June 16, 2003

I am back at my lab after a disappointing weekend of cricket....well for all those people who werent at the game.....we lost..lost prettyy bad...the only good part of the whole thing is that I am not sore today...unlike the previous match...but if we win everyday I am sore then I would rather have it that way:):)

The morning started with a phone call from phani waking me up at 8:15Am!!!! can u believe that people dont even let you sleep even on a saturday...he asked me abt the ground conditions in Youngstown!!!!!!!!! where the match was going to be held...I called the captain of YCC (Youngstown Cricket Club)..he said it was in good shape it doesnt rain that day....I told that to phani and I thought I will be able to get some more sleep...zzzzzzzzzzz.....but then my team had decided (i guess)...not to let me sleep peacefully....in less than 5 mins Manpreet calls up..."Is there a match today?"....I was irritated....but still replied.."Haan re..come to adi's house at 9:15". I pulled myslef out of the bed and got to adi's place at 9:20am. As usual I saw only 4 people there and then the people started trickling in....the most encouraging part of the morning was that the 4 players who werent in the playing 11 showed up and came to the game with us.....Hemant,Guru,Vikas and Sirish.....thanx a lot guys...we need to keep that team spirit going...thats what I call team work.

we left the place after making sure all the drivers had directions for the ground....I had hemya,vikas and Manpreet in my car...we listened to some remixed music and we got to the ground first!!!!!!! I thought we would be the last to get to the ground as we made a couple of stops....soorry hemant had I known that I would have stopped at McD's for ur breakfast. Anyways, we got to the ground and were suprised..amazed ....what not looking at the beautiful outfield and most of all a.........CRICKET PITCH!!!!!!!!!!...........we had never played on a proper pitch....our pitches are usually concrete with a mat on it...so we were all excited..the outfield was soggy at the long-on and long-off boundaries...but other than that it was an excellent ground...the skipper of YCC and I decided to wait for 30mins before the start of the match for the field to dry.......that triggered a multi-sport show by Akron CC....yes all the guys started playing soccer,football,frisbie....and what not....i guess the YCC guys must have thought do these guys play cricket???

I won the toss!!!!!!!!!! I am on a winning streak...I have won 2 in a row probably for the first time:):) I had no doubt in choosing to field....I padded up to take the position of the keeper as both keeper and stand-in werent completely fit to keep. I placed my field as usual....slip,point,cover,short mid-off,wide mid off,wide mid on,short mid-on,square-leg and thirman/fineleg. I asked Adi to field at the thirdman position....the most dreaded position as it involves a lot of running and basically...its boring..I make sure that I change the player fielding in the thirdman position so that he is not bored to death....it was brijesh in the later half of the match....till last year I used to place one of the weaker fielders there..but this year it has suddenly developed into a specialist postion...u need to have a good arm and u should be able to cover a lot of ground.

Kiran started with the new ball as usual..he started off with good line and length....he made the batsman play the ball and suddenly pitched one short of good length...that did the trick!!!!!....the batsman reached for the ball and popped a simple catch to Phani at Short mid-off. we had them 0/1.....we had the perfect start once again.....now we had a challenging task at hand...a lefty and a righty in the middle....its challenging becoz the field has to keep on changing every time the batsman on strike changes....thats very irritating to the fielding side...but our team did a great job of switching the field very very fast....we actuallly practiced doing that once during the nets and that has helped in letting the fielders know which way to move and whre to stand for a righty and a lefty.

Come second over...Sunny...our swing boy...started...today he wasnt able to swing the ball at all...being the keeper I could see it alll....one more thing that I noticed and Kiran pointed out later...was that Sunny was unusually slowing down at the point of delivery...he literally stops and then delivers the ball!!!!!!!!!!!!!! he never does that in the nets....so probably thats an area of improvement....he was hit for a straight six and later for a four...hmmmmmm...he was annoyed with himself. Hey, but that happens in a match...somebody is bound to hit so somebody has to be hit and it was Sunny that day....

