Engineers lose Pacific Cup

End of a disastrous season

 By Vimal Vikrant

    The Engineers crowned their disastrous season with the loss of their brainchild, Pacific Cup, an annual series between their friendliest rivals, the Shizuoka Kytes and the British Embassy along with a guest team. The guests this year Tokyo Wombats after they retained their spot in the series last year due to weather and other reason. However, by virtue of winning the title, they have invited themselves again into the series next year. Well done Wombats!Given the relative form of the teams, the Engineers were definitely up against it. And the news in the morning was hardly encouraging with a couple of players dropping out. One replacement was found, but that still left the Engineers one man short. Ol’ Cap’n Bobby won the toss and elected to bat. Maybe not the best of decisions in retrospect, but then, one lives and learns. A wet outfield greeted the teams though it was nice to see a sprinkling of greenery on the outfield, quite unlike the usual sight that greets us at the Ageo grounds.

     Yours truly opened the batting with Ramakrishnan and the progress was slow, hardly steady and at times maybe a bit painful to watch. The ball was skidding off the pitch and the batsmen were hardly able to time their shots. The uneven bounce on a freshly laid out flicx pitch on a wet ground (sorry for the offcolour connotations:) contributed to the difficult goings on. But the opening partnership was 50 odd before Ramki dragged one innocuous looking delivery onto his stumps. Chaman walked in a started throwing his bat around almost from the word go. He was connectting a few too and looking good with every ball. Your truly continued living a charmed life with chances being put down left, right and centre but finally managed to make a mess of it by playing all over one that maybe kept a touch low and the ball crashed into the stumps. Terribly out of form Sanjeeb walked in at his usual batting number hoping for a turn around but and out as was the situation with him more often than not this season, falling LBW again to one that skidded throug straight.

     Second consecutive LBW but this time it wasn’t a golden duck! Raju walked in this situation that was not exactly tailor made for a pinch-hitter. To be fair though, he stuck it out, playing an almost uncharacteristic knock, knuckling down and playing as straight as possible down the ground. Chaman made a hash of things that were going well at this point and playing all over one to see his woodwork disturbed. Next man Sangan immediately seemed to find the pace of the pitch as well as the pacers to his liking. He started tonking the ball all around, intelligently using the pace when the bowlers pitched it short and playing straight when it was pitched up. There were quite a few well run singles as well. Raju fell trying to accelerate, again bowled. Bobby and Sangan went for a while rotating the strike well, but Bobby fell, missing the line. Sangan fell to a slower one, guess what, bowled. Jude and Praveen had a useful last wicket partnership and Praveen connected a couple but Jude fell at the other end to a premeditated shot to a slower ball. The innings closed at 161. Not a bad score, given the supposedly uneven nature of the pitch and the 3 bat strength of the Wombats. However, what the Engineers didn’t bargain for is what the Wombats call “ring-ins”.

     In hindsight, Aamir Ali would have saved the day for Engineers as he was available to play! Ring-in Gavin Beath and Ian Gason opened the batting for the Wombats. But the new ball attack has been a bit of a problem for the Engineers this year. Sangan and Biju took up the responsibility this time around, but there was nothing special, either in the air of off the pitch. Suddenly the pitch seemed to have become a batting beauty. Sangan kept things relatively quiet, but Biju went for a couple of big hits when pitching it short. The bowling changes were brought in thick and fast the ball kept disappearing with similar speed. Raju though, seemed to have some sort of control on the ball and kept the batsmen honest. Bobby tried Praveen to try to take the pace off the ball and it paid immediate dividends when Ian Gason skied one to fine leg where Sangan took a nice running catch.

     Almost immediately Sanjeeb got another one and again Sango was the one who held onto another skier of Beath. The Engineers felt a sniff of a chance but the score was already nearing a 100. There were a few steady overs and Sanjeeb got the ball to do a bit. Yours truly came back after the initial hammering and this time found a better line and got 2 wickets in the same over and suddenly the Wombats were 6 down and the noisy pavilion went quite. What seemed to be a walk in the park suddenly looked like a mountain to climb. But Wombats played sensibly from then on.  Too few to defend it the end, especially after the big opening partnership at a decent clip for the Wombats. Probably that was the biggest difference. The engineers were definitely 30-40 runs short and they ended the season as they began it, with a loss. Here’s hoping for a better season next year, with a steadier team and better contributions from everybody. Farewell, 2006 and bring on the 2007! Merry Christmas and a Happy new year.

Brief scores: IECC 161(37.3 ov). C Jagadeesh 31, Dawson 4/39 T Wombtats 162/6 (28 ov). G Beath 46, S Sahoo 3/36.