June 23, 2003

In the Midwest Cricket Tournament (MCT) Akron CC (our team) has always done well and atleast made it to the post-season or the playoffs. This year we have had a bad start our first two games got washed out and we lost the only complete match we played. So it was important and necessary for us to win the game on the 22nd of June which was a Sunday. This game was a grudge match for us we had lost to the same team VCC in the practice match...but we werent full strength then as Hari, Puneet and I werent there (not that we are the stars of the team or something but we form a important part of the team thats why I said we werent at full strength but not weak)

Sunday Morning.....

i was tired from attending a friends marriage on Saturday in Pittsburgh as I got back pretty late and went to bed late. I was fortunate to get all the sleep I wanted ....undisturbed !!!!!! ....none of my team mates called me till I was completely awake and that felt sooooooo good. We met at adi's place as usual at 9:20 AM and like usual we had the late comers...we were suppposed to leave Akron by 9:30 and we left according to IST 10:00 Am. I was supposed to go and watch CHALTE CHALTE later in the evening after the game and so was ADi. When some o fthe players learned abt that they wanted to come along too so we took an extra car. we had our oldest fan and supporter....MELISSA .... back but we lost the audience we had in the previous game due to some reason. Oh well thats ok we have played all our matches without audience so we were all set to go. Sunny, Guru, Melissa and Kiran drove the team to the field. Sindhu came along to cheer our team..so we have one more supporter...Man!! our fan base is increasing by the day:):)

Kiran, Sindhu and I were in Kiran's car....Guru was following us as he didnt know the location of the ground...all along the way guru was frustrating Kiran with his slow but steady driving...in short Kiran was well under the speed limit :):) thanx to Guru. we got to the ground at around 10:45 and we saw that the other team ....Cleveland State University Vikings...VCC...were already there. They were all in cricketing whites and were practising ...they had the stumps and the boundary markers in place and looked all set to go. One of the cars came late as it has become a ritual to take a pit-stop (rest room break) before the game:)

I went for the toss....I was on a streak of winning tosses so I went in confidently with Manoj (the opposition captain). I called Tail and it was head so I was very disappointed but Manoj's decision to bat almost made me jump with joy........what a toss to lose!!!!!!!!!!.....we would have fielded anyway so it didnt matter. all of us did some stretching and warm up excersies when Kiran padded up to stand behind the wickets. I had my usual field which by now most of u know abt. I gave the new ball to Sunny and Manpreet (one of the stars of the day)...Sunny started with 4 wides!!!!!!!!! that was a bad start and we didnt want that. But worse was in store for us....he got hit for two sixes in the same over and bowled 2 more wides....20 runs were scored of the first over!!!!!!!!!!!!! that was a disastrous start. there was something wrong abt the field....then some of the players pointed out that the boundaries were really short!!!! After some contmeplation I decided to go ahead with the shorter boundaries as they would be the same for both the teams. manpreet started the second over....the first ball bounced outside the pitch..hit the edge of the concrete pitch and came straight to the me in the slips!!!!!!!! I was caught off-guard and had a bad bounce. the ball hit me on the left forearm.....which is still sore and is still hurting.....I was thinking what a start.....20 runs of the first over and I got hit in the 2nd over........what next??????..

Some of you must be thinking as to why I write such long and detailed match reports....there are 2 reasons...one is that I enjoy writing them and the second is my friend George back home in india...he loves to read such detailed reports and he also gives me similarly detailed instances from his matches.....

Back to the game....

Manpreet regained his composure after 2 wides and bowled really well....I was happy that my move to let Manpreet bowl with the new ball worked!!!!!! But now the question was to either persist with Sunny or to bring in Hari???? I decided to stick with Sunny and hooped that he would get his revenge.....which he did!!!!!! The very next over I sent Hari back onto the Long on boundary which he thought was unnecessary ....the guy who hit Sunny for 2 sixes then tried to do the same but didnt get much bat on it this time around so he skied a catch to Hari who was standing exactly where I had asked him to stand. Sunny was delighted and his confidence was back and I was happy that my move to persist with Sunny didnt back fire:):) After 3 overs they were 24/1. Manpreet was bowling excellent line and length and troubled the batsmen continuously. He is developing into a very good bowler and in him and Hari we have a very dangerous fast bowling pair. Sunny relies on swing, Kiran and the rest of us rely on line and length. Some of the decisions were very close and the umpire (as expected) ruled them in favor of the batsman...one was an LBW and the other was a caught behind.. both seemed clearly out but we respected the umpires decision...this pissed Brijesh offf and he blew the top. I sent him to the long on boundary hoping for his temper to come down...he became unusally quite. Hey Brijesh sorry for that but I had to do it. I took of Manpreet and brought Hari on but persisted with Sunny which surprised a lot of people as he started to tire and was erring in his line....I take the blame for that as I wanted to finish him off so that I can have 7 overs out of my way..we were playing with a bowler short than usual...we usually have 7 bowlers but today we had only 6. I took Sunny off on Hari and Phani's advice and I brought Adi on.

