Saturday, September 4, 2010

What a performance

While this match didn't exactly go as planned, and for the first time this season we actually got beaten when we were winning easily, it was one of the best matches we have been apart of. In fact it was absolutely spectacular.
Since the start of this season we have had some spectacular games and each time we have a great match we think it's not going to be possible to top that. All those matches we have won easily. Not so this time – and yet it was the best match of them all.
Those of you who were with us last year will recall the match we played where we needed an outright win to get ourselves into the semifinals. We needed about 24 runs off two overs and we got there with balls to spare. That match is etched deeply in the memory of the boys who were there. Well, we now have another match that tops that, believe it or not.
And with matches like that, it doesn't matter whether you are on the winning or loosing side, as long as you were a part of it. Or so they say. You be the judge.
This last match had the same ingredients of the India-Australia series – the one where Laxman and Dravid played beyond their skins and turned the series around. Our opponents were the number 2 side in the grade and they showed us why. We were lacking a number of our senior veterans who have refused to come off their strike. Missing in action were Nirav, Prasad, Rajitha, Chani (who appears to have been deported) and Rajiv who has yet to come back from his fishing trip.
Our opponents started the first day by batting and batting well. We got occassional wickets but they had regular partnerships and kept the scoreboard ticking. Lasith did the most damage with the ball along with Aneesh getting some good swing and line. But the bowling and fielding were nothing to write home about. If anything, half the guys wanted to go home after having to chase leather on a pretty hot day – they were not scoring fast, but they were not getting out easily. We did however inch towards their last man.
To top it off in this merry season, they sent out Santa Clause at number 11. He was in a jolly spirit and proceeded to hammer a few shots. He needed his elfs to help him get from one side to the other. Ricky finally went to Santa and made a wish. He asked Santa to promise to make it come true. Santa agreed. He then asked Santa to get out so he could bat. He did. They ended on 238.
We had only 4 overs to see out at the end of the day and no one wanted to bat because everyone was dead tired. Lasith agreed not to bat cause he was going to Lanka the next week and thought it better that Rajitha bat on the second week instead. So Stanley took Las’ opening spot.
On the way out, Stanley said he’d take the strike. He wasn't kidding. In four overs we scored a total of 70 runs! The other opener only scored 2 of those runs. The opposition were all either on the boundary or hiding behind trees.
Baner who had shown up at the grounds to support us agreed to do some umpiring and he was calling the pavilion on his iphone for a helmut. Stanley had taken his AK47 out to the middle again and was spraying bullets left and right. It was a good end to the day. We now had to only chase 168 the following week.
The following week came and we went back out to bat. Stanley picked up where he left off and we had 147 on the board in less than 15 overs. He passed his 100 before everyone had realised. The other opener had made it to 4 at this stage.
During this rampage, Santa got a bit worried about Stanley accidentally knocking one of his elfs out of the sky and approached our bench. He said that Stanley should not be playing in this grade and should be playing at the SCG. Then we lost a wicket. Not that it made a difference because Stanley was still out there. So with less than a 100 runs to get, it looked like a walk in the park.
Eventually Stanley got out and at that stage we needed another 60 odd runs. On the way back, Santa shook Stanley's hand and told him that he was waisting his talent in this grade and should play somewhere else. As a team we agreed that this Santa was definitely waisting his talents and should be our next ambassador to Iraq, where he will surely find a diplomatic way to tell Osama where to go.
Everyone agreed that it was so easy that they left it to the next batsman to do until of course we ran out of batsmen. It didn't help that one of Sam's best students was umpiring and he was firing his finger left and right – all it took was a bird to chirp and he was sending batsmen back. One of their bowlers – a spinner – ended up with seven wickets.
We ended up 20 runs short. The time was about 3.30. We had sent a couple of the boys to the store and they had come back with supplies – sausages and cheap beer. We all patted each other on the back and said bad luck, let's celebrate. But before we could open the beer and get the barbie going we saw our skipper shake hands with the other skipper and run back to tell us we’re going to have to field again.
This didn't bring out the best in the guys. Nevertheless, we did a few stretches and headed out into the hot sun again.
Their openers came out slowly and shut shop immediately. They refused to play at anything and we could not for the life of us figure out what their plan was. We thought their skipper was going for an outright win by sending their batsmen out again, yet these guys were not looking to even score the byes that were on offer.
So we asked them what the plan was. They said they had no plan and were wondering what our plan was. It then got revealed that it was our skipper who had wanted to play on, not theirs. Unfortunately only he knew what the plan was and was not going to share this with anyone else. He then told the batsmen that we would bowl another three overs and call it a day. That got everyone excited.
It was a cunning plan. We got 2 wickets in the over that followed. Then Charuka kept changing his bowlers until he found 2 guys who could bowl and before we knew it, we had them all out for 50 runs.
So given that we were 20 runs behind them in the first innings, this meant we had to get 71 runs to win this game outright. The problem was that we only had 45 minutes to do this in.
Problem? What problem? The solution was simple – Stanley. We asked him to his AK47 and get out there. He did. He did, however, forget to load the AK47 and he fired a blank and was sent packing on the second ball. Then by the 4th ball, the other opener was sent packing and we were now 2 down for no runs chasing 71 with only 9 overs to go.
Considering we were short a batsmen and the remaining batsmen only managed to score less than 60 runs in total in the first innings, we all started consoling each other again. This is when Charuka turned to the second page of his plan – the one he refused to share with anyone else.
He started going hammer and tong at the bowlers and while the batsmen on the other end were dropping like flies – actually faster than flies, even flies have longer life spans than that. The target was always out of reach – we needed something like 15 runs an over at one stage and with Stanley on the way home at this stage, the cause was getting further lost.
Aneesh then tonked a six that gave us some hope. Charuka kept hitting the ball and reaching the boundary and all of a sudden we were down to last over and we needed 8 runs. Aneesh had got himself out and Ricky our superhero made it out to the middle and got a single first ball. Then we got a wide. Then Charuka hit a four. Then it was a dot ball and Ricky ran like crazy only to be run out by the keeper. We now needed 2 off three balls and Sascha made his way out to middle. He was on strike and we all looked at Santa to ask him for one more wish – a single to get the scores tied. He told us to get stuffed. Sascha did get the single and the scores were level. We had 2 balls to get the remaining run. Charuka clocked the next one for 4 and we were home!
Three innings, 30 wickets, 270+ runs in one day – and we came out with another outright WIN! It truly doesn't get much better than that, surely?