EACA Power40 Zone B Division
It’s Falcons vs. Victory in Power40 Zone finals
Riding on a consecutive five-match win record, Victory CC went into the EACA Power40 Zone B Division semi-finals with a lot of confidence. This confidence was displayed through the body language and intensity of each of the eleven VCC players on the field. Injured captain Sumit Rajpal was also on the sidelines cheering for his team and boosting the morale of his teammates.
Having lost the toss to the other semi-finalist Arsenal CC, they were made to field in overcast conditions. The toss was a good one to lose as Victory CC was fielding a battery of pacers which included Harleen Singh, Tahir Khan, Navjot Singh and the captain himself – Rohit Kwatra. Kwatra elected to open with a non-regular opening partnership of Tahir and Navjot, a strategic move which retrospectively was a crucial one. Both of them started beautifully and put pressure on the Arsenal openers right from the first over. Tahir gave VCC its first breakthrough in the form of clean bowling Haseeb who was being troubled by the bowler for a couple of overs.
Harleen Singh, who usually opens the attack and has been in immaculate form with the ball, was brought in first change and created havoc from his first. Gandhi who seemed to be defending the ball quite nicely had his middle stump uprooted by an unplayable in swinger from Harleen in the fourth ball of his spell. Wickets fell at regular intervals for Arsenal and with the scoreboard reading 59/7 they were staring down the barrel. Maksood and Lysan tried to steady the ship before Lysan fell to a scorcher from Tahir. At 81/8 it looked as if Arsenal would be wrapped up under a hundred but in walked Adnan with the long handle. The very first ball he faced was dispatched over the long on region for a huge six. He also hit two consecutive sixes in the next over he faced, finishing the over off with a boundary. In a matter of two overs the Arsenal scorecard moved to 112 and left even VCC players wondering why this burly pinch-hitter was left cooling his heels until almost the end of the innings. The final wicket fell on 121 with Adnan not out on the other end, helplessly having to walk back to the pavilion. The intensity and vigor shown by every member of the Victory CC was refreshing and the unit looked like a bunch of youngsters enjoying the game – the way it should be.
A score of 121 is always difficult to defend but low scores can also be tricky ones sometimes if early wickets are picked up; and Arsenal did just that. Veteran batsmen Jasdeep Singh and Charandeep Singh opened the innings for VCC with the regular opener Sambhav not being available for this game and their other opener and skipper Kwatra chose to bat one down to boost the middle-order which was without the other regular Mani Bhaskaran. The start looked promising with Charandeep taking regular singles along with Jasdeep who also hit a clean beautiful six off Aiaz, and the duo looked quite comfortable out in the middle rotating the strike. At 30 without loss, VCC seemed to be running away with the game. Jasdeep then went for a cut outside his off stump, only to edge it straight into the hands of the third-man fielder. At 30/1 Skipper Kwatra walked in and looked good to take VCC home. But Adnan who seemed disappointed with not being able to finish his big hitting with the bat had other plans for the VCC batsmen.
Following Jasdeep’s wicket, Adnan managed to run through the defenses of Rohit and in successive overs took the wicket of Navjot as well. In his fourth over he also claimed the wicket of Charandeep who had started to settle down. With the score at 45/4 and two new batsmen Nipun and Kabir, the chase started to look a little daunting with Arsenal sniffing a chance to get in the game. But both batsmen played out Adnan’s fiery spell and after a few good defending shots, survived the storm and started to open up and rotate the strike occasionally to steadily move towards the target. The pair took VCC home with Nipun remaining unbeaten on 41 and Kabir on 18; reaching the target of 122 in just 25 overs and finishing up a comprehensive victory in the end.
This win marked the sixth consecutive win for VCC and booked their spot in the EACA Finals to set-up an interesting match with Falcons CC. In an earlier league match played between VCC and Falcons, VCC had overcame a huge target of 286 set by the Falcons, with Rohit Kwatra leading from the front and single-handedly snatching ‘victory from the hands of defeat’ with an unbeaten 151.