New York Softball Cricket
By James Persaud
In the battle of the Titans between Hustlers and Untouchable, Pooran Beria showed the mettle and quality of players he is; he battled the storm and stayed at the crease for 21 overs. He scored a fighting 29 runs, and watched as the foundation crumpled around him.
Erapalli Sahadeo made plenty of adjustments; he changed his batting style, as he chipped and chiseled away for ten overs and scored ten runs. And when it was over in the twenty seventh over he carved a perfect 100 runs for Untouchable to defeat Hustlers for the championship. Erapalli is known for his ability of stroking the ball with power and finding the boundaries, but on this day singles was number one on the menu.
On Sunday afternoon as the sweet aroma from food whiffed across the park from the many family summer barbeques nearby, softball cricket fans and supporters made their way to the Rockaway Park Oval. By the second half of the game the crowd swelled well into the thousands. They came for excitement, but were given a real treat as both teams’ bowlers and batsmen put on a great show of determination and gritty. The game was almost five hours long, everyone walked away happy, and many asked will there be a part two.
In a Premier division final, it looked as if it was almost impossible for the batsmen to find the boundary. Hustlers batted first and scored a total of 99 runs including only five fours. When Untouchables replied, the first six of the game was scored in the thirty seventh over of the game bowled by Popie Singh, when Wahid Ward stroked him over the long on boundary.
Navin Narine lost the toss to Andrew Gonsalves, and Hustlers was as asked to bat first. Asif Ally and Pooran Beria came to the crease for Hustlers and Moe Khan was given the ball. In Khan’s first over, he gave up three runs and what could be considered as a very valiant move, Andrew Gonsalves took the ball for the second over. The large crowd watched in awe, some wondered if the gamble was worth it this early. It was as if Gonsalves knew something or had a different plan, his second delivery found the middle stump of a driving Asif Ally.
With the fall of Asif’s wicket the crowd went into silent mode, but soon came back alive as Kris Sobhai made his way to the crease. Sobhai pushed the first ball from Gonsalves between cover and extra cover for a double to get off the mark. Sobhai looked solid for the next four overs and he scored the first boundary of the game when he pulled Khan to the mid wicket boundary. Khan returned in his next over and beat a driving Sobhai, removing his off stump in the process.
With the fall of Sobhai wicket, Nigel Greaves made his way to the crease and after seven overs a double bowling change was made with Michael Rangasami and Derrick Edwards. Both bowlers claimed their first wicket in their second over, Rangasami had Greaves caught by the wicketkeeper and Edwards bowled Javid Ali without scoring.
The batsmen found runs very difficult to get and dot balls was soon out pacing figures, the two ball by ball commentators Onkar Singh and Murph Seeram kept the crowd up to date with the scores and gave old stats of the players, both in local cricket and their Guyana playing days.
In the eleventh over Hustlers lost their fourth wicket with only 35 runs on the board, this was not looking good for the batting team, while the Untouchables captain must have felt good making the right moves. Sudesh Persaud joined Pooran Beria at the crease and who was looking in good touch, not taking any loose chances. After Persaud scored one run Edwards found the edge and wicketkeeper Mahadeo took a very good catch to reduce Hustlers to five for 42.
Rico Knight and Beria took their team to the fifteen over break without further loss. When play resumed Knight and Beria stayed together for the next eight overs. This pair added a very valuable sixth wicket partnership of 32 runs, before Beria (29) was caught by Ward of Prashad Mahadeo. Beria’s innings was special, he stayed at the crease for a long time, and his score of 29 runs would not reflect the valuable of his batting which included only 2 boundaries.
Knight soon followed after scoring 26 runs, he was brilliantly caught by Raja of Mahadeo, and Knight played a great innings. He looked the least troubled by the bowlers as he moved the ball around picking up doubles and a couple boundaries; it took a great catch to remove him. Gummel Mattai scored five before falling to Mahadeo and Popie Singh was run out for one. Edwards returned and claimed the wicket of Navin Narine and Shawn Persaud was left unbeaten on 3 in a total of 99 all out.
Untouchables began their reply and had to feel that they had done very well so far, being the outsider and underdog not winning a major championship for the last 8 seasons. While Navin Narine, Hustlers captain, must have had on his mind that his team had enough bowling to stop his opponents.
The strength of the Untouchables team is their batting and a total of 100 seemed well within their reach, well as an old myth goes 99 was already in the book. Prashad Mahadeo and Ravi Sahadeo came to the crease to face Popie Singh and Shawn Persaud. It was clear from the first ball bowled that both batsmen had plans for an early finish; the running between the wickets was quick. Hustlers gave up an early chance of run out; after both batsmen were left standing in the middle of the pitch the fielder juggled the ball and threw to the wrong end.
This mistake did not cost too much, seven runs later and Singh in his second over found the middle stump of Ravi (6), Raga Parsram came to the crease and looked in good form. Narine made a quick change; Persaud was replaced with Asif Ally. Raja greeted Ally with a cover drive and a pull to mid wicket for two boundaries. Singh struck again in his next over, Mahadeo (8) was caught by Javid Ally.
The hard hitting Wahid Ward made his way to the middle, he picked up two doubles before hitting the first six of the game. Gumel Mathai was introduced into the attack, and together with Asif Ally they created plenty of trouble for both batsmen. Ally bowled his next three overs for maidens and the next seven over gave up 28 runs. Pooran Beria bowling the eleventh over, bowled Raja (18) and Javid Ally had the wicket of Andrew Gonsalves, brilliantly caught by Asif Ally at mid on for five to bring up the water break and a score of 70 for 4.
With Ward and Erapalli Sahadeo still at the crease, Untouchables still needed 30 runs and six wickets in hand, many in the park had a feeling that the end was near for Hustlers. Asif Ally was given the ball for the first over after the break. Ally did exactly what his skipper wanted; he removed the dangerous Ward (23) with a diving catch from Shawn Persaud.
Javid and Asif would bring the fans out of their seats; the next five overs gave up six runs. Sahadeo settled for the single while his partner Moe Khan tried to sweep his way out of trouble and missed many times. In the twentieth over Asif found the off stump of Khan (5) and a total of 78 for 6.
Michael Rangasami joined Sahadeo and together they stayed for the next four overs, Rangasami hit the second six of the game to bring the score to 96. Kris Sobhai was given the ball and his second delivery had Rangasami driving hard to short mid on and Narine could not hold onto the catch. This was a big mistake, but it did not last, the next ball removed Rangasami leg stump. The new batsman Irshad Adam scored two before he was bowled by Sobhai and the score was 98 for 8. Sahadeo reached Derek Edwards half way to the crease and they had a long meeting.
Pooran Beria bowling the twenty seventh over and Sahadeo pulled the fourth ball to the square leg boundary to claim the NYSCL Premier division 2012 30 Over Cup. Sahadeo was unbeaten on 10 and Edwards did not get off the mark. Erapalli Sahadeo played a great inning, it was not the amount of runs he scored but the length of time he spent at the crease. The way the game was going, it needed someone to stay while the other batsmen took their chance at finding ways to produce runs.
The competitions sponsors Mr. PK Singh of PK Realty & Mortgage Services was on hand along with other sponsors Johnny from Johnny’s Restaurant & Bar and Ken Miah. Prashad Mahadeo won the trophy for the man of the match and he also received a monetary prize from Johnny.