JCL1 – Chiba Sharks vs Tigers
June 29, 2019 Sano 3 – By Kris Bayne
When this game started England looked almost out of the World Cup it and there was ‘heat-wave’ of 33 degrees in London, meaning they got our weather…
… and we got theirs! And we still do!
The Tigers wore blue. The day, gray. We went through somewhat less than fifty shades, none enjoyable, and it was down-right murky by the end. A mist of microscopic rain was soon ever-present, coating everyone and everything. It was like keeping score on pieces of limp lettuce. Thank goodness for the cricket!
Sharks were at practically full strength. Our Japan Men’s and marauding U19 reps were onboard with the usual suspects, and we welcomed Clampa back to the side. A very strong team today. Batted and bowled deep and good in the field. Dhugal won the toss and decided to send Tigers in to have a bat.
The message to the bowlers from the Captain was, “Aim at the stumps today. Off and middle, yeah.” And although our fielding in a recent T20 was excellent we still want to improve.
It was a bit of an unconvincing start from our two quicks. But Muneeb got the Shark mirror ball turning, entice a drive that landed safely in the hands of Mahesh (4-1-25). Then the great Shark lock down began. Rui-Neel combined for three maidens on trot and but a hand full of runs (10-1-38). Neel accepted an easy return catch and his day was done at a very tidy 4-1-8-1.
Then it was torture by magical spin. ‘Mystery’ Mahesh and Yugi ‘The Whizz’ Retharekar might as well have sealed the Tigers in concrete. Ball after ball after ball was either a dot or a single. In between Mahesh castled one, then Yugi put another Tiger out of his misery. Living up to his nickname, it was a quality catch by Clampa that streaked by Marcus but the big man took the damp ball in his left mitt. Yugi was stiff to not get more wickets, but Mahesh-Clampa combined later. Yugi bowled his eight in a row and you can see why Dhugal just let the wee laddie roll on:
But the Tigers don’t lie down so easily. They dare not with Sabaorish expecting them to fight to the last man. Despite the Yugi-maelstrom they found runs and started to form partnerships. At 4-94 after 26 overs on a day when scoring was hard we needed a breakthrough.
Enter ‘Disco’ Muneeb, also the Go-to Man. In his second over back he had the increasingly frustrated Sabaorish very, very well caught low down (the ball was like soap by now) by ‘Kazu’ Ueda on the square boundary (he fielded all day as if the ball was dry!). At Mahesh’s rest, Doogs threw the ball around looking for more breaks. Kazu’s first two dubiously went for a no-ball 6 and a wide 4, and later Takady coughed up a bit in between good deliveries.
Doogs gave himself a crack. Rui found gripping the now sodden ball hard and it showed. Mahesh bagged a second but the runs started to be found as Tigers Number 6 Urminder and the lower order found gaps and rope. In the final over Marcus accepted an easy top-edge to give Muneeb his third and the latter then collected the return hit nicely, fired it in and Marcus removed the bails on the last ball. Tigers 8-173 and it would be a tricky total given the misty conditions.
We perhaps relaxed a bit. We put down a few hard/half chances and allowed partnerships, even small ones, to push the score up to an uncomfortable zone. But, the Tiger chase was on!
We batted very deep. We would need to.
Dhugal and Neel took time to adjust not only to the bowling but also the poor light and difficult field. But after spraying all over Mouli found length and movement and did for both of them. Neel knicked off to slip and Dhugal, respecting he had been beaten, walked after a faint touch to the ‘keeper. Suddenly it was 2-27.
Clampa, bat in hand for the first time since the-game-that-shall-not-be-mentioned in September last year, and Kazu started to make inroads on the remaining 150ish still needed. It was going well for a while. Kazu swatted a couple to the rope MLB-style and the big, broad face of Clampa’s Bradman Limited Edition, extra-rolled, announced his return with an early back-to-back 4&6. Then things got locked down with the bowling change. Kazu departed, uprooted, to have us 3-59.
