With the league games out of the way we now turned our attention to the finals. The finals structure saw 1st play 8th, 2nd play 7th etc., meaning the Sharks faced YFK first up. Given form, we would beat YFK, then, potentially meet Sano and then hopefully have a sextuplet date with Mach in the final. Getting ahead of ourselves? Good preparation? Or just daring to dream the dream, fondle the fantasy of hoisting the big hunk of fantastic gold plastic?!
The Sharks for our final assault were, in order of sex appeal as voted by readers, Varun, Nikhil, Anton, Anshul, Kris (c), and Alexis (disqualified due to vote-stacking from the Isle of Wight). Kazu was a late emergency withdrawal. So with just six we were guaranteed a good workout at least! Kris as captain for the evening had done some homework, identifying who we might play, certain players we need to watch for and strategies we might apply. What a waste of bleedin’ time that was in the end!!
The overs started at 4:30. The boil-overs not long after. During the week various Sharks had given a nervous IISJ captain, Navin, all manner of advice. Navin, always a student of the game as well as IISJ, paid attention. With a full squad, finally, including two seriously formidable fathers, IISJ clinically removed Mach from the finals equation with pressure and focused cricket. The parochial baying of a knot of green and red clad supporters, sort of combination of MCG’s Bay 13 and Eden Gardens, quietened the usually subtle groundswell for the girls. Boil-over Two was the similar removal of the highly-fancied Sano by Yamada Punchu, lead by the diminutive and deceptive lass, Sekine. With those two losses the whole landscape of the evening changed. So how would the Sharks negotiate it?
YFK: On Yer Bike
True to form, Kris lost the toss and we batted in the 6 overs X 2 game. Kris (9) and Anshul (10) open hostilities in a sedate but steady manner to accumulate 19 runs. Anton (4) and Alexis (12) continued at the trend with ones and twos to add a further 16. No wicket for 35. Our big hitters of the evening, Nikhil (0) and Vicky (16), guns a-blazin’, extended further. Sharks, a solid 51 off 6 overs. We had identified the YFK ‘danger man’ in Fuji (2nd in batting rankings) and were ready. We opted for variation, opening with Vicky (0/8) and Nikhil (1/2). YFK pushed around single but we were rewarded with a Nikhil wicket. A runout off Anton (1/3) and the first three overs were good ones with YFK at 13. An increasingly desperate YFK opened up a bit on Kris (0/16) and Anshul (0/10), but Alexis (0/7) at the ‘death’ extinguished any hope. YFK 46. We had successfully negotiated our first challenge.
Yamada Punchu: The Best Laid Schemes o’ Sharks an’ Men (or, Never Trust A Dame)
A win here would put us into the Indoor Final against the winner of IISJ and Wyverns. We had fixed up Yamada Punchu in the regular season but they had two aces up their collective sleeve in the form of big-hitting Fukuyama (winner of Best Batsman), who was no slouch as a ‘quick’, and a female player, Sekine. Our plan was to set our ‘quicks’, Alexis and Varun onto Fukuyama and pin down Sekine with some steady slow bowling by Kris and Nikhil. Anshul (0/14) and Anton (1/10) opened to the ‘great unknown’, they kept it tight, picking up a wicket on the way. Yamada Punchu 24 after 4. Enter Sekine and partner, and while Kris (0/20) and Nikhil (0/13) restricted her to 21 we could not winkle her out. YFK 57 after 8. Enter the Yamada Punchu hitman, with our own Varun (2/3) and Alexis (1/9) waiting. They did not let us down, pinning the big hitters to 12 runs and conjuring 3 wickets. Considering Fukuyama belted 123 in 86 balls for 2 outs for the season, keeping him to 5 with 2 outs was phenomenal. A credit to our bowling in general was we only sent down 4 wides in 72 balls. Shaun Tait, eat your heart out! Yamada Punchu 69. Gettable.
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