In contrast to what we all were hoping for (the Sun), wind and rain dominated the day. Yet, it didn’t impact the will and motivation to show up and have our first game of the season. Especially playing a familiar and strong side.
One of the welcome surprises was, despite the fact that most were/are on strike, that we had two official umpires available. Even though the umpire level isn’t always up the mark, it feels ‘fair’.In these conditions, the toss is mostly very important. And it proved to be indeed. I lost the toss and we were send in to bat first. We started off well, actually, very well. Zahid malik and Asif Khan have been opening together for two seasons now and they picked it up as were they left it. Zahid a.k.a. Zeddy, found the edge twice which neither the keeper nor slip catcher could hold on to.
A boundary here, a single there and in no time, 50 was on the board. Given the conditions, that was really good. They cruised a long fine until their captain (Nitin bhai) changed their bowler. That proved to be lucky, very lucky for him. An very late inswinging delivery got Asif forcing into the shot just a tad too high and has his stumps shattered. 64/1 after 13.1
Zeeshan Yousuf (Shani) came in to ride on the fairly strong opening partnership to take it further. He didn’t. The bowler bowled the same delivery and same result: bowled. 64/2 after 13.2
Noman Mirajdin, after a late night shift came home at 5 in the morning yet was fit as a cheetah to get in there. Same delivery from the bowler, slight different result: LBW and Hattrick for the bowler. 64/3 after 13.3
Panic (in my head) wasn’t good to express so I tried staying calm. With Saqib Chaudry going in he survived the remaining deliveries and they added a few runs on the other bowler.
This time Zeddy couldn’t resist leaving the bowler alone and tried late cutting the ball. Instead of a boundary, the result was an inside edge onto his stumps. Was the ball there to be hit? Was it swinging? Was he too early? Or was it just one of those days the bowler couldn’t do anything wrong, I guess we will never know. 67/4 after 15.2
Wasim Ismael, without having any practice yet this season, proved experience in these conditions matters. Picking up the pieces their bowler left, Wasim bhai en Saqib build their partnership with rotating the strike and going for quick singles and that my dear friends, is how you change momentum and relieve pressure. Every now and then, a bowler bowls a jaffer (a gem of a delivery). Too bad Wasim bhai was on the receiving end: legcutter pitching in the channel of uncertainty which he tried blocking but just clipped top of off stump. 97/5 after 23.
In the dressing room a few targets were set for todays game: bat the full 40 overs, not get all out. For the smart ones amongst you, you can’t do one without the other.
Pandian (new member) came in and tried to get his eyes in which was the good way to go forward with 17 overs left. Unfortunately, that lasted only 5 balls and got bowled. 98/6 after 24.
I couldn’t wait longer so took my time before going and started slowly walking towards pitch. I knew they smelled blood and wanted to go for the kill. Usually, I take on the challenge but now I just had to stay at the crease and execute the team target. The result: I left a juicy half volley outside off alone and played a total of 4 dot balls before getting off the mark.
This is where sound communication techniques from the partner come into play, Saqib kept assuring me that the runs will come. Good to see that youngster Saqib is maturing. Another partnership was gradually building and the scoreboard was ticking along just fine. That is when Nitin brought back his main bowler with the wickets. A good change for them, bad for us: Saqib bowled. 137/7 32.3
Amir next man is was given strict instructions not to play his natural cross batted shot towards fine leg. Friends not always listen good enough and he said bye bye to me and his stumps. 137/8 after 32.4
Youngster Tayub got to the crease and didn’t care about the scoreboard, just wanted to bat out the overs. Tears of happiness were about to come out but there was no time for that. Rotating the strike, hitting boundaries, running a 3 (I needed an oxygen mask after that, even the keeper said so). It was looking very good until a run taken by my while hitting to gully caused a run out and Tayub had to go. I felt and still feel bad. 163/9 after 37.4.
Zeeshan Choudhry aka Zee came in and we mutually agreed that we would bat out, without scoring runs but wouldn’t go all out. One of us didn’t held on to his part of the deal….a full ball, swinging in, wasn’t blocked but was driven to and he got clean bowled. Not going to say who was out, just saying that I remained Not Out. 173 all out in 38.4
Batting: runs & strikerate
Asif – 33 (106.5)
Abid – 28* (90.3)
Saqib – 28 (60.9)
Zeddy – 22 (50.0)
Tayub – 10 (76.9)
Wasim – 10 (50.0)
After having a very very very short but nice lunch (KNCB changed the rules) we went onto the field, to defend 173 runs. With the Sun out and the field getting much faster, it was going to be a challenge.
Zee and Shani opened the bowling attack and were on fire. It didn’t take long before Shani got their opener “Dande” (= plural for “Danda” (stick) so clean bowled in street-punjabi). 23/1 after 6.
We attacked well but a couple of missed chances and air balls between in no-man’s-land, meant that the openers kept going. The first wicket thereafter fell when Zee was brought back into the attack, LBW. 102/2 after 22.
Still nothing was lost and the bowlers were rotated frequently, so were the batsmen and the scoreboard kept ticking. When they were well in reach, Tayub was given another chance to bowl and pressure straight away, with just 4 runs left on the board. Until the fat lady sings, it isn’t over. Shani got another one out LBW with an excellent ball, left arm around the wicket……a wicket is a wicket. 170/3 after 34.
Still 4 runs left and their main batsman in, Tayub went to his mark and while trying to cut him, he lost his offstump. 170/4 after 35.
With 4 runs to win, the field was brought in a while ago and a flick over square proved how fast our field can be when dry. Over and out, first match lost.
In the end, it was good match with showed our strength and shortcomings. Even though we lost the game, the atmosphere was really good, in and out of the field. Looking forward to the return and hopefully, in the same spirit but different result.
Man of the Match: Abid Malik
(stand in captain)