By Sham Ali
(Celebrating 29th Anniversary):- In a match that offered a few narratives of its own and a Cosmos team that has its fair share of success on and off the cricket field, and a team that embraced disciplined at its core, there is the anticipated and often expected melodrama about a defeat, especially one that resulted from a below par performance. It came on an occasion in which the expectations were high and they were required to dig a little deeper. They didn’t and that resulted in a missed opportunity in the challenge Cup final and a chance at a third championship as they were blown away by Villagers last Sunday at Floyd Bennett field.
A delayed start of the match did not do much to improve a damp pitch and as such the toss was a major factor in the equation between winning and losing. After Cosmos lost the toss and was inserted to bat, they knew that batting first on a pitch, as sticky as this one, that offered very few strokes would require experience and application; a sure challenge for this Cosmos team.
It became evident by the 10th over that an inexperienced and impatient Cosmos top order failed with a combination of poor shot selection, and ultimately lost their footing very early in the inning. Faisal Taj heave off a slower ball ballooned to square leg; Ahsan Riaz then fell to an excellent catch at backward square when he pulled a long-hop that stopped on him, Anjel looked terrible when he missed a juicy full toss, and Haraldo Marshall fanned loosely at a wide to backward point. When Sohan Dass was undone by a good piece of stumping by D. Bennett to a wide down the leg side, just like that Cuthbert Mendonca was handed four well deserved wickets to which Cosmos were reduced to 34 for 5 and never managed to recover. After Sham Ali and Sajib Salam fell to two poor run outs and Ricky Kissoon rearguard effort ended in the 29th over cosmos were bundled out for just 59 runs.
To squeeze a victory from such a small total it would require Cosmos to initiate more than a few dramatic twists and turns in the match. However after Dass picked up Melroy for a duck in the first over and Salam nicked Richard Staple edge that passed the wicketkeeper and Taj at first slip, an opportunity was missed. Staple punched Salam through point for four, but the youngster responded with a faster ball that struck him plumb in front. Cosmos then turned the screws, all but briefly, as Bennett edge went begging to first slip and Rashad Marshall forced drive off Salam went in and out of the hands of a diving Dass low down at extra cover, what a picture! Marshall had no intentions to prod around anymore; he took his chances and delivered a brief cameo and a deserved run to the Challenge Cup final.
In the finality of all the buildup, Cosmos boys had played well throughout the season to have earned a semi final spot in both the Round Ribbon and Challenge Cup, but in this semi final they were beaten by a better performance from Villagers on this day on a sticky wicket that told the story of a young team in untested territory.
Good luck to Westbury and Villagers in the final.