Not too hot, not too cold, but a bit too sunny. You wouldn’t have a better climate to play cricket (unless you were a swing bowler who wants some clouds). Every player came on time to SICG and were ready to take on Wyverns for a two in two victory in JCL first division. There were a couple of concerns though. One was Tomizawa. Known as Japanese Shinkansen “Nozomi”, ex-Shark Tommy had changed teams to Wyverns. Was it because of his lack of English skills? Was it because he wanted to bat higher? Who knows. Another was our loss of Pave. He was our one down batsman for quite a while, and witnessing his rapid half century last match, we felt we had to bat good to fill in the hole. Our players (in batting order) was skipper Dhugal, Neel, Arjun (new for 1st Ⅺ), Arata, Takady, Asala, Marcus, Rui, Muneeb, Yugi, Mahesh, and Deba for 12th man. Doogs won the toss, and as usual elected to bat first.
Same as last match, Dhugal and Neel made a solid start with the bat. Against quality pace bowling from Japan national Kubota and Shinkansen Tommy, they played positively and sensibly. Respecting the good balls, they pounced on anything loose. The ground was small and fast, and combining that with plenty of extras, the run rate was around six an over. Neel looked solid as rock until he spooned one to the fielder. Our new number 3 was Arjun, who showed his ability in the seconds. He played very attacking, including a straight shot right over the bowler’s head for 4. He was caught behind on the 10th over. 2-60.
Arata came in and showed intensity, but he swung his mighty bat once too much, caught at long on. Here comes Takady. I have never seen him play as aggressive as he did that day. He looked confident from the start, and with Dhugal playing fluently as usual, they built a partnership worth 16 overs and 116 runs. On the way through, both the batsman passed 50, which was very pleasant to watch. When Takady finally departed for 53 on the 27th over, the score was 4-192. Next batsman was Asala. He didn’t have his best season last year with the bat, but it looked like he had a nice break in the winter. He smacked his first ball straight for 6. 30 overs had past and 208 on the board. Dhugal was ice cool until he was dismissed for 82 by Kubota’s slower ball. Asala and new batsman Marcus kept the scorer busy, both playing big, strong, and entertaining shots. Every ball pitched short or full just seemed to race to the boundary. They lifted the score over 250, and some effort of the tail enders made our final score 9-284.
We had a good score on the board, but the small and fast ground meant we couldn’t let our guards down. As same as last time, Rui and Muneeb opened the bowling. They both got to a good start, sharing 4 wickets in the first 6 overs. Muneeb was the main striker. His first spell was a premium one, showing off his bowling ability and his “Hasan Ali” celebration. The score was 4-40 at the 10th over.
However, Shogo Kimura and Tommy played nicely for over 20 overs. You have to give credit to both the Wyvern’s batsman. They rescued the ship with sensible shot selecting, defending the good balls but punishing the bad ones. We had a hard time with the ball, but no one let their intense down. Being patient, we continued to build pressure and the required run rate rose and rose. Even though we couldn’t earn a wicket, every bowler kept challenging the batsman by attacking the stumps. At the 27th over Neel finally got Kimura out, making him hit straight to Takady’s (safe?) hands. Dhugal got Tommy the next over, thanks for Muneeb’s great low catch. Muneeb also ran out a batsman the very next over, and the score on the 30th over was 7-170. After the break, Wyvern’s senior Buddhika showed some powerful batting, smacking 22 runs off an over. However, that was their last resistance. Mahesh and Rui wrapped up the innings, taking the last few wickets.
So, that’s it. We bowled them out on the 35th over for 206. A match full of runs. Innings of Doogs and Takady, and insane batting of Asala and Marcus was our key factors, but I guess Muneeb’s early three wickets made Wyverns play more defensively. They looked very talented, and we couldn’t have won without the effort every player had put down. Special thanks goes to 12th man Deba who came all the way to Sano, and the umpires too. Looking good Sharkies, let’s keep it on!