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First League game for the season and Venu got things off to a good start by winning the toss and electing to bat. Michael and Arvind opened and Arvind looked in good touch from the start hitting 12 off the first over. Unfortunately he didnít add to that score and was out in the fourth over. KD came in next and also looked good. However, he soon departed, out bowled. The pitch was hard and bouncy and both Arvind and KDís dismissals were the result of being slightly rushed, in Arvindís case a skied pull shot. However, the hard pitch combined with a lightening fast outfield meant you could get good valued for your shots. Having said that, at this stage Michael definitely looked like he was playing the first game of the season and the only value he was getting from the pitch or outfield was due to an occasional streaky edge. In contrast, Laks looked like a million bucks and the two batsmen ensured that CUCC made it to drinks without further loss. Unfortunately, we were only 80-90 after 17 overs, clearly not good enough given the ground conditions. After the break, however, Michael let loose and found a bit of misplaced form. With seeming abandon, Michael went from twenty-odd to 71 in only 5 overs after drinks (as you can see from Surajís excellent stats and run rate worms, things definitely picked up after the 17th over!). Unfortunately, with a hundred beckoning, he was undone by a yorker from Umar, one of the few straight balls Pak XI bowled. But the 111 run partnership between Michael and Laks ensured we would at least post a decent total. Sunil then joined Laks but didnít last long which made way for Venu to play a cameo innings. Predictably, the Sultan of Swat failed to make it to fifty. However, his 48 off only 26 balls was just what we needed to keep the momentum going. Venu and Laks put on 79 and took us to 240, and with Suraj and Ajay, Laks made sure we ended with a total over 250. Laksí innings, understated compared to the power hitting of Michael and Venu, was every bit as important. Laks came in when the score was on 38 and was part of the two big partnerships of our innings, continually turning over the strike and picking off boundaries from the bad balls. He remained
undefeated on 64.
When we came to bowl we felt we were in the better position of the two teams (obviously, with 255 on the board), but we also felt that a score of 300 was not unthinkable, particularly given that we scored so slowly in the first 15 overs. Virtually anything that beat the infield went to the boundary and with the pitch offering good pace and bounce anything wayward was going to be punished. We knew we had to take our catches and be sharp in the field. Unfortunately, Pak XI did get off to a good start, scoring 7 or more runs off 7 of the first 10 overs. They went about the run chase intelligently, getting as many singles as possible while also getting a boundary an over. However, we managed to stop them making big partnerships. We did drop a few catches, but there were also two excellent chances taken by Dileep and Ajay (who did a sterling job on the short road boundary). What we really wanted was a nice tight spell to put them under some pressure and get the run rate down. Venu found the bowlers he wanted in Madhura and KD. Madhura was the most economical of our bowlers, going for only 34 off his 7 overs, while KD, who took 4 scalps, ensured that wickets kept falling, including a nice one-handed take by Michael. After Madhura finished Prabhu came on and took some punishment. With limited options, Venu brought himself on and ended up taking three wickets, all of them caught by Michael who ended up with 5 catches. Although Pak XI was only slightly behind the target run rate, what was really killing them was continually losing wickets. CUCC managed to mop up the tail fairly quickly, ensuring a good victory by 30 runs in what was a competitive match. Letís hope we can keep up the good form with both bat and ball.
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