The pitch was completely rought as it was a concrete one with no mat and the surface was not smooth either. it reminded of the floor of a concrete Badminton court on which I grew up learning the sport. The ball was severely damaged and there was nothing left in the ball to shine after the 7th or the 8th over. Hari was having trouble gripping the ball as the seam got damaged as well. he started of with a series of full tosses. he took his time to settle down but Adi was right on the spot from ball one....in his first over he bowled only one bad ball which was dispatched for a four. During this time Hari got an LBW!!!!!!! yes.....the umpire gave a decision in our favor....that was a miracle. The new man in was their in-form batsman who was just coming off scoring a 57 in his previous knock. He looked compact and was a perfect judge of singles. Adi came back with a maiden and that was the turning point of the game!!!!!!! In his next over .....which was the last over before the break...Adi got the man in form brilliantly caught by sirish in the squareleg position....so at the break they were 78/3 in 16.3 overs. Only a couple of overs prior to the break I had shouted in encouragemnt of my team saying "Come on guys lets go into the break with 3 wickets" when only 1 wicket was down.... and I was happy that we did what we wanted to do:):). Some of the guys joked..."arre yaar theen hi kyoun bola paanh-cheh bol diya hota :):)"

After the break Adi and Sirish kept the VCC batsman under control with impeccable line and length for whcih they were rewarded with wickets. Adi got a bowled and an LBW!!!!!!!! wait a minute ....another LBW decision????? whats going on...were we dreaming or was it another miracle??? but we didnt care. Sirish got a wicket for his persistence ...the batsman tried lofting him and Vikas took a one handed (it was supposed to be taken with both the hands but the ball stuck in one hand) and they were reduced to 90/6 or smething like that. Adi was on a roll as his 4 consecutive overs were ....a maiden, wicket, wicket and wicket. he was absolutely brilliant with the ball.Now we had then down and almost out...Thats the most dreaded situation for us as we have been there many times and have successfully blown away all the hard work...and this time was no different....I need to take partial blame for that as I bowled below par and that let them off the hook. But no credit should be taken away from RAMA their 5 down batsman who played brilliantly and scored 45 (41) with 3 sixes!!!!!!!. At 90/6 sirish injured his finger..at that point his figures were.. 3-1-4-1 ..absolutely brilliant figures. I brought myself on to stem the run flow but it went the other way round and I proved very expensive....I wasnt finding my run-up and I bowled 4-5 full tosses and 2 wides. In between all this I managed to get a wicket with a slower ball........yes I think i am the only one that uses the slower ball in the team....I cant disguise it well but I have beaten the batsman many times and i have even got wickets with that ball. I foxed the batsman with a slower ball and he popped a simple catch (which was made to look difficult) to phani. he missed the first attempt and the ball rebounded from his chest and he caught it!!!!!!!!!!! That was infact the only jittery moment for Phani on the field (other than the times when he winced in pain on landing on the injured knee)....he was really good at the Silly mid-pn position. Uncharacteristically he dived for the ball many times and must have saved 8-10 singles on the field (which proved decisive at the end).

I brought Manpreet back in anticipation of stopping the run flow and also getting some wickets...but RAMA was in full flow and they were running for everything and our fielding started to wild under pressure. Except for a few moments here and there...our fielding has been excellent in all the matches so far (touch wood for that)...I am glad that the extensive fielding practices we have are showing results. Then I brought on Hari hoping that he will provide the much needed breakthrough..but he had his worst 3 overs of bowling for Akron. he got hit for some runs and some sloppy fielding didnt help. During one of the plays...the ball was hit to vikas on the squareleg boundary..he twisted his ankle in pursuit of the ball.. and fell right next to the ball after stopping it but he was in soo much pain that he couldnt throw the ball.....the batsman showed no mercy and ran a third run inspite of the fact that Vikas was in great pain...soo much for the sports man spirit. Alll in all they ended up with 171/7 in 35 overs. Not a bad total to chase i thought.ADi finished with 7-1-25-3 manpreet finished with similar figures but was unlucky not to get a wicket 7-1-25-0. Hari and I were expensive with 7-0-44-1 and 5-0-29-1 figures respectively.

we again had sub-way sandwiches for lunch!!!!!!!! we are getting tired of eating only sub-way and desperately want a change in the menu for lunch!!!!!!!! may be a Pizza or taco bell:):)

I have already spent lo of time writing this blog....I will finish the remaining part of the game tommorow till then.....

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