I made my first bowling change by replacing Sunny with Hari in the 10th Over....he is our fastest bowler...but the batsman had already played themselves in and were comfortable with him too....Kiran was bowling with good control and pace from the other end.....I was contemplating whether to persist with him and finish him off or to bring Manpreet/Raj in....I decided to keep him on as he said that he was comfortable and wasnt tired....so he went on to finish his spell and I was glad that he said that he could bowl his last over....he got the crucial break through for us....he uprooted the middle stump of the well set batsman....the batsman for some weird reason all of a sudden played across the line got out....well...no complaints abt that. The team was alll excited and there was lot of shouting......Between all this somewhere in the 8-9th overs ....our cheering squad arrived!!!!!!!! yes, for probably the first time we had 8 people (4 players and 4 girls who had just arrived) cheering us from the pavilion. Sapna,Madhu,Priya and Raasi came all the way from Akron to watch us play and to cheer us.....thanx a lot ....we appreciate ur coming. Kiran almost got the lefty out when he slashed straight to point i thought it went over manpreet but he leaped and made a brilliant effort in getting his hand to the ball...unfortunately the rebound was a bit far so he couldnt latch on to the catch else it would have been a brilliant catch. During this perios Avinash got hurt and left the field and Hemant came on as a substitute fielder.....in my three yrs at Akron I dont remember having a Substitute fielder....we always had only 11 people travleing....and now we have quality players as reserves for the match...that feels good....I mean Hemant and Guru were brilliant on the field against ECC and to have them as our reserve fielders gave a big boost to the team!!!!!!!!!!

Raj came into the attack..he was a debutante....he got a wicket in his first over!!!!!!!! whats with Akron CC and debutants???? they always do well:):). he got the well set lefty who was playing well. He asked Adi (Man of the Day) to move back and stand at Deep Sqaureleg and pitched the ball short and the batsman fell for it. He pulled the ball which most of us thought was a six or a 4 but Adi had other thoughts....he ran along the boundary and took an outstanding catch just inches away from the boundary.......he stood there like a statue for the umpire to come and verify his postion....when then umpire was satisfied with the catch everyone was jubiliant and ran to Adi and hugged him. Raj was all excited...ofcourse he woule be...it was his first wicket. Then in the last over before break....the batsman played a shot over long on in Raj's bowling...which we thought went past hari but leaped high and backwards and caught a brilliant catch.....raj got his second wicket!!!!!!! we took drinks. During all this Hari was bowling impeccable line and length and was simply unplayable....I would say that he was very unlucky not to get any wickets.....at the break I took off the keeping pads and asked Kiran to take over...I didnt have a bad day behind the wickets..i feel I am getting better as I am anticipating the ball and was collecting the balls down the legside...I didnt give away any byes so the bowlers were happy tooo...alll in all...I had a good day (though my clothes got dirty). Couple of times i ran down to the thirdman boundary from the keepers position and that felt good...I always saw that on TV and wondered how they did it...now I can say I did it.

After the break I introduced Manpreet and Adi into the attack and that paid off immepdiately as Manpreet had 6-0-11-3 and ADi 2-0-4-1. those were tremendous figures and they brought was back into the match. manpreet started off with 3 wides and i thought two more and he would be out of the attack.....but then he found his runup and bowled brilliantly....we had then 93/8...we thought of getting them out for under 100....so brought Hari and myself on......the lefty they had was playing very well and the other guy was very very irritating...he was unbelievable lucky...he played and missed and popped up catches in no-man's land.....finallly i had him caught at short cover....he popped up a catch of a short ball and Raj took an excellent one handed diving catch....then I got the lefty bowled when he shuffled across his stumps.....we got them for 118!!!!! thats no bad at all considering the batting line up we have...now that Phani and Puneet were also at the top of the line-up..............oops...i spoke too soon..I finished with 4.3-0-11-2...not bad !!!!!!!! and Hari 7-0-22-0...identical to the last match ...

At the break we were fooling around with the impression that we had the match in our hand.........we had sub's for lunch....I think...subway should be approached to be one of the sponsors for tournament:):). the cheering squad was all hyper and they were saying good things abt us on the field. It felt good.

