KCL – Sharks Vs Lalazar, 13 June 2010 – By Alexis Coovre
The Chiba Sharks went down fighting, losing to Lalazar by three wickets, in their penultimate KCL clash, at Ageo.
The safari vehicles pulled away from spot X, in a shining black three-car convoy. Clutching a tattered map with instructions to turn right, left, and then left again over the bridge, our emerald heroes eventually found their way to Ageo-Sands Game Reserve.
Captain Lollback won the toss and elected to bat, in a game reduced to 35-overs. There was the whoosh of Velcro, the clank of polycarbonate, and before too long Nikhil and Bayne were striding across the hot desert sands towards the rectangular oasis.
Norman the Conqueror, of Wyvern’s fame, raced in, the openers troubled by his metronomic line and length. Faisal was equally accurate, sparing nothing for the watchful openers. In the fourth over Bayne sought to up the tempo, finding the boundary, but was out next ball, chipping Faisal to the waiting hands of Abid – gone for five.
The score 1/9 in the fourth over, Giles-Jones away on family duties, something special was needed, a captain’s knock perhaps? Enter the Big White Shark.
The bowlers continued to give nothing away however, and in the seventh over Norman got one to zip, trapping Nikhil plumb in front, for zero; the score 2/12.
Sancheti joined Lollback, who was dusting off the cut-shot – a good sign for the Sharks. Sancheti was his effervescent self, cracking a boundary off his fourth ball faced, his senior partner always there to rein him in when needed. The pair left the good balls and put away the bad ones, bringing up 50 for the Sharks in the 13th over. They amassed a 48-run partnership, before Sancheti miscued one to Irfan at extra-cover, off the bowling of Abid – gone for ten.
Gurjinder came in and gave good support to Lollback, who at this stage was finding some long-lost form. With his trademark “Nooooo!” back foot cover drives, and pulls in front of mid-wicket – the big fella was nothing short of an earth-moving pas de deux.
Gurjinder scored a one, two, three, and a four, racing to double figures. He and Lollback put on a 35-run partnership, before the former spooned one to the safe hands of Faisal, gone for ten off 13 balls.
Lloyd-Williams joined his fellow Chiba rate payer, and together the pair took the scorecard past the 100-mark in the 23rd over. Lollback crashed one to the fence bringing up his 50 off only 61 balls, raising his bat in the direction of his teammates. Lloyd-Back put on 31 for the fifth wicket, before Lollback got trapped in front by Hamad. His face went crimson, his head lowered, but his 66 off just 75 balls, including 11 fours, was a morale-lifting knock of typhoon proportions.
Navin jogged out to the crease bringing with him untapped batting potential, and eleven secret herbs and spices. His union with Lloyd-Williams was short-lived however, the latter holing out to Faisal, off the bowling of Norman, for a personal best of seven.
Anshul joined Navin, and together they kept the scoreboard ticking over with quick singles, and urgent twos. Navin found the boundary on several occasions as he watched his score sail past his previous best of ten. Anshul raced to double figures, off only 12 balls – his own personal best. The pair put on 24 runs, but Norman was brought back into the attack, and moments later there was a thud, an excited question, and then a crooked finger, signalling the end of Anshul’s innings.
Thurlow stepped up; looking for a repeat of his form the week before, but Abid had other ideas, crashing through his defenses, gone for a blob – the score 8/157.
Coovre and Navin: together again . . . for the first time. Navin worked the bowlers around for ones and twos; Coovre swatted two fours, before driving Humayan over long-off for six, off the last ball of the innings. Navin played the innings of his Sharks career making a personal best of 22 from 23 balls; Coovre also hit a personal best with 16 from ten balls. Their partnership of 31 brought the Sharks’ score to 9/188, off 35 overs; a batting card which featured contributions from everyone. But would it be enough?
A few lunchbox items later, the Sharks walked out onto the ground and manned their respective stations. Half Lalazaarian, half Shark, Aashiq punished the Sharks in the first over, rocketing the score to 24 off just six deliveries.
In the next over Aashiq drove Coovre through the covers for four, but Coovre struck back, digging it in short, and catching the batsman’s gloves on the way through to the keeper – gone for 26 off eight deliveries; the score 1/29 in the second over.
Hammad and Barkat steadied the ship amidst a barrage of close calls, ticking the scoreboard over with an assortment of adventurous shots. Hammad smashed three fours in his innings of 15, but Thurlow had him edging to Bayne, who is a most improved keeper.
Gulzar came out to the crease and, after having a look at the bowling, proceeded to hit the ball into and over the boundary. The Sharks were tidy in their fielding, in particular Kazu who rode the boundary, letting nothing within reach through. Gulzar had the scorers working overtime, but was eventually bowled by Navin, trying to hit him into the savannah grassland. His innings of 42 off of 25 balls containing six 4s and two sixes, another dashing knock by the Lalazaar captain.
Barkat might have started his innings slowly, but in the latter half of his stay he peppered the boundary with shots through the gap, and over the top. He raced to 50, before deciding to retire his innings; his 51 off 34 balls, including four 4s and five sixes, a classic, thunderous knock.
Lollback bowled with economy and, in his second over, had new batsmen Faisal chipping to Lloyd-Williams, at mid wicket, who took a well judged catch – gone for three.
Norman strode to the wicket, and was his aggressive best, finding the boundary in three different places. But Nikhil trapped Humayo for five, then Lollback trapped Abid for six, and suddenly the Sharks only needed two more wickets to win!
Sadly for the Sharks however, there were simply not enough runs in the coffer, and when a ball went for five wides, it was all over for the Sharks. Lalazaar reached the target with fifteen overs to spare, and it was another job well done. The Sharks walked off thinking . . . “If only for a few more runs . . .” but they at least gave Lalazaar a good run for their money.
The players shook hands, before retreating to their respective camps for a think and a drink. The mat was rolled up, bags were packed, the rubbish collected. The Sharks crossed the desert sea, went through the gorilla forest, before coming to the edge of the woods where the safari vehicles were waiting. In single file, the convoy drove out across the plains, the afternoon sun lighting up the horizon.
If the rain holds off, then the Sharks will finally get to take on the YCAC, in Yokohama, this Sunday 20 June. Prashant and his merry men have been waiting for this moment for ages; surely we can oblige them with some Sharks cricket up there with the very best – shades of Ageo perhaps.
Sharks never stop swimming.
|Bayne||c. Abid||b. Faisal||5|
|Sancheti||c. Irfan||b. Abid||10|
|Gurjinder||c. Faisal||b. Hamad||10|
|Lloyd-Williams||c. Norman||b. Faisal||7|
|Shibuta||did not bat|
Norman 2/14; Faisal 2/24; Abid 2/39
|Aashiq||c. Bayne||b. Coovre||26|
|Hammad||c. Bayne||b. Thurlow||15|
|Faisal||c. Lloyd-Williams||b. Lollback||3|
|total||For 6||(20 overs)||189|
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