June 24, 2003

Our Innings.....

We have been having a long and extended nets for batting...the top order got to bat atleast 3 times during the past week and so I hoped to see a better performance of the batsman than against the Youngstown cricket club. Despite some criticism I went ahead with Puneet and Brijesh as the opening pair.....and Man!!!!!!!! they proved my faith right....I went out as the main umpire and Raj (one of the players that was rested for the game) came in as the leg umpire. Sirish gave me special instructions that I was not supposed to give any LBW's and reminded me that I wasnt Satya Harishchandra or his descendent:):) and I hope I showed my obedience to Sirish's instructions.

Their opening bowler was Rama!!!!!! The same guy who batted brilliantly towards the end of their innings. He was bowling a nice line and length and the other bowler Pavan was also bowling well and was getting a lot of movement off the seam. Puneet and Brijesh survived a lot of LBW appeals in the first few overs. Though I wasnt inclined in giving either of them out the appeals werent genuine so they survived and built the partnership on their merit and not becoz I didnt give them out. It was good to see Puneet playing a mature and subdued innings but he was due to perform so it was good that he curbed all his flashy shots till later in the innings. On the other end Brijesh was brilliant he has been growing in Confidence as the tournament progresses...6 Not out, 16 and today 65!!!!!!!!! That was surely a brilliant and a match winning innings. The partnership was buliding at a steady pace and they were scoring mostly in singles and twos due to the terrible outfield. Some of their shots deserved to reach the boundary but the heavy outfield slowed down the shots and sometimes even killed the shots. In the 4th over Brijesh hit a stuuning straight six and from then on played a sedate knock and concetrated on building the partnership and running between the wickets. We progressed slowly but steadily...that was the key. Both the openers were playing sensibly which set the tone and the big opening stand we got of 55 or 57 runs set an ideal platform for the batsmen coming in as they were not under pressure. I had asked Puneet not to play his coffin ....pull shot...till the tenth over and he religiously obeyed me and to my surprise he pulled the first ball of the tenth over!!!!!!!!!!! But then, he was all set so the ball hit the middle of the bat ...hope Puneet understood why I asked him to do that. Puneet was dropped by the keeper when they just got 50 run partnership. They tried to take as many singles as possible and we could see that both the players were visibly tired. Puneet got out for a good length ball for which he had commited on the front foot and was caught behind.....that was my chance to give him not out but he walked so I had no hand in his dismissal !!!!!!!

In walked Phani...he has been having a horrible time in the middle and it was ideal situation for him to play and get back into form as he had Brijesh at the other end who was playing with immense confidence. His first shot was thru the covers..a brilliant shot...I thought welcome back to form buddy!!!!! But to my surprise and to Phani's shock VCC introduced a leg spinner....i know Phani...he doesnt like playing spinners...neither do I...he fell for the first ball he faced of the spinner!!!!!!! He went for a sweep shot which I have never seen him play and got a top edge which flew to the slip. The fielder took a good tumbling catch and that brough a end to Phani's hopes of coming into form and scoring some runs. Now that Puneet and Brijesh have clicked its Phani's turn in the next match to score some runs.

I asked Hari to come in next and motioned for Kiran and Adi to pad up. Hari looked good in the nets so I hoped he would continue his form in the nets to the game. He started off confidently against the spinner though he had a couple of close calls...a leading edge that fell short of the fielder. Brijesh on the other end was playing spinner with caution. The spinner had a faster ball which he bowled as off-spin. I felt that he was "chucking" the ball....throwing the ball....and I asked Raj who was the leg-umpire to check his action...he agreed with me and I asked the spinner to not to bowl that ball...else we will have to call u for a no-ball. He was upset and started arguing with me but then decided that it was getting nowhere so he chose not to bowl that ball. He was bowling really well and wasnt giving any bad balls to punish. Hari and Brijesh are among the fastest on the team in running between the wickets so they started to pick easy singles and twos and that put a lot of pressure on the fielders. The slowly brought up the hundred for the team......which in itself is an achievement as we had not crossed that mark the previous three times we had batted!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

