July 26, 2015
July-August is not an ideal time to play cricket. The sapping heat and high humidity makes it feels like one is standing in front of a furnace. To boot, when the game is in Sano, which is the second hottest city in Kanto area because the heat is trapped by the surrounding mountains, it will be like a war of attrition not a cricket game. When the game is between two equally strong teams and two favourites to lift the cup this year, it adds some spice to the game as well. But you forget all the hardships when you get the desired result at the end and the Engineers did go home satisfied.
It was the Engineers’ first KCL match and if the opponents, Samurai, who had played 4 matches before with an undefeated run, came thinking to finish their league level matches with a clean slate, this writer will not blame them. They had the batsmen, they had the bowlers, they had the fielders and they had the hope too. But the Engineers had the will.
Samurai won the toss and as expected chose to bat first. Having only played T-20 matches until then this was the Engineers first 40 over match of the season and therefore it was perhaps a good toss to lose. Every skipper’s inherent desire is to bat first so we probably would have batted first had we won the toss. Who knows, without a target in sight, we would have played like a bang bang T-20 game only to get out for around 100 runs!
As Supun and Hanif Niazi opened the batting for Samurai, Rajaneesh and Biju opened the bowling for the Engineers. Both openers opened up straight away with boundaries. Biju produced an edge off Hanif in the his first over but to everyone’s dismay the keeper could not hold on to it. As the captain wore a worried look wondering the cost of the drop, Rajneesh produced a beauty to take out Hanif in the next over, the batsman being taken in the deep smartly by a well placed Dinesh. Lakmal, the next batsman, and Supun tried to lay the foundation with a 32 runs partnership. With 55 runs in 11 overs, Lakmal played one shot too many and was bowled by Manvi. From then on, the Samurai didn’t look like any sort of warriors their club is named after. Batsman after batsman tried to play shots before getting set and paid the price immediately. The hard hitting Chula was an example. He lofted the second ball he faced for a six and got caught out in the deep by a well placed Dinesh the very next ball trying to play the same shot. The only batsman who played with some sense was Asantha who came in at no. 9 when the score was at 109 after 23 overs. Asantha displayed the skills that is required to play an one-day game. He blocked, he pulled, he drove, he left, he flicked, he had all the shots. When he left, clean bowled by Rajaneesh, he had taken his team’s score to 157. The Engineers didn’t let the Samurai add any more to that score and wrapped the next two batsmen in quick succession. While Rajaneesh stood out among the bowlers with a return of 4/26, Anurag and Manvi were miserly with 18/1 and 19/1, respectively.
Engineers opened their innings with skipper Vinay and debutante Charan Sidhu. Charan showed the nervousness of a debutante, wafting at most deliveries. Chula, the veteran all rounder of Samurai, sensed blood and bowled a slower one. Charan went after it only for the ball to go straight up giving Chula a comfortable return catch. That brought Dinesh, who has been in awesome form throughout the season, into the crease. The duo played real cricket and took the score to 108 in 15 overs. Dinesh’s departure caused a mini-collapse, which Engineers have specialized in over the years – free advice is available how to do it – but skipper Vinay stood tall among the ruins to alleviate any trepidation. His pugnacious 78 consisted of 8 shots to the boundary and 5 over it. He raced from 40 to 50 in only 4 balls with 2 scoring shots, one four and a six.
When two strong teams are sparring the absence of a neutral umpire can cause some consternation. Immediately after Vinay’s half century, Samurai thought they had their man when Chula apparently produced an edge off the batsman but the umpire thought that he had heard two sounds and wasn’t quite sure which one of that came off the bat. Easy decision – not out :-). By that time Vinay and Dinesh had taken the game almost beyond Samurai’s reach.
As the Engineers fell from 127/2 to 129/5 in a quick span, game seesawed, with the initiative being more often given up by Samurai than wrested away by the Engineers. Finally the Engineers managed to hold their nerve and win by 5 wickets with all rounder Manvi scoring 13 runs and the second debutante Palash Agrawal managing to stay at the wicket seeing off 24 balls while scoring 4 valuable runs. The win ensured that the Engineers earned bonus points for bowling out the opposition and scoring 1.25x the rate of opposition’s run rate.
Well played Samurai. Thank you for the wonderful game!
Samurai: 157/10(32.5 ov). Supun 31, Asantha 47, Rajaneesh Shukla 4/26.
I Engineers: 158/5(25.2 ov). Vinay Mohan 78, Dinesh Singh 32, Chula 3/23.