This was a game that almost did not happen until 8am of the day of! With incessant rains on Friday, and more rains predicted on Sunday, there was barely a window on Saturday to play. Though there were scattered thunderstorms expected on Saturday, Dartmouth dared the weather and made the 3 hour journey to Schenectady, NY.
The last time these two teams met was in 2008, and Dartmouth came out 12 runs short in their effort. Dartmouth was ready to make amends, and with a strong showing in Newport, RI a couple weeks ago, the team was confident of a strong showing.
The team was led by Amitavo and comprised of Warren, Apurva, Govind, Saurabh, Prince, Arko, Vinay, Pruthvi, Ajay, and Sujit, with the last 5 making their debut this season. Dartmouth lost the toss (Amitavo on a hot losing streak since last year when he assumed captaincy!) and was asked to field first. Kiran Vishnu and Richie Persaud opened the innings for Tricity. Prince was able to get an early breakthough by snaring Richie for a duck who was caught by Apurva in the long off region. The next batsman in was Mike Persaud. It seemed that while Kiran was going to play the role of the sensible anchor, the others were going to support him. From early on, it was evident that the Tricity players were favoring the leg side, and there were barely any shot on the off side through rest of the innings. After a restrictive spell by Apurva and Prince to start off , Amitavo opted for Arko for his offspin. He started off pretty well, but lost the plot by bowling some full tosses which were promptly dispatched over the leg side boundary by the batsmen. Mike was given a reprive when he tried to sweep Arko but got a leading edge which went swirling in the air, and was dropped by sure hands Warren. It didnít cost costly and Arko had the last laugh. Arko slipped in a fuller one and promptly yorked Mike in his next over. The next batsman in was Faizal Hussain. Another bowling change was called for and Pruthvi came in as change for Apurva. Inspite of bowling changes, Darmouth continued to bleed runs due to bad balls which Tricity was dispatching to the boundary and making it look easy in the process. Faizal tried to up the pace and tried to hoick Pruthvi into orbit, but got a faint edge and was caught by Warren. Amitavo picked up a couple wickets with his off spinners, both stumped by Warren off wide balls! One down the leg side and the other which he pushed wide on the off on seeing the batsman charge down the wicket. Apurva got the final out when he bowled John Persaud with a slower delivery. While none of the remaining batsmen made significant contributions, Kiran was able to score 115 runs to set up an imposing total of 240 for loss of 7 wickets in the allotted 30 overs. An afterthought, Kiran played in India at state level with the likes of Srinath and Dravid.
With the bounce of the pitch true and the ball coming onto the bat very well, as asking rate of 8 runs per over seemed doable, but challenging nonetheless. Dartmouth inning was opened by Govind and Pruthvi. Pruthvi fell soon after scoring 2 runs in the second over trying to pull Mike, but he connected with air, and the ball clipped the top of the middle stump. Ajay was the next man in, which seemed like an unconventional move by Amitavo. Ajay scored a quickfire 11 ,which included 2 powerfully struck boundaries along the ground square of the leg region. He fell lbw while attempting one too many sweeps. But he had done his job ,and allowed Dartmouth not to get bogged down due to loss of an early wicket. Next in was Mr. Dependeable, Warren. Both Warren and Govind were playing smartly and keeping the scorecard ticking with some hard running between the wickets and the occasional boundary to keep Dartmouth close to the asking rate. in an uncharacteristic development, Govind after scoring 21 runs opted to retire hurt due to a dizzy spell. Perhaps his nicotine levels had fallen dangerously as he was seen smoking under the shade once he walked back. Amitavo was the next batsman in. curiously, the Tricity bowlers were bowling their whole quota of 6 overs in a single spell. Both Amitavo and Warren began to milk the spinners for singles and doubles by picking the gaps. They were aided by the fact that none of the home team bolwers could extract any spin from the surface, while earlier in the innings, Arko and Amitavo were able to extract turn from the wicket. Amitavo made a quick 26 before he holed out to long on to a ball which seemed to stop on him and he failed to get the desired distance. Highlight of his inning were a couple lofted cover drives, which he says was inspired by Newport game a couple weeks back. With a deep batting lineup, the loss of Amitavoís wicket was a blimp.
Vinay was the next batsman in. He seemed a bit out of touch as he repeatedly missed balls outside the off stump trying to cut it. With the pressure mounting, he drove along the ground towards cover region and set off for a non existent single. He had advanced too far down the track before being sent back by Warren. But it was too late, and he was run out for 3. Saurabh was the next bastman in, and given his batting display in Newport, RI, nothing less than a win was expected from him. And he did not disappoint a single bit. Saurabh got into top gear bypassing lower gears and very quickly was dealing in boundaries exclusively most of them on leg side. The Tricity bowlers were getting a taste of their own medicine, and the icing on the cake was the fact that they werenít bowling any gimme balls. Warren joined the party briefly but holed out to the long on fielder. By the time he got out, he had made a superb 77 and anchored the inning fabulously with Govind and Amitavo contributing around him. Next in was go big or go home man, Prince. And this time it was go big and go home with a bang version of Prince. Witih 52 runs required off the 24 balls, Apurva was padded up and nervously pacing. He refused to sit down ,and perhaps that helped, as what we witnessed was some terrific hitting by Prince and Saurabh. While Prince showed his power hitting by hitting a 6 over covers and one straight down the ground, both the batsmen showed scant regard for the bowlers.
Saurabh joined the party too with some violent hits to the cow corner. Saurabh ended on 41 not out and Prince on 35 not out with both boasting a strike rate of well over 150. Dartmouth romped home with 4 balls to spare and clinched a well contested game.
Today's date: Saturday, December 20th 2014.