we needed more than run-a-ball so Hari asked me if I wanted them to hit out.....to his surprise I said no!!!!!!! But he respected my decision and played with his head down. The reason why I was against them hitting out is that they were well set and were playing with confidence so they can continue with this tempo for 3-4 overs more and then we had couple of good hitters down the order who I thought can do the job. Brijesh called Hari for a sucidal single which Hari promptly refused but the fielder misfielded so they decided to go ahead with the run and bowler ran to the ball and threw the stumps down when he had only one stump to aim for. Hari played really well for 27(29). I think they too had a 50 run partnership and probably at run-a-ball. I asked Kiran to come inand I went back to Pad up and Puneet took over the umpiring. Kiran has not been performing up to his potential and he had been getting out to shots which can be avoided if he wanted to. I dont know why he has been trying to hit everything this season last season and the year before he used to play himslef in for an over or two and then start smashing the ball all over the place. All of us know how hard he can hit the ball and how fast he can score but the point is.....he is not apllying himself to stay in and finsh the game. Today I thought he would be more relaxed as he went in when 3 of the 4 previous batsmen clicked and sored more than 20. the bowling was nothing extraordinary. Brijesh in the mean time got to his Fifty that was a brilliant innings. He proved me wrong when I had asked him to go one down when he wanted to open. He has been playing with great composure and confidence at the top of the order and has been the mainstay of our batting this season (including the practice games). Kiran scored his first runs with an effortless flick to the boundary and that raised false hopes in my mind that he will stay till the end and finish the game. the very next over he went for a big heave and got the ball high on the bat and gave a simple catch to the long-off fielder. I dont know what to say......I told him "keep ur head down" but now I guess I need to come up with some catchy line for him to heed my advice...(I am not an accomplished batsman nor I have the technique or power but I can say that when the team is in a precarious situtatiion i try my best not to throw my wicket away).

I sent in Adi who was the star of the last game....he is comfortable with brijesh as both of them like running between the wickets. But that running brought the fall of the next wicket....brijesh was RUN OUT with 46 or 47 runs to get from 7.3 overs. Thats still not bad. I walked in....my strength is running between the wickets as I am a nudger of the ball and i like flicking the ball on the leg-side and run a single and may be two if the fielder is slow. I told Adi "we dont have to hit out as we have a lot of balls to play and we can do it in singles". I didnthave towait for an answer from Adi as i knew what he would say. we were ticking along when Adi got an inside edge and played on to his stumps. That disapointed me as I thought from now it can be anyones game (till then i was confident it was our match)....but I underestimated the potential of the lower order. Manpreet walked in and I told him "behind the wicket non-strickers call and in-front of the wicket batsmans call" thats my standard first line to a new batsman. I asked him to play with soft hands and run the singles. We did that sucessfully. Till in one over I wasted a couple of balls and Manpreet a couple...I was getting restless when Manpreet hit a HUGE SIX over the deep-midwicket boundary. That brough the equation to 26 off 24 balls. From then on we ran some sucidal singles but I asked manpreet to play with soft hands so the fielder has to run to the ball and pick it up and throw it under handed...that gave us a lot of time. the equation was 13 off 13. when manpreet played a defensive shot which I misjudged and ran for a single and realised my mistake half the way thru I turned and ran back but the fielder was very close and got a direct hit and I was Run out once again for being a bad-judge of a single. I need to work on this thing. But my out came as a blessing in disguise to the team as Sunny walked in and did exactly what I was hoping for him to do. He got 4 twos in 5 balls!!!!!!!!! thats it. He made room everytime and wacked the ball as hard as he could...every single time there was only one but Manpreet and Sunny took on the fielder and completed two runs!!!!!!!!! That was amazing running.It cahnged the complexion of the game. we could see it on the faces of VCC players. But Last over was being bowled by RAMA their best bowler...he got two dots and Manpreet got a single and it was 3 off 3 and Sunny got a single it was 2 off 2. we were all very tensed and were cheering very run and shouting out hearts out. The next ball....it was a full toss!!!!!!!! over waist level and Manpreet dispatched it for a Six on the legside and the game was done!!!!!!!!!!! We won!!!! That was the closest game of cricket I was ever invloved with. we won due to the brilliance of Puneet, Brijesh and HAri at the start and Manpreet and Sunny were outstanding towards the end. All in all it was a team effort and even Raj and Guru contirbuted to it raj by umpiring and Guru by taking the field as a substitute!!!!!!! That feels good

I need to get back to work as my advisor has come back from a break......

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