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.