Day/Night match at Koga, Ibaraki Pref.
By Sidde Raju
As this is the first match happening under lights, Engineers reached the new Koga ground at 3:00PM with strong winds still blowing from the previous night. The stadium ground looked excellent, full of grass except for the corner for the baseball pitching, had a gallery that can accommodate around 100 spectators, a dressing room each for both teams, flood lights available for nominal fees, which the Engineers made use of, having the match played from 3pm to 9pm. The Tigers arrived after prowling the city at 4:00PM, and quickly found the incompatibility between the mat and the ground soil. After some brainstorming sessions, our curator Dinesh took the lead in installing the pitch on new ground. Coin has been tossed after a delay of an hour, the Tiger’s leader called the wrong side of the coin, which leads to engineer’s openers to walk towards the pitch with bat. Cool headed Masood opened the innings with veteran opener Santosh. Things went good until Masood got out.
Dinesh walked in as a replacement, and the Engineer’s camp looked comfortable as the last years leading run scorer took the charge of rolling the score card. But soon he returned after an LBW decision. On the other side, Santosh keep ticking the score. The new man Kushal looked pretty comfortable, but soon got run out. Raju walked in as a replacement to him. By this time the score looked 56/5, a situation the Engineers are quite familiar with. The young blood and the new vice captain, Anurag Singh, walked in style, as the back ground voices echoed as “GUYS DON’T LET THE LAST YEAR’S KCL STITATION REPAT AGAIN”. They kept up their word, after a partnership of 30 runs Raju fell to an unintended yorker. By this time Anurag gave full thrust to the score card. The captain Sanjeeb joined him and made some valuable runs before returning back after a caught and bowled chance. Bikash replaced him in order to give some strong support to Anurag, as he is one of the stake holder in high score partnerships. This time the partnership didn’t go good. After few runs contribution, Anurag fell in the process of accelerating the score as the innings reaching the final phase. Engineers scored 133 runs in 24 overs in very unplayable conditions.
Knowing very well that any score above 120 will be difficult for the Tigers to chase Engineers took to field after a few minutes break in order to hunt down the 134 in 27 overs. Though the figures looks achievable, the path towards that looks not that easy at the end. The valuable weapon in our arsenal, with a perfect text book bowling action (Rajeesh) started the bowling attack, the very first one went like a rocket juts like on Koiwa pitch, which we haven’t seen in our day’s play until then. According to strategy, along with our veteran seam bowler Biju the pair has to put the Tigers on back foot. Biju got the break through when he had Tigers opener Anil caught in front of the wicket in the 2nd over. A lots of convincing shouts turned out against Rajeesh though. After encouraging new talented players with the bowl, the captain thought its time to bring in Anurag. The real down fall started when the ball came in to the hands of Dinesh. He cleaned up the Tiger’s middle order taking 4 wickets in 4 overs, one in each over. After Dinesh and Raju restricted the Tigers from scoring in a long stretch of 12 overs, the asking rate was too much for the Tigers and they folded up soon with Rajeesh, Anurag and Kushal cleaning up the rest of the list and recorded the first win of this season just before the lights gone off at 21:00hrs. Key Points: 1. Ground is great. Playing cricket under lights is amazing, thanks to all stake holders in this initiation.
A flicx pitch may make it more interesting. Return driving to Tokyo took just one hour. 2. Though the playing conditions in the first half are unplayable, the batsmen managed to score 133. Anurag and Santhosh contributions were impressive. 3. Bowling department: bowlers did good job in restricting the tigers. 4. Ground fielding is good, but we managed to miss few catches which my go costly in other situations. [As we all know this is a well known and well repeated statement :)]
Brief scores: IECC 133 (24 overs). S Ghadge 19 I Tigers: 104 (27 overs). D Singh 4/18