Feb, 2010 – A Hard-boiled Shark Trilogy

How many times have you heard, “Cricket is a funny game”. Too bleedin’ many times? – yeah, me too! But teams and players can run hot one game and cold the next. Sometimes both at the same time. With our remaining three indoor games of the regular series what might we expect to see from the Chiba Sharks? Excitement, drama, pathos, mystery, steely-eyed, tooth and fin cricket? The name is Sharks, Chiba Sharks.

Game 1 vs Sano: “Live and Let Shark”

Bit of a ‘top of the table’ tussle this one. Sano is probably our biggest rival after the Gells of Mach and they boasted a similar win record. We won the toss and bowled first. Sano built steadily and wickets were as rare as chicken teeth. By the end of the second pair Sano were a healthy 63, with two female batters to come. Suffice to say we let them right off the hook at this point. We ARE the best defensive side in the comp and one of the few all-male teams to knock off Mach, but all-round, with the exception of a 3-wicket over by Dave, we lost the plot a bit in these last four overs to the ladies. Blame it on the pheromones! By innings end Sano had posted 97 runs.
We have not been a big scoring team among the top four, but we were confident we had the firepower to deal with this total. We were very confident after Prashant (34) and Nikhil (17) had set us on our way very nicely at 51 with no loss. Vicky (10) and Alexis (17) as the middle men continued to negotiate our way forward against, at times, bewildering tenpin bowling. Both played some nice back net shots once they found their range, leaving us well-placed at 78. Needing 20 to win, Dave (2) and Kris (11) were the last pair to face the crafty Alex Miyagi and the final female bowler. Forrest Gump’s mum said, “Life was box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get”. Maybe Sally Field played indoor cricket, ’cause it ‘bout sums up the female players we face. Well, this one had a hard centre, bowling a good, tricky, frustrating length on off or thereabouts. While the scoring was steady, in the end they were just not able to consistently get enough good wood onto ball, and with a few outs, Sharks 91 fall short by 6 runs.
On reflection this was one of those annoying ‘if only’ games. We had players who would like to forget this game for various reasons and hope their team-mates do, too. In our bowling, fielding and batting we could probably point out a number of decisions, incidents or general areas, where, given our time again, we would do better. Credit to Sano, though, for their organised percentage cricket. Did they win it or did we lose it? But, well, cricket is a fu… oh, never mind. Let’s have another crack at them in the finals!

Game 2 vs Adore: “From Kashiwa, With Love”

After twiddling our thumbs between practices we took aim at Adore. So WAS there a lot to love about this team? Who cares, as long as we beat them to a pulp – we had a point to prove. Game 2 saw some line-up changes to spread the joy about. Prashant as captain won the toss and went sent Adore in. Adore started off steadily until Taka pegged them back with a double-wicket over. They continued adding runs here and there as our bowling seemed lacked some penetration. Two run-outs and a brilliant, six-saving, one-handed, two-bites-at-the-cherry catch by Anton accounted for our wickets. Adore reached 85.
The opening pair of Anton (6) and Vicky (21) started of with a negative but soon both batters erased that, found their rhythm, and rarely let a ball get by without a run for a good start of 27. Anshul (19) and Taka (17) carried on in the same vein, rotating the strike and scoring high up in the side nets for extra runs. They took us to 63, which was right on target. The last pair of Prashant (27) and Nikhil (12) were two of our hottest bats so it was no surprise that they set about pasting the Adore attack. In the end it was a comfortable win by 17 runs. Sharks 102 – Adore 85.
A feature of this very solid batting performance was the running between wickets. All batters and runners were on the ball, backing up well, calling decisively and picking up extra runs. In all this ‘to-ing and fro-ing’ there was only one run-out. A great effort.

Game 3 vs IISJ Phoenix: “The Shark Who Came In From The Cold”

The final game of a long evening was a reprise against IISJ Phoenix. Originally Phoenix had forfeited due to the lack of a team but some internal administrative strife required them to play the match out. As it was, Phoenix required two subs. The Sharks were not without their own ‘strife’ when a selected player, young Tamzid, mysteriously failed to show at the required time. His place was taken in the selected side by Kris. The Sharks won the toss and opted to bowl. Wickets fell consistently and Phoenix was never allowed to feel comfortable. We got seven run-outs in total and bowled a very tight line. The highlights of our bowling/fielding were the efforts of Dave (4 for -10) and Anshul (4 for -3), and Taka who, capping off some consistent sharpness close in, coolly hauled in a quality catch and then made a direct hit run-out! Double play! It was probably our best all-round fielding effort for the night, restricting Phoenix to 33 and registering 12 outs.

With the materialization of Tamzid from out of the void and some generosity from Phoenix captain, Navin, Tamzid (9) and Anton (12) opened the batting. A mixture of circumspect batting and educated running saw them put on a respectable 21 at no loss. Off to a solid start. Lollback (26), rediscovering some of his prodigious batting mojo, continued the consistent scoring pressure and with Taka (12) carefully milking the bowlers erring line they took us past Phoenix to 59, again with no loss. The final pair of Anshul (15) and Alexis (11), while giving Phoenix a smidgen of joy with a couple of wickets, still added 26 to take us to 85.

A very good batting performance to complement the bowling. Chiba Sharks 85 back to their best too good for plucky Phoenix 33. MVP Anshul Bahl (4/-3, 15 runs, sharp fielding on a dodgy leg).

So, 2-1 for the evening. We started off in wayward fashion but over the course of the next two games we played some ever-improving team cricket. Last year we rode our luck into the finals but were found wanting at the pointy end of the season. This year it might be that we have made it through our rough patch at the ‘right’ time. Next stop, finals.

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