By Sham Ali
(Celebrating 30th Anniversary):-Time and again the battle lines were drawn among the teams fighting for spot in the Metropolitan Cricket League semi finals. And as it was in the Round Robin competition, so too, it came down to the last round in Roy Sweeney Challenge Cup competition with the teams battling for two spots in each conference. Cosmos has been there before and on this occasion they held their nerves in a hard fought battle against a reinforced Suburbia outfit at Idlewyle Park last Sunday and subsequently cleared the way for a semi finals spot in the Western Conference. The lost for Suburbia denied them their chance in the Eastern Conference semi finals.

Cyril Choy hit a vital 52 in Cosmos win over Suburbia.

Suburbia though had made Cosmos toiled to the end. Their openers, R. Trochard and M. Hussain, posted a good opening partnership of 86-runs by the 14th over and appeared poised for a big total. But then Cassius Burton struck twice with his last two deliveries in the 14th over to remove both openers. It was the break that Cosmos needed and they ceased the opportunity to turn the pressure knob.  Suburbia middle order then succumbed to the pressure as Cosmos picked up wickets at crucial times.  The inning wobbled to 158 for 7 by the 29th over against tidy spells from Faisal Taj, Burton, Ricky Kissoon and Ralston Levy; a bowling combination that was back up by some excellent fielding especially from Rasheem James who took three brilliant catches. Nonetheless, a sensibly rearguard effort from T. Whittick (31) and R. Williams in the closing stages pushed their team’s total over the psychological 200-runs mark with an unbroken 47-runs partnership in six overs as the Suburbia inning closed on a challenging  205 for 7 off the allotted 35 overs.

In their reply, Cosmos inning experienced some early tremors in consequence of a few soft dismissals. Faisal Taj went for a second ball duck when he lobbed a slow delivery to square leg, Keddy Lesporis holed out at mid-off from a leading edge, 8 for 2. Aown Iqbal and Cassius Burton then featured in a 40-run partnership before Iqbal (23) drove to cover as Cosmos top order stumbled to 48 for 3.

In calculated move Cyril Choy was promoted up the order.  He and Burton had some work to do to repair the Cosmos inning and they proceeded with a measured approach, watchful in the early overs. The typical free scoring Burton was quite satisfied to pick up the singles and prepared to play second fiddle to the aggressive Choy. Choy seemed to be in good touch striking the ball with authority. He took the challenge to the opposition bowling attack and dispatched the loose deliveries with consummate ease. In the process he delivered a cameo half century to revitalized the Cosmos inning; the type of inning that usually wins cricket matches. A silently his partner, Burton, executed on the occasional boundary to add his cents to the partnership.

At that stage the Cosmos inning got the oxygen it needed, and recovered guardedly as the pair posted a crucial 78-runs partnership to take Cosmos to 112 for 3 at 15th over the break with the match in a balance. On resumption, Choy offered a top edged chance to short thirdman to which the opposition obliged and he departed for a breezy but vital 52 runs (3’6s, 5’4’s).

At 118 for 4 in the 16th over and the match tilted on Cosmos’s side, Cosmos captain Sham Ali walked rather purposefully to the wicket with another 87 runs required from 19 overs. Suburbia then picked up Burton (38) in the next over brilliantly taken by M. Hussain at backward point. That strike shifted the balance of the match again as the equation changed and the match was poised for a tense finished. An important 32-runs partnership between Ali and Ralston Levy took Cosmos to 155 in the 21st over before Levy (16) played a loose pull to mid-wicket. Sohan Dass and Ali chipped away at the opposition’s target with another 30-runs partnership before Dass missed an extravagant slog and was adjusted LBW, 185 for 7. Ali though, dogged as ever, was still there fighting the ‘Lion’s fight’ and playing the anchored role for his team’s semi finals quest.

However, with Dass’s dismissal Suburbia smelled some hope again and decided that they will attack the ‘bigman’ Rasheem James with slip, gully, a brave silly point and a few loose lips. James is cool and unruffled, but his lox though needed tie-up. He responded to the lips around him with a drive to point for two and then plastered a ‘horrified’ look on the face of the man at silly point when he stamped a huge exclamation mark with the most imperious stroke of the match; a dismissive six way over mid-on, clear the way, silly. In the next over Ali (43 not out) put the pencil on  the semi finals box with a blistering square cut and then checked it with a lofted drive and the scoreboard read 206 for 7 as Cosmos registered an emphatic 3-wicket win in the 30th over and into the semi finals.