Pacific Cup Series tied at 1-1

Sick man helps Engineers to square the Pacific Cup series

Series tied at 1-1. Final to be played on Nov. 26

By Biju Paul

A sedate start from the Engineers did not deter them from amassing 167 runs off the allotted 30 overs, thanks to some lusty hitting by Balu, who was ordered out of his sick bed at 11 p.m. of the night before the match by the one and only Rajkumar. At 10 p.m., the night before the match when Prasad pulled himself out of the squad owing to his eye check up, yours truly had no one to turn to but Raj. And Raj never disappoints anyone, particularly when it comes to cricket. He called up Balu, who was originally not in the squad, and asked him to come to play. Balu had no option but to obey! It all started with this writer winning the toss and promptly electing to bat first on a beautiful autumn day. In fact, the Kytes were happy when they found out that Sriram was not playing. Under clear instructions, the openers started extra cautiously thereby preserving their wickets until the end of 10 overs but scoring only 20 runs. Clearly, the intention was to see off the opening bowlers, especially Todd Phillips who bamboozled us in the last encounter, which was the Kanto Cup-cum-Pacific Cup match, and then take on the less troublesome support bowlers. Of the Kytes bowlers, Anton was the only one who could generate some pace out of the tricky pitch. But once Anton finished his quota of 6 overs in a single spell, there was no one who really troubled the Engineers. First change Harrison removed both the openers in his successive overs. Sunil was brilliantly caught and bowled diving forward. Sunil went for the drive of a full length delivery unmindful of the fact that the ball pitched on one of the soft spots. The pitch was such that the ball lost its speed after pitching on certain spots. In his next over, Harrison pitched one on the off stump. Raj promptly moved in position for a push on the onside but the ball didn’t bounce as much as he expected and missed it. It would have been a travesty of justice had this correspondent not, acting as the umpire, raised the index finger to an vociferous appeal. The smile on Harrison’s face said it all. He knew that he got Raj plumb. Engineers 42/2 in 13 overs. But that changed the whole situation. Two down Balu must have relished the day out more than lying down on his sick bed. He came. He saw the pitch. He saw the bowlers. He conquered. A swashbuckling innings of 43 off 25 balls(2 x 4, 4 x 6) was the result. Shankar came in at the fall of Balu’s wicket but the long interval of no cricket showed its impact on him. As he admitted it himself, he was struggling to come to terms with the bowling. Instructions were passed to the batsmen at the end of 20 overs to speed up but while trying to do that Shankar got out stumped off Raja Akthar by the grand daddy of Japan cricket. The young man at the age of 56 showed that he is upto his task and hasn’t lost any of his reflexes! That brought the debutant Sachin(Sondhi, not Tendulkar) to the crease. He lived upto his reputation as a league player in the U.S and came up with a little cameo innings of 43 with some elegantly timed boundaries on the on side. He IS going to be another class batsman on the side. The last 10 overs yielded 70 runs which was aided by Sachin and Vicky with useful seventh wicket partnership of 50+ runs. Sachin got out in the last ball of the innings attempting a second run, there by spoiling his average. When pointed it out him came the reply – no “gas” left at the end. Your correspondent, initially baffled, soon realised that it was an American term for fuel! The U.S may be the least polluting country in the world as everything there runs on gas! Lunch is the best part of the visit to Shizuoka. Robert must be getting up 4 at a.m. to prepare the curry for 24(two scorers included) “Hungry Tigers”. I wonder what his girlfriend has to say about it. Anton opened batting for Shizuoka in his usual characteristic style. Pulling anything short to the boundary. He always makes the opposition work hard for his wicket and this time was no different either. Fellow opener Harrison was run out attempting a non-existent second run in the seventh over. The end of 10 overs saw Kytes comfortably placed at 54/2 as opposed to the Engineers’ score of 20/0, very close to the required run rate. From there on, it was a neck-and-neck race as the Kytes kept up with the run rate. With the Kytes having the first match under their belt, the stakes were high for the Engineers as a loss meant the loss of the series. But the introduction of Shankar took care of the hard hitting captain, Anton, who could have wrested the game from us single handedly, caught by Rahul at cover off his very first delivery. Engineers’ secret weapon was unleashed next. The man with two great achievements under his belt. Vice captain Silvester Pereira. The man who successfully defended a paltry score of 47 runs to shoot out British Embassy for 38 runs, two years ago and then defeating a full fledged Pakistani side recently, which was virtually unimaginable until then(incidentally, the same Pakistani side is one of the finalists of the Kanto Cup this year). His “medium paced off-spin” brought him one wicket but his 4th over messed up his figures, having hit for 13 runs. As he later confessed, “I was trying to bowl a googly!”. Amit Chatterjee once said: “He is the fastest off spinner I’ve ever seen!”. Shankar and Silvi bowled in tandem trying to bring the run rate down but the Kytes were not to be tied down. At the end of 20 overs saw Kytes one run ahead of the Engineers’ score. In fact, the intensity of the neck-and-neck race can be gauged from the following table:

Over Engineers Kytes
10 20-0 54-2
20 97-4 98-5
25 121-5 128-5
30 167-6 147-7

However, Kytes didn’t have enough wickets left in the last 5 overs to score the required runs. And the Engineers won by 20 runs, setting the stage for the grand final of this exciting series on Nov. 26. Anton’s vote of thanks at the end of the day didn’t forget to mention the 10.5th member of the Kytes, the ?? year old little Arthur, who fielded very well saving a few valuable runs. The only man who had a nightmarish day out was the Engineers’ opening bowler Santosh, whose 1st over, 2nd of the innings, saw 8 wides but his second over saw only 1 of them and a no-ball. He ended up with the figures 2-0-13(9w, 1nb). And here goes the quote of the day: “But for the wides, I’ve got the best bowling figures”! He also wantd to take train back to Tokyo when he learnt that Sunil was going to be the driver for the return journey! This is one of the few matches where everyone had something to contribute to the victory. The openeres batted well to preserve their wickets. Middle order just whacked everything on their way. Bowlers bowled well. Fielding, usually sloppy, was excellent. Brief scores: IECC 167/6 (Balu K. 43, Sachin S. 43) Shizuoka Kytes 147/7 (Rahul 6-0-14-2)