… Yamada Punchu 69. Gettable.
Yamada Punchu’s bowling was a bit of an unknown factor on the day. Big Fukuyama can send them down and female player Sekine had shown a bit in the opening game. (Later research revealed that Sekine in the regular season took 4/10 in 2 games compared to Sano’s female ace, S. Miyaji, who took 10/45 in 7.) Kris (17) and Anton (-5) opened to face these two bowlers. They proved a handful. Fast and accurate, and either wides or pseudo-pies at a nagging height and length. Sekine proved very, very annoying. We finished at 12 but at least we had got them out of the way, with solid batting to come.
Hindsight is a horrible thing. Post-match research revealed two more Yamada P bowlers in the top ten stats. Anshul (13) and Alexis (13) found ones and twos and a nice 6 by Alexis, but lost two more wickets on the way to 38. This left the last pair to get 32 to win. Not a comfortable equation. We got off to a bad start with a runout and the tight bowling was not giving up the multiple hits we needed. Varun (8) and Nikhil (11) tried but another runout on the penultimate ball did for us. A last ball runout was more in frustration. Sharks 57.
This loss put us in (a) the final for 3rd place and (b) a murderous mood!
Prize Giving: Dave’s Not Here, Man!
Before the pointy end of the evening we had season awards for Best Batter and Best Bowler for both male and female players. Dave Lollback took out the Best Bowler award with an amazing season record: 14 wickets – 5 runs – 6 games.
The ceremony went something like this:
Wukiwuki: Best Bowler, Sharks David Rollback!
Wukiwuki: Oh, Lollback! You won the Best Bowler. Dave?
Wukiwuki: Yeah, Dave. Come and get your prize.
Wukiwuki: Yeah, DAVE!
Sharks: Oh, Dave’s not here, man!
Wukiwuki: Can someone come up for Dave?
Wukiwuki: For Dave Lollback. Best Bowler. D.A.V.E. Dave!!
Wukiwuki: Yes, Dave. He has a prize.
Sharks: Oh, Dave!
Wukiwuki: YES, Dave.
Sharks: Dave’s not here, man!
(Apologies to Dave, Cheech and Chong, and for a horrible re-enactment of sorts, starring … well, make up your own mind.)
And now back to the cricket.
We were understandably glum or in one case downright livid about our loss to Yamada Punchu. A chance for glory let slip left us in a battle for third place with, ironically, IISJ, who, based on their showing tonight were in a confident frame of mind. The banter before the game was friendly, but once in the net, there ain’t a team we won’t bite!
Chomp, Chomp, Chomp – Burp!
Chiba Sharks produced one of the most devastating performances of modern Japanese indoor history tonight in their game against the Mach-slaying IISJ Phoenix. Words cannot adequately describe the absolute caning that the Sharks dished out – but I’ll have a go!
Losing the toss (agin!) and batting first, Kris (14) and Nikhil (20) set about making the Sharks final game a good one. Showing wonderful understanding, the two mature-age openers showed years were no barrier to good batting and running. Ones regularly became twos, they even ran a four at one stage, throwing IISJ into utter, ball-flinging chaos. The double-An team of Anton (13) and Anshul (12) continued the Shark march up the graph slope with more good placement and sensible running. Not much joy in there for IISJ as only two wickets went down in 62 runs. The last pair of our very own VVS – Varun ‘Vicky’ Sancheti – and Alexis ‘Ace’ Coovre took no time in showing the lads they had a bit more suffering to do. VVS (27), still smarting from the Yamada P game, launched some balls into the back net while Ace (15) leaned into some sumptuous, copybook off and cover drives (has to bat up the order). The dads were sharp but faced an almost irresistible willow-wielding force. They say that ‘experience is the mother of wisdom’ – well the IISJ lads had a lesson in how to accumulate indoor runs without necessarily having brute force. Well, a bit. With the last thud of willow on leather the score stood at a notch over the ton for only the lost of two wickets. All batsmen reached double figures for a great all-round effort. Sharks 101.
It would turn out to be more like IISJ’s Room 101…. Imagine a cricket ball smashing into a set of stumps – forever.
The carnage started fourth ball, sending the IISJ graph into the nosedive antithesis of the Shark’s. Alexis (5/-17) picked up four wickets in three balls for what could be the first hat-trick in Japanese indoor history. Varun (2/0) and Nikhil (3/6) grabbed two each. Kris (3/3) picked up the second hat-trick and Anton (2/9) is on one with his first ball next season. Feeling left out Anshul (1/8) chipped in with a bowled. Bowleds, runouts from sharp returns and direct hits, catches plucked out of the air like picking apples. Kris as ‘keeper spent most of his time replacing bails and eventually gave up high-fiving. Were the schoolboys out to prove Einstein’s theory that two lines of light going in opposite directions would eventually meet? By mid-innings IISJ had lost 13 wickets, so that was that. They had picked up ones or twos or been gifted wides, however they eventually steadied somewhat to claw their way back into the positives. IISJ 8.
An utter demolition of a team that knew how to play cricket. It was a fantastic team win. We had only two wishes – that we could do this all the time and that we were doing it to Wyverns in the net next door.
It was a final series of upsets, led by Navin and his merry men and men-to-be. Yamada Punchu were probably the surprise packet, knocking out Sano as well as us. They went down to Wyverns in the final. Chiba Sharks take out Third Place after finishing the year second on the ladder. An improvement on last year and plenty of scores to make and to settle in the 2011 series.
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