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Tough loss on Saturday in hot/humid
conditions. Our final 11 was comprised of two guys who had never played at VCP
before (and also had no cricket in the past 3-odd years), two guys playing in
only their second match of the season, one playing in his first game of the
season, and a baseball player!
We won the toss and obviously decided to bat first, sending in Ratesh and Hassan to do the honors. WCC's bowlers were not incisive in any way, but were bang on in line and length, which obviously frustrated our openers, both going to well struck, but uppish drives straight to fielders. At this
point Vijay joined Vishnu to put on our first productive partnership of the match. Vishnu was playing as his usual solid self, while Vijay was doing a
great job at taking singles and punishing the poor stuff. We went to drinks, in 16 overs at 70 for 2, which was a decent position. Unfortunately, from
the drinks break to about the 25th over, our scoring slowed a fair amount. We lost both Vishnu and Vijay in that time as well, and Ajay laid the
groundwork for the rest of the innings, but boundaries became a little bit less frequent. Ajay, however, did an excellent job, rarely wasting a ball,
showing real grit in the heat to keep the ones and twos coming, and keep the strike rotating. Haider played a nice cameo, and we had some lusty hitting towards the end from Anwer and Raj, but I think we might have fallen about 15-20 runs short, and I would have ideally liked to have had Anwer and Raj each at the crease maybe a couple of overs earlier towards this end.
We began in demoralizing fashion when Asad's third delivery of the innings when straight through the hands of square leg (and on to the boundary to
compound things!) only to see that guy go on to score 25 when he should have been out for a duck. Instead, WCC's first wicket fell at 42. Ajay bowled well with the new ball, while Asad was less consistent. Vijay took over from Asad while Raj took over from Ajay. Vijay was bang on from the first over and continued to trouble the batsmen from his end. Unfortunately, Raj struggled a bit with line, as did Haider after him, so that the extras kept the scoreboard going on their own. Aside from that, though, WCC's skipper, Ata, at number three was showing himself to be quite a formidable player. He began his innings with a flurry of boundaries taking him quickly to 15-20, then settled down to keep the strike rotating and to plant himself for a big innings. As we chipped away at the other end, it was plain why Ata had settled down, clearly he was the only one in the side who was going to be able to take on a total of 220.
We struggled to take wickets and a couple of other chances went down, one right at the death off of Ata. The umpiring was also far from fair, with
Vishnu actually being approached after the game (Vishnu had Ata struck plumb in front in about the 30th over, covering all three stumps) and was told that WCC had made up their mind that after the last game, where there was apparently an umpiring-related scuffle, that they were not going to give leg before's, especially on Ata. We also had some amusing debate late in the innings around the rule of having to have four fielders within the ring at all times (to which my response was that I'd be happy to oblige if they could show me the ring!).
Still, Ata was well set and took boundaries almost every over and also succeeded in easily taking a last ball single to keep strike. With the
asking rate hovering around 9 from about 6 overs left, Asad returned to bowl tightly enough with Vishnu to keep the game close. Vishnu took the ball to bowl the last over with WCC needing 11 to win. Ata hit one into the outfield that looked clearly like it would only give him a single, which would effectively have ended the game, but Vijay's return throw actually hit the stumps, caromed and allowed another run. More important than that run was the fact that Ata was back on strike. He took a four from the next ball, but then Vishnu bounced back with two dot balls so that five runs were needed in two balls. Asad yelled out to the outfielders to stay alert, as he'd need a boundary to win, but it proved irrelevant, as Ata proceeded to whack that penultimate bal for a massive six over long on to win it. As you can see from the card, he scored a well deserved century. He was aided by his umpires twice, I would say, but take nothing away from a brilliant innings.
Ajay was our man of the day, by far, scoring runs, bowling a good early spell and taking a running catch as well. Our bowling generally gave away
too many extras which obviously factored in heavily to the final result. But we had a good time and got in some fun cricket on a tough day.
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