Japan Cup – Chiba Sharks vs Tokyo Falcons
Sammu Cricket Ground, 23 June , 2019
By Dhugal Bedindfield
The Sharks recorded their first Japan Cup win of the season against East Kanto rivals Tokyo Falcons on an overcast day at Sammu on Sunday.
It was a significant occasion for both clubs in what was the first “U15-Japan Cup double-header” to be played at the ground. In the morning match the Falcons U15s beat the My-Ys U15s by eight wickets and the youngsters were keen to stick around and watch the big boys in the afternoon.
Family atmosphere is what Sammu is all about so a big “Thank you” also to the senior players from both clubs who were there in the morning to support the kids.
Once the kids had vacated the playing area Sharks T20 captain Marcus Thurgate won the toss for the decided to have a bat but he was soon back in the sheds after an ambitious drive went wrong.
Tetsuo Fuji’s innings was also short-lived, the former Japan captain straining a calf muscle returning for a second run. Or was he hit by a bullet from a Falcons sniper hiding somewhere in the trees? In any case Fuji limped off without having faced a ball. Cricket is a cruel sport sometimes but Tetsuo kept a smile on his face for the rest of the day and had a look in his eye that said he’ll be back in a Sharks shirt soon.
The Sharks luck didn’t improve from there, however, as Takada somehow managed to nick-off second ball and Bedingfield contrived to bottom-edge a ball onto his foot and then onto the stumps. When young Debashish Sahoo departed after chipping a ball to mid off the Sharks were well-and-truly behind the eight-ball.
But the Sharks selectors, knowing a win was vital to the Sharks’ chances of featuring in the East Kanto finals, had planned for this very situation. A cunning plan!
Young all-rounders Neel Date and ‘Jimmy’ Matsumura struck up a partnership and immediately looked assured. Both were able to score freely off the front and back foot but the highlight of the partnership was the running between wickets, both batsmen stealing singles where there wasn’t one and daringly transforming ones into twos.
Both departed late in the innings and it was left to mystery man Mahesh Kumar to finish the innings. A tap to mid off on the last ball of the 20th over seemed rather anticlimactic until the Mystery Man mysteriously ran four! Onlookers were left wondering how the hell he had pulled off his latest mesmerising stunt. (Note: In Sammu T20s this season our bats have now run 6 runs of two taps straight to a fielder at mid off – nice!)
During the innings break The Sharks camp had decided that their total of 127/8 was fairly “ma-ma” or even “bimyou” and that they would have to bowl and field pretty well. There was even talk about bowling in “good areas” but no real consensus on where those areas might be located.
Jimmy Matsumura was the first of the bowlers to pinpoint the aforementioned “good area” on the third ball of the innings, finding the edge of the bat with a perfect out-swinger, the ball coming to rest in the hands of “Buckets” Takada at second slip.
The pressure created by the tight bowling of Matsumura and “Disco” Siddique meant that the Falcons were forced to take the aerial route. This led to a series of catching opportunities that were snapped up by the hungry Sharks fielders. Neel “Hot” Date was the main beneficiary, tip-toeing in to take 3/12 off his three overs. The most important of these was that of captain/danger man Kuldeep Bisht, mysteriously caught on the long off boundary by a fielder suddenly appearing out of the fog.
Further fielding highlights followed. A smart pick up and throw from 12th man Ishaan Faartyal sent the dangerous Mehrohtra packing. Then Debashish Sahoo leaped through the air at mid wicket to cling on to a miscued pull and give young Ash “Sheldon” Thurgate his first Japan Cup wicket of the year. The younger Thurgate proceeded to give his best Sheldon Cottrell salute before firing off a quick Instagram message to the West Indian quick. Cottrell quickly replied, approving of the gesture. If nothing else, social media has brought the World Cup and the East Kanto Japan Cup closer together.
Yet again Sharks fought their way back through good batting and bowling from the young guns, this time R. J. Matsumura and N. H. Date.
Half way through their Japan Cup campaign, the Sharks sit at one win, won tie and won loss. The next match against the in-form Rising Stars promises to be a humdinger so get down to Sammu on July 6th and support the Sharks!
Thanks to the Falcons as always and also to the Rising Stars for umpiring.