It was a hot sunny afternoon and a perfect day for cricket. Hosts Victory Cricket Club (VCC) were ready to take on a tough opponent, arguably the best side in the league – Big Apple who chose to rest Telston Johnson, one of their best bowlers. A decision which the team might rue after being stunned by VCC which most believe went into the game as underdogs.
VCC won the toss and decided to bat first to capitalize on the hot conditions. With T. Johnson cooling his heels, it was up to his opening partner Charlton Senior to pick up early wickets and put the VCC lineup under pressure, and that he did. Senior picked up two early wickets of captain Sumit Rajpal and seasoned opener Sambhav Jain in the very first over of his spell. Big apple seemed confident and were looking forward to an early clean up job, something which they are accustomed to. But Rohit Kwatra (26) and Mani Bhaskaran (62) had other plans. Rohit who usually opens and likes to smack balls out of the park, held ground to partner with ‘cool as a cucumber’ Mani and left Big Apple wicket less until the 25th over. Kwatra went for a ball way outside off stump and ended up nicking it to the keeper.
But by this time the duo had provided a good platform for the middle order to come in and put up a decent total. After the wicket of Rohit, Mani decided to open up and hit a few good boundaries including two beautiful sixes. He was given good support by the middle order until the 33rd over when Senior was called back into the attack and cleaned him up. VCC lower order wagged its tail pretty hard with most of them putting in good contributions and put up a decent 177 on the board.
Big Apple had a similar start to their innings as their counter parts, losing two quick wickets, the first ominous signs for VCC. Harleen Singh who opened the attack took Alvin Kallimotoo in his very first over with a deceptive in swinger, hitting the bat’s outside edge and lobbed a simple catch. He also beat the in form skipper Zaheer Saffie with a beautiful in swinger which held its line and clipped the bails off the stumps. But Williams kept going with some beautiful boundaries and Big Apple raced to 73/2 in 12 overs. But veteran out swinger Anil brought VCC back in the game by taking a strategically planned wicket of Williams who had started to look dangerous.
Mani was then brought into the attack and took another wicket which left Big Apple reeling at 96/4. In came Ryan Balram and along with Mark “Chucky” Gomes decided to build a partnership. Both batsmen were playing shots right out of the cricket manual to take quick singles and hit the occasionally bad balls to the boundary.
Just when it seemed like the partnership was going to take the match away from VCC, the pressure created by Jasdeep Singh and Gary Cheema’s off spinners paid off to a well planned wicket of Mark Gomes who was tempted to drive Jasdeep to an open cover area, missing the ball completely and being cleaned up – a perfect off spinners wicket. They then lost two quick wickets before Kumar Nandalal walked in and threatened to take it away from VCC.
But just as he was on the non strikers end, Mani came in and took 2 wickets in 2 deliveries. Suddenly battered down and left with just 1 wicket in hand and 33 runs to get, it was up to Nandalal to try and take VCC bowlers to the cleaners.
But by then VCC players had almost tasted the sweet taste of ‘Victory’ and got the last of Big Apple’s wicket with Nandalal trying to clear the boundary straight down the ground They were eventually bowled out for 169. Captain Sumiit Rajpal fittingly caught the ball with safe hands and VCC had taken a big bite off the Big Apple.