JCL2 – Chiba Sharks vs Adore C.C.
Sano 1, August 27, 2017 – By Sankar Prodhan
Dr Wheatgrass Highlight of the Day CT’s reincarnation as a batsman which will give the Sharks a lot of confidence going into the semifinal.
Can’t be called pleasant but it was an overcast and relatively cooler morning at Sano as the ground no. 4 welcomed the Sharks 2nds and Adore for their last group encounter of the season. This was a must win or draw (at that stage) situation for the 10-man Sharks contingent and they believed that they were up for it.
Considering the mercury level, which was expected to rise significantly higher in the afternoon, and believing in the capabilities of his batsmen, Captain Thurgate (CT) won the toss and elected to field first.
Neel and Sankar started the proceedings for the Sharks with no slips in place. A 10-man squad probably can’t afford to have one. The young and ever-improving Neel bowled good lines and lengths and beat the batsmen on several occasions, especially Indraith who tried to play more shots than his partner Umair, who looked more comfortable in blocking and pushing for singles. Sankar too bowled decently and had Umair chip one straight to mid-off and put down. The power-play ended with 34 for none on the board.
KB was introduced in the 9th over and he was on the money straight away. He bowled Indrajith and followed it with foxing Umair (LBW) and Amekura (bowled) in his 5th & 6th overs respectively. Adore were 3 down for 82 and the Sharks were fancying their chances to get control of the game more than they had so far. On the contrary, the biggest partnership for Adore was to follow. The captain, Hashiba, and Hagiwara made sure that they did not lose any more wickets for the next 12 overs. Neel came back for his second spell to get rid of Hagiwara – bowled, Adore 155 for 4 in the 32nd over.
Another good little partnership of 25 odd followed between Hashiba and Takase. Eventually Hashiba was brilliantly stumped by CT off Molloy – arguably the best leg spinner on display in Japan cricket right now.
Murad’s late introduction into the bowling line up paid off as he picked up 3 for just 15 from his 4 overs thanks to CT for a couple of stumpings. Sankar came back to get rid of Takase while Koji and Anton operated in-between with no luck.
Adore put on 193 for 9 on the board and the Sharks were not intimidated at all – or were they?
Murad, the highest scorer for the Sharks 2nds this season so far, and Sankar, a disappointment for the Sharks 2nds this season so far, opened the innings. Murad, in prime form, did the bulk of the scoring for the first wicket partnership while Sankar struggled at the other end before getting dismissed, chipping one to the mid-off, for 1 off 15 balls. In came Sumon, the most technically correct batsman in the Sharks line-up – well at least for the 2nds. While the Sharks in the dug-out were hoping for a lengthy partnership between the two Bangladeshi superstars in Japan cricket, Murad got out, caught & bowled, surprising himself.
Neel joined Sumon in the centre and the Sharks had their biggest partnership of 46. Neel, showing lot of maturity, did not try any heroics and concentrated on rotating the strike while Sumon took his time, respected the good balls and hit the bad ones out of the ground. The partnership was broken when Neel got out for 7 in the 18th over.
Sumon was then joined by Mairaj who was promoted to 5 and showed some intent right away by hitting a four on his favourite square-leg region. The pair separated when Sumon got out for a crafty 46 – Sharks 103 for 4 in the 24th over.
While CT was still holding himself back for some greater cause Koji and Anton went in at no. 6 & 7. Koji didn’t last long and ended up giving a return catch to Hashiba while Anton, apparently busy as always, stood his ground for a while scoring 7 in the process.
Well, CT came in at the fall of Koji in the 27th over (the Sharks needed 84 off 13 overs with 3 wickets remaining) and gave the Sharks a glimpse of hope with a display of some of his vintage artillery. Molloy (3 off 6) tried to give him some support but not for very long.
Remember the Sharks were in with just 10 players and it was all over as soon as CT got out for 32 of 29 balls – 5 fours and a six over point boundary. KB at no. 10 didn’t need to face a ball. The Sharks were all out for 153, exactly 40 runs short, in the 35th over.
The Sharks were down in the dumps as each of their souls expected to win this game and taste the semis. A few dropped catches, as usual, and some irresponsible batting at the top of the order were perhaps to be blamed along with the fact that playing a game of cricket with one man short is a pain in the arse – especially when you are fielding. But, the Sharks will take that as they are an intelligent bunch. They know that losses teach one lot more than wins do and if you learn from a defeat, you haven’t really lost.
Serendipitous Postscript: Two days later the Sharks were through to the semis courtesy of a points penalty imposed on Paddy Foley’s.
Buck up for the semis Sharkies!