July 03, 2003

Our Innings.....

Chasing 200 in 35 overs is not an easy task....so I asked Phani and Brijesh to take their own time and settle down and then play their shots. The ground was holding up nice and grass was cut low so we could drive the ball....so it was unlike the match against VCC where we had to take the aerial route. Puneet wasnt playing in the game so Phani got his preferred opening slot and he was due for a big knock. Brijesh on the other end was fresh from his 65 in the previous game and was brimming with confidence. I walked in with Raj for umpiring. I am glad that Raj finds umpiring interesting and readily walks out to umpire unlike most of the other members of the team. It was good that we were playing from both the ends as both of us were being invloved in the game unlike most of the places where we play from only one end and the main umpire gets all the action and the leggy gets bored to death. But there is a catch...the main umpire has to make the decisions and has to concentrate a lot but leggy doesnt have to do the same...its easier being the leg umpire...but what ever may be the case I enjoy umpiring but if I am bat soon then I would like some rest too before I got into the middle.

Brijesh started off confidently but defending the balls and he looked good as he hit the middle of the bat whenever he made contact ...on the contrary Phani played a flashy shot and missed outside the off stump...which is sooooo unlike him. The second over was bowled by Dixon...i remember him as he got me out the last time I played them. He has decent pace and has good line and length. He beat brijesh a couple of times and that was the key for the next ball which was picthed up and Brijesh played completely across the line and got bowled!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. That was the first time that Brijesh has failed to atleast stay till the 10th or the 12th over (barring the washed out game where we got to bat only 6 overs). He was very disappointed with that shot and walked back slowly. Hari walked in with a quick trot as usual. He played well in the last match and was unfortunate to get run-out but he looked confident. We had discussed that the HCC guys werent very atheletic and that the field would be deep so we can take easy singles. It is easier said than done but Hari and Phani stuck to the task. Hari's first scoring stroke was a pull shot that fetched him a boundary. In the very next over he slashed outside the off-stump got a thick edge and it flew for a four just outside the reach of the slip fielder. The captain of HCC was visibly upset with the way the things were going and he was shouting at his fielders....which is not a good thing to do. Hari then quickly settled down and played more solidly cutting out all the loose and rash shots. Phani on the other end was looking confident and was middling the ball well so I was happy for him. He was making good calls for singles and his on-drive was the most productive shot initially. The fielder was deep at midwicket so both the players took good advantage of it. They ran pretty fast and they were making good calls for 1's and 2's. Only once there was a misunderstanding but Hari made it safely.Phani was geting tired and complained that he had never run as much before and that he was hungry. I just asked him to go on. Just when I was thinking that everything was going well and that we are target with runs and that both the players are well set....Phani went for a shot across the line and was found in front of the stumps....thats it. I think the wicket fell at 62. I told phani jokingly that he did not cross his previous high score ....19...but I was confident that he might have scored around 23-25....but to my shock he was out for ....18.I asked brijesh to take over umpiring from me as I had decided to promote myself up the order. I asked Avinash to come in and I was getting ready to come in next. Avinash had been playing well in the nets and this ground is perfect for driving the ball so I thought that it will be ideal scenario for him get into runs.

As expected he started off well and with Hari going great guns at the other end we looked at ease. I guess too comfortable....Avinash played two late cuts into gap between the short thirdman and the keeper and was looking supremely confident when a hesistant call from him and a sllight hesitation from Hari ended in Avinash getting run-out. Getting run out is the most painful way of getting out when u are seeing the ball well and when u are playing confidently. I was run-out my last couple times in the middle so I can telll you how it feels. The score read 70/3 in 13 overs when I came into bat. I told Hari "behind the wicket non-strickers call" and he said "yeah yeah". I dont know why I say that but I am used to saying that, I make sure that I tell that to every batsman I am in the middle with. I was on strike and as usual took the leg-stump guard and started off on a confident note by leaving the ball outside the offf stump:):) I was happy. Hari was constantly encouraging me from the other end. I hit the second ball to a four between the deep-midwicket and the fineleg. I like to play on the legside and pull is my favorite and runscoring shot. I hit another four to midwicket fence that one was lucky as I got the ball high on the bat and it went up in the air......luckily for me...it fell in a no-man's land. I was happy that in no time I got to 8!!!!!!!!! From then on Hari asked me to calm down and take ones and twos. He was playing very well and was running hard for every run. At the drinks break we were 102/3 in 17 overs with Hari on 40 and me on 13 (all runs scored on the leg-side). AT the break everyone was hyper and were encouraging us for our good batting. It was probably one of the few times in my time here that I got to play a lot of overs. I usually go when there has been a collapse or towards the end in the run-a-ball situation. so it was a different situation for me. Kiran and Brijesh told us "Finish the game and come back, both of u are playing very well and u dont have to play any rash shots","the runrate is excellent just keep playing the way u guys have been playing". Everyone was saying some encouraging words or the other so it felf good. we were at the half way stage with no risks taken and I could sense a partnership building up between us. Raj wanted a break from umpiring so I asked Phani to come in. when we were walked back the HCC guys were still chilling in the pavilion having cake so it was me, Hari, Brijesh and phani in the middle ofthe field with no-one else onthe field. One of their players came and offered us cake which I and Hari gobbled up. We were hungry as we had not had any lunch. One of their players said jokingly "we are feeding u so that u wont run and will get out" and I retorted "look at the positive side for us, we will get power to hit 6's and 4's" without even expecting that I will be doing the same.