Takady and Clampa then put together what would be the key partnership. It was not easy for much of it, however.\, not at all. Tight lines, slow field and it wasn’t getting drier nor lighter. It was slow going and rope-bound balls were pulling up in the wet outfield, so much so that despite their calmness and plenty of batting the Sharks tent was getting a little edgy.
When Takady skied one, twenty-two pairs of eyes tracked it intently, knowing the ball’s fate could tip the balance. Tipped it was – onto the grass. And with that life, Takady came to life. He released the kraken! In the stretch of seven balls faced he reeled off 44.41.6 including a typical Takada drive and creamed a maximum square and well into Sano 4. Clampa, too, responded in kind, including a 6 drive tantalizingly over the head of the Tigers captain at long on. Just as it seemed they had broken the bowlers’ with string of shots Clampa’s innings came to an end.
Clampa and Takady had put us into a winning position with a fine 80-run partnership. But we still had a lot of work to do. At 4-139 and batting to come we now needed for go at 7 an over. We had only been going at a tad under 4 all innings!!
Marcus joined the fray. Takady evened up the equation, taking 4&6 with some change. 13 runs off the 36th meant 5.5 an over!
Now Tigers captain, Sabaorish, is known as one of the classiest bats going but he can also bowl almost as well, and he was a handful already (and had held two catches). With only a handful overs to go we could see he had to make a decision on when to bowl his last. The decision to do so in the 37th paid off. Both Marcus and Asala made the fatal mistake of playing back to the skiddy bowler with a wet ball and a wet pitch. Bang, Bang! Both back LBW. Tigers went berserk. They did, however gift us a couple of valuable byes. 6-155 and back over a run a ball.
Energised, the Tigers nailed Rui early in the next over. Muneeb tap a single and Takady was not done yet, crashing a 4 to get his half-century and adding a 2! 7-162 in the 38th. Twelve in twelve! Two hard hitters in.
Then disaster!! Trying to get on strike Takady was easily run out and poor Yugi was on his way with no addition after one ball. From 3-139 in the 34th we plummeted, Shark-like, to 9-162 in the 39th.
Mahesh in. And as cool as a one his diced cucumbers, he places the ball in a gap for one allowing the equally unflappable Muneeb to slam the ball through covers for four and add 2 for insurance!! Sharks turn to go berserk!
Last over. No wickets left. 5 runs needed. Unable to sit, Sharks lined the boundary rope, ready to take off to the middle to celebrate or to more easily hurl themselves to the wet turf in despair!
40th. A two scampered like mad!! Another two as the fielders frantically try to limit runs but cannot. A dot. And Mahesh or Muneeb – I don’t know, SOMEONE – turns it neatly off his pads towards the tent and we are home with two balls to spare!! Mahesh n.o. 3 and Muneeb n.o. 10. They are duly MOBBED!!
What a fantastic game!
We looked in good shape with Tigers 5-96 and dangerman Sabaorish gone, but a fine 63 by Urminder with lower order support got them to a good total considering the poor conditions. We sent down 8 maidens, some in bunches, which is quite amazing, but even more so that four belong to Yugi! Neel also was stingy in his spell and Muneeb keeps knocking them over!
Two fine 50s, Clampa’s uncharacteristically quiet, but anchoring knock and Takady’s detonation, got us out of a hole and we then prompting stumbled into a deeper one!! But ice-water must run through the veins of ‘Disco’ Muneeb and ‘Mystery’ Mahesh as they knocked off the twelve required with a minimum of fuss but the maximum of pleasure!!
Thanks to Tigers for a great game, playing in trying conditions but with wonderful spirit. Thanks also to the experienced MAX umpires, Kobayashi and Hagihara.
Let’s see if England and New Zealand in the World Cup Final can out-do this game for twists and tension, hey!…. I very much doubt it…. (Ed’s note: Oh, they very much did KB!!!!)