy. He was caught at the long off boundary by Sangan on 51. He played a very good and aggressive inning. His dismissal effectively ended any hope for Kytes for a successful chase. Kytes inning was wrapped up quickly thereafter. Bobby, Partha, Vimal, Nissar and Vinod claimed one wicket each. Their inning wrapped up at 130.
I just looked at the clock tower when the last wicket fell. It was one minute to 5 pm and I thought myself, everything went right, even the timing!! Does it indicate the losing days are gone??!! There were couple of things that should be noted. We batted very well; bowling and fielding were also good. But, we bowled too many wides again. But this time we won and so some facts are overlooked. There is ample space for improvement in bowling and fielding. After the match, Engineers and Kytes went for a small post match drinking. Kytes had arranged plenty of beer and food for everybody. Players from both the teams shared their best moments and highlights. I am personally thankful to Bobby, not listening to the public demand for skipping the gathering and going home. Only a minority wanted to go drinking but things don’t always go democratic :-).
Everybody told their match highlight and Bobby’s dismissal was on the most popular topic in the post match discussion. It was a great day, playing with old friends, small things in the field that added spices to the match, a very scenic place, well maintained ground and warmth of friendship with Kytes and of course for a change the feeling being in the winning side made my day!!
Brief scores: IECC 327/8. V Vikrant 154*, R Kakar 30, S Kalgi 32 Kytes 130(22.3 ov). M Sharpe 51. Scorecard