Last Sunday’s game against SUNY Albany was important to DCCC in more ways than one. The match report on the game against BU had a detailed account of how that game was fraught with unseemly behavior on the field leading to low team morale. Of late DCCC had come tantalizingly close to finishing games, only to find themselves undone by a combination of missed chances and a lack of clutch game grit. But more importantly a series of openly personal conflicts had left team members wondering if it was all really worth it. Perhaps it was a classic case of frayed nerves giving way to errant behavior on and off the field. Therefore some of the gray(er) heads decided to finally set things straight by holding team meetings to address player grievances and various other issues. This past Sunday was going to be a test of whether this strategy was going to pay off and there was more than a few nervous faces in the team. But more on that later.
The day started warm and humid and DCCC opted to bowl with Jay leading the side initially, and with Chris taking over after his late arrival. The team was hobbled by a few injuries and had to scrounge for players two days before the match, cutting it close even at the beginning of the match, calling on the services of Vibhor to make up the last bits of the team before the proper DCCC 11 arrived. Omar and Jay opened the bowling and immediately troubled the Albany openers, beating them repeatedly outside the off stump. There was appreciable swing and the new ball was carrying nicely off the mat. Tushar, the Albany opener was the first to depart, playing early to a regulation outswinger from Jay holing out to Omar at mid off. In the next over Omar got one to cock up from back of a length forcing number three batsman Jackson to spoon one to Rahul running back from first slip to take the catch. At this point Dartmouth had their tails up and looked to go on the offensive. However two hard chances were let off and the clichéd glorious uncertainties of cricket swung the match right back in Albany’s favor. Carlton, the jovial and bubbly Albany opener unleashed a torrent of boundaries in one over from Jay and never looked back. Rahul and Vinay on the other hand continued to trouble the other batsman Deepak and were unlucky not to get a breakthrough. Rahul was swinging the ball in prodigiously and both batsmen had trouble reading the line. But eventually both batsmen settled down and set out to form a very solid partnership. Carlton was the prime basher with Deepak playing a patient second foil. Vijaysri finally ended Carlton’s run by inducing him into an expansive loft but not before he had blazed his way to a well earned hundred. Thereafter the next few batsmen Ansar, Zohair and Neelesh took their time, settled down and proceeded to take the score to a very respectable 293. Omar and Rahul both finished with two wickets apiece.
The sizeable total meant that Dartmouth had to score briskly without losing wickets. This was a tall ask considering that the players had just come off a grueling 30 over stretch. Rahul and Jay opened and the strategy was for Jay to drop anchor while Rahul went on the offensive. Dartmouth were off to a flyer as Rahul came down heavy on the opening bowlers and started with a flurry of boundaries. At one point Dartmouth were 35 in 3 overs out of which Rahul had 19 off 8 balls. The Albany bowlers, looking for extra pace, sprayed the ball around. Then, misfortune (for DCCC) intervened and Rahul was beaten for pace and lost his wicket to a nippy in-cutter from Ansar. Shortly afterwards, a moment of indiscretion cost Jay his wicket as he wafted to a harmless drifter outside off. Amitavo’s recent run of form succumbed to the law of averages as he bottom edged after scoring a single and this meant the Proteas band of brothers Gavin and Chris had to come to the rescue. Gavin grew in confidence with every ball, especially considering a long hiatus from the game. Chris on the other hand was playing sensibly despite obvious physical discomfort. After Chris’s departure Gavin was joined by Vinay and the two took the fight to Albany. Vinay’s batting was a revelation – playing late and getting behind the line – he did everything right and punished the loose balls. Gavin was also getting into the act when he played across the line and was cleaned up. He had played a gritty innings and should be heartily commended for it but he would have been better off without the momentary lapse of judgment when he kicked down the stumps in frustration. The game by now was slipping away from Dartmouth but the rear guard action taken by Omar, Pravin, Govind and Murali was admirable. Everyone got to double figures in the face of some tight bowling and showed how capable a batsman they could be.
All in all Dartmouth was outplayed in this match inspite of Govind’s supplications to the cricketing Gods. However the team spirit that was missing in the last few games seemed to be back and the players seemed to be enjoying the game again. I started out by saying that this game was important in that respect and I am positive that despite a few hard losses this season the team has a lot to look forward to!
Today's date: Friday, April 18th 2014.