Metropolitan Cricket League
By Sham Ali
(Celebrating 29th Anniversary):- There is very little spice that can be added to this Cosmos team performance over last few weeks to boost their acceleration as they are now in full throttle and is moving rapidly towards securing a spot in the playoffs with Lions in their way. It was Cassius Burton who stroked a classy 73 runs not out and Sajib Salam who bagged 4 wickets in a clinical spell that gave Cosmos ingredients to packaged Spice Island with a thumping 89 runs victory last Sunday at Floyd Bennett field.
It was a welcome strategy When Spice Island won the toss and asked Cosmos to bat, since the toss that had eluded Cosmos for weeks. On burned out Floyd Bennett field on a hot and humid day with the match reduced to 35 overs, for some alien reasons after the toss was spun was ideal conditions for an athletic Cosmos team and their batsmen responded in combinations. After Adrian Ali nicked a wide delivery down the leg side to the wicketkeeper with the score on 14 runs, it was Ahsam Riaz and Aown Iqbal who then shaved the new ball to put Cosmos on a firm platform. They showed maturity as they dug in against a tidy opening attack with some excellent running between the wickets and in the process constructed an important 63-run partnership. Riaz (31) was then well taken low down at point and Iqbal, who stroking the ball with ease into the gaps, lost his concentration and played across the line to a straight delivery.
With the score on 94 for 3 in the 17th over Cosmos stumbled a little. Burton and Neil Lewis then combined for another crucial 65-run partnership before Lewis (34) was carelessly run out going for a third run with the score on 159 in the 26th over. However, Cosmos inning was now poised for a respectable total and with Burton well settled in the wicket. He and Ralston Levy kept the score ticking with some aggressive running between the wickets that resulted in an 85-runs partnership in 9 overs as the opposition patrolled the outfield. Burton was solid on the front foot, picking the gaps with consummate ease as he anchored the Cosmos inning, and he took full advantage of anything marginally short outside with five cracking square cuts the cover point boundary.
Levy after being watchful for a short while then decided to spice things up with a Taj-like burst as he unleashed with an aggressive 39 runs of 18 balls with 4 fours and 2 sixes. When a struggling Rasheem James send the one ball that was left for him to the mid wicket boundary, he took pride with his strike rate of 400.0 and cracking the fielder finger in the process, Cosmos closed their inning on an imposing 248 for 5 off the allotted 35 overs with Burton, for the third consecutive inning, unbeaten on a solid 73 runs.
Cosmos backed themselves in defense of 248 runs on an utterly ridiculously large (95 yds) Floyd Bennett boundary. However, that did not matter to the Spice Island opening batsmen, temporarily at least, as they went airborne and raced to 53 runs in just 7 overs. That explosion forced an early change in attack. Ricky Kissoon, as he has done so often produced another military spell to stem the flow of runs. When Riaz stood under a catch and waited, a year, on the deep mid on boundary to dismiss a hard hitting L. McLeish off Ricky Kissoon, Cosmos had executed. However, it was Salam, with a new ‘cherry’ in his hand, that mesmerized the opposition on a nagging line.
In his 5th over, he induced L. Williams to flash at a ball that was too close to him and wicketkeeper Adrian Ali’s held on to a sharp catch, 58 for 2. In his next over, he removed L. Chitan when Burton held on to a good running catch on the mid off boundary and the next ball deceived D. Williams with a faster ball that trapped him plumb in front, 64 for 4. On a hat trick, Salam’s greenness was evident as he delivered a wide down the leg side. However, he was not done, in his next over, he scalped danger man Gregory Anthony who pushed tentatively forward to a ball that pitched on middle, bounce and turn and nicked the edge on its way to wicketkeeper Ali’s glove.
With that spell Salam had delivered the knockout blow to finish with figures of 4 for 18 off 7 overs and Spice Island’s aggressive start of 53 runs in 7 overs came to a screeching halt as they slumped to 71 for 5 in 14 overs with left their camp in tatters. Thereafter Cosmos virtually pounced on this opposition and dictated the outcome of the match as their spinners kept a tight line that was backed up by some brilliant fielding. Another three wickets fell as the runs dried up to 138 for 8 by the 27th over. In the closing stages of the match Spice Island tail decided that they would stalled the match with the block and don’t run method as cosmos completed a convincing 89 runs victory.
With the last round of matches left to be played in the Round Robin competition to determine the final four teams for the playoffs and Cosmos in full throttle, the opponents Lions may need more than a roar to stop a disciplined Cosmos that has been playing some excellent cricket.