Erratic. Hopeless. Exciting. Flamboyant. Consistent. Disappointing. There are probably many words to describe Dartmouth Cricket Club’s performance on Sunday against the Boston Colonial Cavaliers. But then some may say that what transpired on Sunday is probably beyond what pen and paper can describe, as forty eight hours later the feeling of almost winning still lingers, a thirst that DCCC is working hard to quench this season. So let’s try. Let’s try to talk about it. Let’s try to relive it one more time and maybe the last time, before we move on again.
It was a day that the gods are known to tailor for cricket. A nice cool breeze graced the Scully Hockey Field, home of the Dartmouth Cricket Club, while the sun peaked occasionally from behind the light gray clouds with no threat of rain or thunder. With Colonial Cavaliers one man short, they decided to take the field, ‘borrowing’ our newest member Ruhin as a full participating player to their team who would essentially bat, bowl and field for both sides. The match started with Dartmouth enjoying the liberal extras that the Cavaliers attack gave away, with both openers looking very comfortable against a seemingly benign attack. The first wicket fell with Rahul trying to capitalize on a fullish delivery and dispatch to the far and beyond, getting caught at deep mid on while just on 7. What came then was one of the finer moments of the match for Dartmouth while they watched potential blossom in Vinay as he played maturely, sensibly and with grace for a fine struck 47 off 37 balls with 6 fours and 2 sixes. His partnership with DCC man of the match Amit laid the foundation for a good total. When Vinay departed, Amit continued his excellent form, punishing loose balls, cutting and pulling and driving his way to a personal best 102 off 63 balls with 14 fours and a huge tally of 6 sixes. Joined by captain Gavin, in the absence of our anchoring rock of a leader Chris, who’s still nursing injuries from one of the best catches taken by a Dartmouth cricketer, Amit accelerated the scoring rate. Gavin scored an amazing 43 off just 26 balls with 4 fours and 2 sixes, and with that the three batsmen had set the stage for the lower order to explode. Unfortunately as history re-scripted an old tale, Govind, Omar, Praveen and Vijayasri despite collectively scoring 31 off 22 balls just couldn’t deliver the final punch and in the end it looked like a pretty ordinary late order effort. Credit should be given to Raj who suddenly found pace and venom to get rid of two top order set batsmen.
DCCC had set a target of 263 off 30 overs and what seemed like a decent total to defend. Gavin led the troops on the field and the first six over, though trying for the batsmen, failed to produce a wicket. Rahul and Vinay produced some exciting deliveries with some typical Rahul inswing and Vinay’s late movement off the seam but Tetley and Raj had good defense. DCCCs intentions were clear. Reduce the boundaries and we can win this game by increasing the asking run rate. The plan somehow looked perfect on paper but despite some decent bowling by the two attack bowlers, the runs continued to leak. Gavin tried the use the pace of Omar but Tetley and Raj immediately changed tactics using defense to survive Omar’s entire pace deliveries except the last of his 2 over spell on which Tetley’s metal based stumps flew off the ground with a one that cut back from off. At drinks the match was even, with Cavaliers 133/1 from 15 overs. The next 5 overs cried murder as Dartmouth bowlers were attacked by Raj and Johan and even Omar’s 4th over was punished in which probably the shot of the day was played, when Raj pulled a good length, speedy delivery moving away from him for a six to wide long on.
By over number 21 the match seemed over for Dartmouth when Colonials were 54 short of victory with 9 overs to spare and 9 wickets in hand. Gavin made an excellent decision decided to go all out and attack with every weapon he had. Rahul was tossed the ball and an over later Cavaliers need 44 from 8 overs. The next 4 overs from Rahul and Omar probably saw one of the most exciting bowling performances of this season for Dartmouth. Omar reared in from around the wicket and dismissed Raj with the ball hitting him plumb on middle and leg. A ball later, he had Hicksie for a duck, again plumb leg before. Rahul swung and varied his length and Ben surviving a shout for caught behind, got cleaned up by Rahul. Next over Omar consistently beat the bat but failed to get more wickets while Rahul bowling his last over, toppled the stumps of Johnny for a duck. Now Colonials needed 40 from 4 overs with their tail exposed. Last chance Dartmouth. Vinay, the only other bowler apart from Rahul and Omar who had made an impression, came to bowl his final over. Johan, the last of the recognized batsmen, the one who was set to steal the match with already a fine, solid knock under his belt, looked over to deep square leg where Omar guarded the wall. First ball from Vinay and Johan attempted to pull it over the boundary, ended up playing a lofted, nothing shot and set up a sitter of a catch to Omar. With that catch, victory was ensured. The hard work Dartmouth had done was going to pay off. They had fought like cornered tigers and the moment was theirs. Alas, there was still work to be done. Omar still had to catch the ball, and like so many before him, keeping the tradition alive, Omar took the honors of dropping probably what will be remembered the most important catch of the season. Not even a second athletic attempt could bring any grace to what he had just done. Johan never looked back and despite exiting 9 balls later, getting bowled on a yorker from Murali, he had already done the damage and scored 33 of the 40 runs needed and the rest was easy picking.
At the end what can be said. Colonials outbatted Dartmouth despite the four dropped catches. They took the opportunities given and went all the home. With that Dartmouth still has questions left begging like who will shoulder the responsibility of the middle overs, why dropped catches continue, why the middle and late batting order continues to fail to convert good starts into massive totals and esp. the promise of Omar and Govind that has yet to deliver, why had Vijay’s bowling continued to be ineffective on home ground and so on.
Having said that there are many positives from the game. This was the first time in the field that Dartmouth fought back like cornered tigers and almost snatched a certain victory from the opposition. Amit’s batting has been a revelation and while Rahul, Gavin and Chris continue to dominate the strength in Dartmouth’s batting line up, Amit quietly continues to play around them and his impressive hundred brought him into the coveted centurion club of Dartmouth. Vinay in the last two games has emerged as a worthy top order contender. Rahul’s swing and his line and length continues to trouble the opposition. An aging Omar, despite gifting the opposition the match with his dropped catch, gave a hint of his old past when steaming, express pace wasn’t the only trick up his sleeve and his figures of 6-0-23-3 at a rate of 3.83 per over in this high scoring match were encouraging. The determination of Praveen, Govind and Vijay and the introduction Murali and Ruhin to the team, all continue to be good signs, while the excellent work and leadership of President Nic continues to bring us games at home and away, making such days even possible.
After the game, Praveen graciously hosted the team at his wonderful mansion like villa. With drinks and snacks and plenty to laugh about, the question was still left answered. How does one describe Dartmouth’s fluctuating day of fortune? But that’s what cricket is all about, right? So then moving on, Chittenden Club, ready or not, here we come.
Today's date: Saturday, October 22nd 2016.