Winners learn from the past and enjoy working in the present towards the future. That’s what DCCC did after their previous fiasco and clinched an amazing hair standing victory against Chittenden County Cricket Club (CCCC).
After playing several warm up matches against Tuck, DCCC were all set to play their first away match for the season against CCCC. The playing conditions were perfect, i.e. great sunshine with smooth breezes. CCCC pitch is a flex plastic mat laid over a somewhat uneven surface and this early in the season the mat was not firm as the grass has not yet grown through. Hence batting at this most unpredictable pitch was a concern for DCCC. Any score of 80-90 runs was a defendable score. But this time DCCC was more confident regarding its batting with likes of Jay, Chris, Amitavo and Prince, who were absent from the last game.
DCCC lost another toss and were asked to field. Jay and Vinay opened the bowling attack for Dartmouth as they both swing the new ball. The bowling was tight for the first 5 overs not giving the batsmen enough room to go for any shots. After 5 overs CCCC had 22 for no loss. This was a good foundation and it seemed that both batsmen, Kader and Omar were getting settled and started playing scoring shots. With the last ball of the 6th over, Vinay got the first break through with an out swinging delivery and Kader was caught behind by Govind. Finally the tap of wickets opened. In the 7th over CCCC’s new batsmen Ahmed got run out without facing a ball.
Miral was brought into the attack in the 8th over and at first struggled bowling a couple of full tosses but corrected his mistakes to pitch the 3rd ball on a perfect length. It was clear that he would be tough to play if he gets it in the right place. And then a beauty - a perfectly pitched delivery clipped middle stump of CCCC’s set batsman, Omar. This will turn out to be a crucial wicket in the match.
Next in was Gerry who played a serious of risky shots that somehow kept missing the stumps and was lucky to be around after the over was up. CCCC’s star batsman Mani, who had always unsettled Dartmouth, was next to bat. Miral pitched an excellent in swinging ball right on the line of the off stump which swung in and hit Mani on the pads right in front and after some thought by umpire Ahmed, he was judged LBW without scoring. CCCC were now 35 for the loss of 4 wickets. Next over, DCCC’s experienced bowler, Omar K. clean bowled a strange looking Gerry on the day and CCCC really started showing signs of feeling the pressure.
CCCC’s following two batsmen, Salman and Pradeep played carefully and defensive for two over as Omar and Miral bowled wicket to wicket on a perfect length. Both bowlers boxed in the batsmen forcing them to play shots and making mistakes. CCCC’s experienced player, Salman was taking cheeky singles as he knew that each run was very crucial. Unfortunately that also caused Pradeep to get runout with excellent fielding by Omar and Govind around the 10th over. In the 12th over, Miral clean bowled Khurram with an excellent yorker. Then DCCC’s second left hand bowler, Prince was brought into the attack and he produced an excellent line and length spell, giving no chance for the batsmen to score runs. The pressure just kept mounted and eventually CCCC’s remaining batsmen Salman and Karthik got it wrong and produced another run out. Omar wrapped up CCCC innings by bowling the last remaining CCCC batsman, Khuram.
CCCC were all out for a dismal 58 runs in 18.2 overs of the scheduled 30 overs. Finally, Dartmouth’s bowlers produced an exceptional bowling and fielding performance that placed them in an excellent match winning position.
Now it was Dartmouth’s chance with the bat. DCCC had a strong batting lineup on paper and the strategy was to stay at the crease as long as possible and base the batting around Jay, Chris and Amitavo. After some discussion captain Chris and vice captain Amitavo asked Jay and Govind to open the DCCC’s innings.
CCCC’s star bowler of the previous game, Salman started their bowling attack with the usual pace and accuracy. With only the second ball of the innings, Jay received an unexpected rising delivery and instinctively steered the ball to gully where Mani took an excellent single handed diving catch. Jay was out for a duck off 2 deliveries.