After the break Hari and I decided to cut down all the risky strokes and to keep the ball down...i was trying my best to hold on. In one of the overs I saw a short pitched delivery and rocked on to the back foot and pulled the ball....the ball hit the sweet spot onthe bat (meat of the bat) and it went on and on and all the way for a SIX !!!!!!!!!!. I usually never hit sixes. So i was very excited and enjoyed my shot as it went on to the other side of the road. Brijesh liked my shot too. But Hari came up and said "Look Captain, it was a good shot and the ball was meant to be hit, now u will be tempted to repeat the feat and tend to get more aggressive so control"....I tried to do excatly that....the next couple of ball were almost yorkers and were in the block-hole that just barely managed to dig out. Then we ran three for a shot from Hari which he thought was a four....and then immediately we ran one more three for my shot. Man!!!!!!!! that was very very tiring and in the next couple of overs we ran 1's, 2's, a 3 and even a 4!!!!!!!!!!! yes we ran 4 runs!!!!!!!! U dont get to see that very often in our league. I was literally exhausted. Hari has decided to play the anchor as he saw that I was scoring fast...so he considerably slowed down in his scoring and kept his cool even when he could have gone for the big one. Thats the kind of batting that has to be done by all the other players on the team.....he can hit the ball well but he controlled himself brilliantly adapting to the situation and playing a mature innings. On the other hand I was trying to be cautious but was being tempted time and again to go for the big shots. he got to his fifty......a well deserved 50 . We had even crossed the 50 run partnership in the mean time. We were going great guns. After he got his fifty I went down the pitch and embraced him....I think I have been in the middle only once when my partner got a fifty...that was RAM against WVU last year when we had a 96 run partnerhsip of which I had only 22!!!!!!! but this partnership was much more balanced and we were scoring equally.

The first thing Hari said after getting to his fifty was "now its ur turn to get a 50"..till then i had not even considered the possibility....me!!!!!!!! and a 50 !!!!! . Ihave scored a fifty only once before... and that too in a practice match. So I was all excited and started to play more agressively to get to my fifty....Hari said "I told you abt ur fifty so that u will play cautiously but U are doing the other way around". I hit like 4 fours in the next 3-4 overs and was on 48 when Hari actually that I was on 49. i scored a single and started applauding "well done captain, well done" I realised that I have not yet reached 50 becoz no-one in the audience shouted or clappped so I thought may be one more run. In the mean time we got our 100 run partnership...that was my first century partnership so I was very happy. Then finally I took a single and got to my fifty...for the first time I could actually lift my bat for the teammates and audience to applaud. Its a great feeling. we were 20 odd runs shy of the victory and the ball difference wasnt a lot so I thought I will go for the kill......I hit a four and then tried it once too often when finally I got a top edge off the bowling of the spinner who had trouble me all along. 12 runs were needed and I felt disappointed as I got out when 9 runs needed last year too. I mean it feels good to be there at the end and most of all....it improves ur average:):). I wanted to kick myslef for getting out when victory was in sight. But Hari was in the middle and I had full confidence in him. Kiran came in next and did exextly what I feared.....he heaved across the line the first ball he faced....I would have killed him had he gotten out that way.....to spare me from going to prison he played till the end...even hit a four. Hari was still playing with his head down....thats the difference...I could not control and he could control his temptations. ACtually I was more controlled if u see the number of ball he hit in the air and I did. He even got a life!!!!!!!!! BUt he deserved all the runs he got 65 not out (4 fours). Kiran had 8 runs that also improved his average as he was not out. I had 57 (7 4's and a Six). I was happy with my performance. I wanted Hari to hit the winning the runs as he deserved to do so....but Kiran didnt run the second run on Hari's shot which would be the winning run....Kiran wanted to hit the winning run...Brijesh said "Dekh abhi bowler wide dalega aur kiran ki jalegi" and thats what exactly happpned:):)

Adi, Manpreet, Sunny, Hemant and raj were still to bat and we won by 6 wickets!!!!!!!!!!! Yes we chased 200 in 33.4 overs with 6 wickets in hand!!!!!!! Well done Akron CC. I was in a hurry to finish this post before the long weekend so I might have missed some details but I did the best I could think of........

Have a great July 4th weekend.....

No comments: