Apr, 2009 – Giants Sink Sharks – BIG Time

KCL – Sharks vs Giants, 12/4/2009

In our first journey to Ageo for 2009 the Chiba Sharks took on the Giants in the KCL. The mid-week intelligence in the forums obviously identified the experienced and talent-laden Giants as a team to beat. Alas, the Giants depth came to the fore and the Sharks have some thinking to do about another monumental batting collapse.
A rainless week in Tokyo ended on a similarly dry weekend. For a number of players it was the first trip to the wild steppes of Ageo and a new experience in the definition of cricket fields and pitches.

The Giants won the toss and decided to bat on a ‘plasticy’ green top – all the more strikingly green, being set in the middle of a desert. The Sharks again started very well with Alexis bowling their dangerous opener with his second ball (an almost-sort of-nearly a hat-trick as he had collected the final two wickets the previous week in consecutive balls). He could have had more wickets as some difficult chances went through slips. The Sharks sharp fielding continued and we were keeping the vaulted Giants batting line up in good check. Wickets also fell to good bowling, none more so than Mayank’s spell before and after drinks. The drinks break at 18 overs saw the Giants at 5/165. Considering the opposition and the ground, that was a respectable return and we were right to think we were in with a chance. Despite our good fielding and bowling no real ‘gettable’ chances came to hand and the late order Giants batsmen started to do some real damage – often to the upper limbs of the boundary side trees. Enough damage, in fact, to end up on 8 for 247 after 30 overs, DECLARED! Yes, in perhaps a first for limited over cricket in Japan, the Giants declared, setting the Sharks 248 to win in 35 overs (not a declaration of arrogance or supreme confidence, but one spiritually motivated).

Bowling Figures
Pat 4 overs – 29 runs – 0 wickets
Alexis 4-19-1 (caught behind)
Levi 4-24-1 (bowled)
Varun 4-31-1 (bowled)
Dave 4-24-1 (bowled)
Mayank 5-44-2 (LBW, LBW)
Graphic 5-49-2 (caught Lollback, stumped)
Sundries 36
30 overs 8/247

WIth our regular opener, Prashant, umpiring, a titanium-strengthened Graphic and Mayank opened at the top of a ‘innovative’ batting line-up, and for a while it looked like an inspired choice. Mayank, fortified by his bowling effort, absolutely feasted on the Giants attack, treating almost every ball with willowy contempt. Graphic also looked ‘in the mood’ until he picked out backward point with a well-struck cut. Mayank follow next after depositing the opening bowlers to all points of Ageo, on his way for a rapid-fire 34. Dave joined Pat and they battled it out as the change bowlers showed much more line and zip. The tightened bowling did not, however, give an inkling of the debacle to come… The still, Sunday afternoon Ageo air was soon to be wrent, loud and often, with the zealous appeals of Giants, both legitimate and phantasmagorical. With the score on an already wobbly 76 for 4 after 10 overs we just disintegrated, losing the last 5 for zip. This reporter was rooted at the non-striker’s end while batsmen faced a similar fate at the other. It was… just…horrible. A mixture of good line and injudicious shot selection did not hide the fact that we just went diced and sliced pear-shaped. And we don’t ever want to revisit THAT final wicket run-out, do we? Chiba Sharks, all at sea, 81 in 14.2 overs. For prosperity…

Batting Disfigures
Mayank – caught – 34
Graphic – caught – 2
Pat – caught – 20
Dave – bowled? – 2
Varun – caught & bowled – 6
Kris – LBW – 4
Navin – bowled – 0
Nikhil – LBW – 0
Chris – bowled – 0
Alexis – levitated out – 0
Levi not out – 0
Sundries – 13
14.2 Overs 10/81

Positives? Erm, well, we bowled and fielded well for a good portion of the Giants innings. Not much got through fielders if they were in range to stop the ball. Alexis patrolling the boundary again threw himself at everything and Navin was solid for the most part behind point. Dave picked up a catch and made some desperate stops. Everyone was lively. No real ‘sitters’ were put down because there weren’t any. We were unlucky through the slips, with nothing direct or edges going well wide (where was ‘Air Creece’ when we needed him!?). Chris had a good day behind the pegs. We could be well-pleased with our effort in the field. The bowling similarly was restrictive given the very generous (to the batsmen) ‘wide’ interpretation. Alexis continued his good form, Graphic kept a great line, beating the bat regularly, and Mayank was a revelation. The quicks did their bit despite their narrow ‘zone’ on the day. We did a great job against the top order considering the Giants No. 7 and No. 8 combined added 93 runs! They just took it way from us very quickly on the small ground. Our batting, apart from Mayank and Pat, was most lamentable – more noughts than the Zimbabwean dollar.

It was a belting in the end, but one best put behind us. To liberally paraphrase some famous movie lines:
I’ve seen innings you people wouldn’t believe. Attacking slips on fire and ones off the shoulder to mid-on. I watched seamers glitter in the dark from the Bay 13 Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like overs in the rain. Time … to apply. (Both the character’s name and movie title very, very apt – get onto it, Iain!)

Let’s take it out on the Wyverns.

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