1st XI vs Wyverns 1st XI, SICG2
18 July 2020, By Leon Mehlig
It had been a long wait for the 1st XI to play their first game of the season as bad weather and the ongoing pandemic suspended the season till July. The first game was going to be a tough test as the Sharks faced Wyverns who have gone from strength to strength, finishing 5th and just missing a spot in the Top 4 last season.
The weather forecast did not look very good for the day of the game and a postponement could have been on the horizon. However, before the game, the rain had stopped and the game was delayed an extra 30 mins in order for the covers to be lifted and the ground to dry a little. 7 players from the team were unchanged from the Grand Final last year where the Sharks were victorious. Out of the 4 players who came in, were 3 young-guns who had impressive U-19 World Cup Campaigns (Leon, Deba and Ashley) as well as new-comer Ibby, who bowled off-spin and could provide some runs as a lower-order batsman. The Sharks lost the toss and were asked to bowl first.
Muneeb was accompanied by Leon, who had big shoes to fill with the absence of Rui, to open the bowling. The first few overs were quite inconsistent by both bowlers, with both lines and length, and were punished with a couple of boundaries especially by Miyauchi, the Wyverns star batsman. At around the 4th over Mehlig clipped the off-stump of the ever-so dangerous Miyauchi for 17.
Ibby who had impressed in the Second XI a week earlier bowled brilliantly alongside Ashley with great lengths and line even though the ball was in bad condition and the rain was slowly becoming stronger. Ibby took the important scalp of Masaki Kawashima who was being very stubborn at the crease making it 58-2. The next 10-15 overs were quite frustrating for the Sharks as even though the two off-spinners were dotting both Shogo Kimura and Raheel Kano, there was no sort of breakthrough. As both Kimura and Kano were slowly feeling comfortable in the crease, Doogs turned his head to the “mystery bowler” Mahesh.
This was the perfect decision as in no time, Raheel was bowled by a good leg-spinner by the Mystery. Soon to follow was the Japan men’s captain Ota who was trapped LBW by another delivery by Mahesh for a duck. The score was 98-4. There was little resistance from the Wyverns no.6 and former Shark Tomizawa who got out by yet another LBW by Mahesh. The Sharks could definitely be seen as favourites at this point to win as the score was 108-5. However, the former pro-baseballer was definitely the most stubborn batsman the Sharks faced on the day and was able to dig in for an extra few overs. Ashley was to have a breakthrough where he caught and bowled Kimura to take his first wicket of the game.
However, Sharks were faced with a huge task ahead to try to finish the Wyverns off for a low-score as big-hitting Bebe Miyaji and Bhudika took their place in the crease. No real breakthrough was able to be made as the partnership between the no.7 and no.8 hit several boundaries. As Muneeb came on for his second spell, he was able to break the partnership as Bhudika fell for LBW after a handy 22 runs. The score was 194-7. After that, the Sharks were able to dismantle the Wyverns tail with 2 wickets for Neel and a wicket from the skipper.
The target score of 214 was definitely achievable for the Sharks with a strong Top-5 of Dhugal, Marcus, Neel, Deba and Takady. The start was very bright as Marcus and Dhugal took to the Wyverns bowling attack. However, opening bowler Kubota clean bowled Doogs and next in was Neel. The partnership between Marcus and Neel was promising with a flurry of quick singles and boundaries. Unfortunately, the partnership couldn’t prosper as Neel fell LBW for 5 with another delivery by Kubota.
In came Takady who played positively as soon as he reached the middle. He confidently took on all of the Wyverns bowlers and helped increase the run rate. It seemed as though Marcus was on a roll but unluckily played a wrong shot to Bebe’s slow bowling and was sent to the pavilion. Up next was Deba who like Takady was positive from the get-go. They both rotated the strike very well and hit some beautiful shots which went for boundaries.
This partnership was crucial for the Sharks to snatch the win and seemed like both were going to stay until the end as they frustrated the Wyvern bowling attack. However, the 30 odd run partnership came to an end with Takady falling with almost a run per ball 17. The lower order could not really muster any sort of fight-back as the Sharks lost 6 wickets for 15 runs and ended with 106 all out.
It was a game where the Sharks had patches of really good play and were looking to be able to run away with the game but also some inconsistency which had cost us the win. However, this was the first game the 1st XI played since the Grand final and with every match, improvement will be seen and hopefully, 3 wins a row to try to seal a top-two spot for a chance in the Grand Final yet again.
Thank you to the Wyvern’s who played a very good game of gentlemen-like cricket. Also a huge thank you to the two umpires from AQCC who took their precious time to umpire our game as well as officiating for almost 80 overs.