By Koji Watanabe
Chiba Sharks 2nd XI vs Men In Blue 1st XI
Sept 2, SICG2
“To play, or not to play, that is the question”. It is a banal twist of the famous Prince Hamlet soliloquy, but this uncertainly was the protracted discussion the whole time until the match of the 2nd XI vs MIB at SICG 2 actually started.
In the early morning on the game day, a typhoon passed near the Kanto area and it left some nasty puddles on the turf wicket area. We thought the game would be called off in the morning.
The initial decision by both captains was to go to the ground and check on the condition. The waterlogged square looked far from safe. That we might slip on the mud did not matter to our opponent, nonetheless, as they clearly wanted to get at us. While the decision rested with the umpires, the MIB lobbied and gestured and all players worked hard to bring the condition of the pitch strips to playable, sponging and squeezing out the water from the paddy field-like patches adjacent to the pitch. The muddy water oozed back to form puddles repeatedly as if the square was the bottomless bowl of café latte, but the water was eventually gone. Well, mostly. Like Bunyip Bluegum’s Magic Pudding, the pitch area had its own say in things.
After a few more inspections, the umpires decided to start the game at 1 pm and reduced to 20 overs a side. Both captains went out to toss, skipper Neel won it and we chose to bat first.
We were, unfortunately, without CT, who had turned his ankle in a Rusty hole in his yard on Friday. We petitioned the umpires and also MIB to allow us to play Marcus, who was training in the nets, as 12th/’keeper. We were, however, denied (quid pro quo?), so we were forced to go in with just 10 men. Rubal took up the gloves. Both decisions are a keeper…
Neel and Kavin were the opening gambit of Sharks batting. The duo looked calm and determined, but the dampened, slippery pitch threw them off a bit. Actually, the ground condition was not always on MIB’s side, and they bowled a lot of wide balls. Kavin fought well and milked as many singles as possible, but he was bowled out by the ball skidding low. 1-12.
Now Sankar entered the fray. With the moisture on the ground, the ball did not go too far off the square, but the pair never missed a chance to squeeze a run. After a few overs, Sankar managed to send the ball to the boundary for 4, and Sharks runs were slowly building up. The partnership was functioning for a while, but then sadly Neel was caught. 2-23.
With Neel gone, Anton joined Sankar. He was trying to strike some meaty blows over the wet field, but the ball was grounded and MIB men were alerted to stop our mighty vice captain. Sankar was finding gaps and Anton supported well. Looking for any runs, Anton dapped a ball behind point and started running, Sankar rightly declined. Anton back-peddled furious on the slippery surface but he couldn’t make it back. He was out Run Out at 3-31.
Newly-minted Shark, ‘Deba’ Debashish, now came in. He stayed at the pitch for a while to help Sankar leading the charge alone. Sankar walloped a massive six to give the Sharks tent something to cheer. Deba did not look out of place and batted maturely. Sankar was out Bowled looking for more runs. 4-69.
The next batsman Rubal added some runs but it did not last long. Rubal was bowled out by MIB’s fast bowler. 5-80. Deba followed soon after.
Energised from his ‘power nap’ Krishna remained not out off three and Mairaj’s one ball was similarly unburdened before 20 overs are up. KB and Koji did not bat (and thus MIB avoided an almighty thrashing!). Our total was 86, Sankar easily top-scoring with 27 and it is including generous sundries (one over going 11 balls – can we have some more, sir?).
Captain Neel and in-form Krishna opened the bowling with some good stuff. The two youngsters kept MIB run rates low. Shark’s first change, Sankar’s mixed it up, bowling to put them out of gear, and it apparently worked. Krishna’s razor-sharp bowling took our first wicket. Obviously, it was unplayable for the MIB batsman, Manvi (probably a tad tired), and he was hit in front and full on the boot and out, incredulous, LBW! Rumours of a bit of wood were quickly discounted or quashed. 1-23.
The field was both lush and damp, so it was slow-going to make runs. Neel threw the bowlers around to find a crack but MIB crept toward the low target.
Our second and last success came with KB with only a handful of runs to get. He continued his good form as always. No matter how the condition of the pitch is, it does not affect him. MIB’s batsmen wanted a piece, though. The remaining opener was on 49 and wanted the glory shot to end the game. He danced down the wicket only to see the ball pushed wider and quicker. Batsman stumped for 49 by Rubal. Little victories can also be sweet.
There was some positive bowling also from Kavin and Koji, but we could not suppress MIB’s batting attack. The match was concluded with MIB winning by 8 wickets.
Although we lost, we had a good game and good fun after all. The Second XI was proudly led by Neel and we showed the spirit of Sharks all around through the season! Thank you, Neel! Thank you, Sharks!