Engineers keep their semi-final hopes alive | Scorecard (August 21, 2005)

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 theĀ  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