Brijesh and Puneet went out to the middle and in the first over we got 4 wides and Brijesh hit an excellent pull for a SIX...we had 10 from the first over..I thought....its going to be a cake walk with...phani,Hari,Kiran,Avinash and the rest of us to come in. But what happened in the next over set the tone for the reminder of the match....Puneet took strike the next over....first ball was a no-ball and he middled it and I thought he is back. The next ball he tried his coffin shot...I say coffin....becoz he always gets out to that shot...he tried to pull the ball got a top edge and was caught bythe bowler himself!!!!!!!!! How many times have we seen this happen????? And now its just the second over and puneet was back in the pavillion. In came Phani and started off well... brijesh on the other end was playing with supreme confidence.....then phani played forward for a goodlength ball and was beaten all end up...it even beat the bat...but the ball brushed the pad on its way to the keeper and all of us thought it was a snick....phani walked away from the stumps....umpire thought that the batsman was walking back and gave him out....phani turns around and sees that the umpire has given him out!!!!!!!!!!! he was shocked!!.....wait a minute...u thought he walked so why is he shocked.....he was walking towards the squareleg to get his composure back!!!!!!!! well, i favor the umpire for the decision and blame the batsman for the dismissal. in came hari....our new find of the season....he was playing well and brijesh was brilliant in the middle...the score was ticking along....YCC started questioning a lot of calls from the Umpire and the situation was getting heated in the middle so I asked Raj to come back and sent Puneet into the middle to umpire....the very next ball Hari was bowled reaching for a ball ......hmmm that was trouble.....then I sent in Adi on advice from kiran and that proved to be a master stroke as he stayed there almost till the end and battled it out when the other batsman threw their wickets. He made batting look so easy that most of us wondered why the other batsman got out. brijesh who was batting well till then got a close call on a LBW decision and we considred him to be lucky but in the very next over he was found in front of the stumps again....he was out for 16.....he was playing well but the fall of wickets put a lot of pressure on him. Avinash had played well in the off season games last year and is yet to find his form this year so I thought with such a low total and lots of overs to play its an Ideal situtation for him to go in.

Adi was comfortable playing in the middle...he showed application which was lacking in the rest of us.....knowing Adi I could easily tell that he was controlling his natural instincts of hitting the ball on the legside. He was leaving the balls outside the off stump and played a really matured innings. Avinash on the other hand was having a miserable time in the middle. He was trying to reach the ball and he was lucky that one of his shots landed in a NO MAN'S LAND. But he was living by the edge and it was just a matter of time before he go out. He has this tendency of trying to play the ball on the legside even if the ball is outside off stump.....he popped one of those shots and had a soft dismissal.......In came Kiran...our big hitter....i consider him to be one of those guys who can turn the match in a matter of few overs....but the key was for him to stay in the middle for those few overs. He heaved and missed one of the balls and our hearts pounded very loud for that instant. In the same over he lofted a ball to the mid-on and to our relief the catch was dropped. I was highly irritated that considering the precarious situation an experience batsman like Kiran should be making a better shot selection. The very next over kiran played a flick in the air and the fielder on the squareleg boundary made no mistake in gobbling the catch. There went our last recognised batsman I thought...all the people who i thought would play sensibly could not curb their natural instincts and played extranagant shots and let the team down. The batsman reading this draft may get angry with my descriptions but I am just putting my thoughts as a Captain into words and there wont be a happier person than me if their performances in the next matched make me eat my words.....prove me wrong...!!!!!!!!!

I walked in with 6 wickets already down and we were in the 16th over and the score read 45!!!!!!!! I never thought that it would come down to that. Well, now that I went in the first thing Adi tells me "saala, yeah batting bahut boring hai yaar I want to hit". But i knew what he meant by that. We decided to cut down on all the aerial shots and run ones and twos. Our partnership brought hope to the team and we were running hard and fast. we put on 25 in 8 overs....not bad considering the situation. Adi was playing really well and I was middlling the ball and seeing it well. I was feeling confident abt my batting after a long time. Then i got out the only possible way ....RUNOUT..........Adi flicked the ball on the legside and I ran as hard as I could expecting the throw to be wide but to my disappointment the throw was right on the stumps and I was found short of the crease by a foot...............I was sooooooooooooooooooooooo angry with myself......for being such a poor judge of the run. I had made only 11 but probably the most confident 11 runs i had made in a long time. Manpreet walked in and immediately ADi was caught behind and he was out at last for 21.....yes he was there for a long time but scored only 21 becoz he got most of his runs in singles.....u must be thinking whats the big deal abt making 21 and 11....in international cricket people make 100's ...but u will realize the effort it takes and the skill only when u pad up and go into the middle. Sunny walked in and i hoped that he would hit some lusty blows...but he got RUNOUT too....Manpreet on the other end was taking 1's and 2's. Raj ...our last man and debutant...walked in and hit the first ball he faced over the long off for a couple...but in the same over Manpreet popped a catch and we were all out for 89!!!!!!!!!! yes only 89!!!!!!!!!! the result we LOST by 29 runs!!!!!

I think I have spent a lot of time...3hrs writing this draft so I will stop here....

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