DCCC’s captain, Chris now had to face Salman. Chris was very careful and defended well to see through the over. The first ball of the second over Govind played his first ball from Mani aggressively into the covers for a single. Chris was up to against old time rival, Mani and was beautifully beaten by an excellent late swinging ball that somehow missed everything. The next delivery Chris mistimed a leg glance getting a leading edge that gave a simple catch to short mid wicket who hung on to it. At this time the score were 2 wickets down for only 1 run with Chris also scoring a duck off 6 deliveries.
Next in was Mr. Consistency, Amitavo. Mani produced another perfect late away swinging delivery that squared up Amitavo and ever so slightly nicked the ball that was caught behind by Pradeep. This left the score at 1/3 with Jay, Chris and Amitavo (0/0) back in the pavilion. At that time it seemed like a repetition of the poor batting performance of the previous game against CCCC, but at least then DCCC scored 33 then.
Prince and Govind now had to face a confident and fired up CCC bowling attack in Mani and Salman. But these two batsmen had other plans. The very next over Prince drove Salman hard straight for three runs. This was the turning point in the match. At the other end Govind was getting settled and started taking singles too hitting a great cover drive boundary in the 5th over. This left-hand right-hand combination proved difficult for the bowlers. Prince’s attacking playing style somewhat demoralized CCCC’s bowlers and as the scoreboard kept ticking. After 7 over’s DCCC were 28 for the loss of 3 wickets. A great recovery!
CCCC introduced their new spin bowler Omar who Prince hit for 2 fours off the very first two deliveries. But with the last ball of the over Prince tried a pull shot; the ball stayed low and shattered the stumps. Prince scored a fantastic 22 (16) which was almost half of the target needed to win.
Vinay was in next and had to face Mani. Vinay seemed tentative with his first stoke and was bowled the second ball playing another somewhat tentative and “lazy” stroke at a well pitched excellent delivery. With the score at 39/5 needing only 20 runs, Vibhor came to the crease. With Govind, these two batted very sensibly and scored crucial singles waiting for the loose balls. Vibhor played a watchful innings and scored 7 off 22 deliveries before he was caught at mid-on trying to force the pace. Dartmouth were 53/6 wickets and needed only 6 more runs to win with 3 wickets in hand. Miral joined Govind at the crease.
Gary bowled a wide delivery giving DCCC one extra run and bye off the same delivery – 55/6. Govind wanted to wrap up the innings and played a cracking drive very low strait down the pitch but it only made it as far as Gary who brilliantly caught him off his own bowling. Wow – the heat was now really on. Govind played an excellent match winning innings scoring 17 fantastic runs off 36 deliveries. Most importantly Govind was the only batsmen that stuck around when Dartmouth were in serious trouble.
With the score at 57/7 and needing only 2 runs to win (1 to tie), Miral was given plumb LBW by umpire Chris with Omar K. just watching at the other end. Dartmouth’s last batsmen, Bhavya, an unknown player who happened to pass by the field that morning and ended up filling a spot in the DCCC team, found himself batting in the tightest of spots one can possibly imagine. Omar K. could also just stare from the other side and hope for the best as he was off strike without having had the strike. Bowler Omar bowled delivery that was left just outside off. The next delivery was a wide delivery and the scores were tied. One could see the relief on batsman Omar’s face expressing the DCCC’s feelings. At last we are not loosing after what seemed at 55/6 to be an easy victory. Bhavya though still had to face three deliveries. He survived a huge appeal for caught behind. Well done Bhavya!
The next over Omar had to face Gary. All CCCC’s players were inside the circle to try and save the single. Omar carefully defended the first 2 deliveries and then scored the winning run angling the ball to the gully region as the batsman scampered through for the single. WOW – what an ending.
Thanks to an excellent bowling and fielding performance by all the bowlers lead by Omar and Miral, and an outstanding batting performance by Govind and Prince, DCCC was victorious at last at the hosts, Chittenden County Cricket Club’s back yard.
Today's date: Sunday, February 19th 2017.