By Atul Joshi A walkover handed out by Serendib for the KCL match in the previous week left the Engineers with no match practice before this tournament match.
Taking initiative to start a first ever tennis ball based T-20 tournament in Tokyo the Engineers could not afford to lose the first match of their own tournament. The response to roll call to form a team was lukewarm though, with only 7 players available until the day before the match but by Sunday night the Engineers were able to find an eleven. Phew..!! For the T-20 tournament, the Engineers renamed themselves IECC Maestros.
Late evening shower in Tokyo on the eve of the match had the newly laid pitch completely under water and the match looked doubtful. With the chance of play grim at the regular ground, IBS did manage to find a playing field on the extreme far side of the actual ground.Under the hot sun and a sticky humid weather, IBS won the toss and decided to bat first. In the absence of both the regular captain and vice-captain, the young and dynamic Anurag Singh led the Engineers. The IBS openers started cautiously against the opening attack of Biju and Karthik. With single and a occasional boundary the score was steady with an run rate of 8 after 4 hours. Anurag started making bowling changes with short spells which starting giving results as IBS lost 3 wickets for 13 runs before they reached 50. The fall of wickets brought the 2 of their best batsmen, Unni Krishnan and Paul Pauly, on the crease and they didn’t disappoint their captain, adding a 50+ partnership in 4 overs which included an over by Jagan Panda that conceded 26 runs. Both batsmen found the midwicket area very useful to score runs. With the score crossing the 100 mark in the 11 overs total of 200 was on the cards, but Abdul Satar had other ideas and came up with a excellent spell of fast and accurate bowling. Abdul took 3 wickets and was also involved in 2 great close catches which saw IBS collapse from 119/4 to 129 all out. Abdul was the standout performer for the Engineers equally well supported by Pavethy Nath who bowled a steady line and length. His consistency gave him a return of 6/12 in 4 overs. What at one point looked like would be a big chase for the Engineers was brought down to manageable one by these two bowlers aided equally by the fielders and a fair bit of intelligent captaincy. A lot of singles were denied by sharp fielding and good catches in the outfield. Paul Pauly was the star batsman for the IBS with 47 runs with a strike rate of more than 100%. He was quick to latch on to anything short or over pitched, which were plenty, and most of them disappeared over the boundary line. Without his contribution the score wouldn’t have been competitive.
The target was not a huge one but the Engineers are known for doing things unpredictable. Sanman Koyande and this writer went out to chase but Sanman got out in the very first over trying to score from the first ball. This caused a bit of nervousness in the camp. Kartik and Atul tried to play cautiously with 1s and 2s without taking any risk. Kathik too fell soon but not before forcing a few drives. With score standing at 29/3 after 7 overs the required rate was almost 8. Atul tried to lift the run rate and succeeded with couple of hits but lost his wicket when he was caught on the boundary. That brought in stand-in captain Anurag to the crease with score at 54/4 after 10 overs and with Pavethy at the other end batted sensibly for the next 4 overs without losing any more wickets. With asking rate touching 9.5 with only 5 overs left the batsmen decided to change gear and hit few lusty blows. With IBS running out of bowling options, both Anurag and Pavethy batted in tandem to dispatch bad balls over the rope a few times. One particular over by one of their bowlers saw 6 wides being bowled. Anurag got out trying to hit but till then the required run-rate was brought down to 7. Pavethy continued to rotate strike with Shanmugham and with the target in touching distance, Shanmugham played a Dhoni look-like wining shot to clear the long off boundary with a 6.
Having seen batting collapses for most of the last season, this was a good performance by the batters. Most of the top 6 spend some time in the middle and the chase never look out of reach. The win should give the Engineers a lot of confident for the rest of the season.
- Brief scores:
- IBS: 128 (16.3 ov.) Paul Pauly 47, Pavethy Nath 6/12, Abdul Sattar 3/24
- IECC Maestros: 129/6 (18 ov.). Anurag Singh 29, Pavethy Nath 22*.