The Perfect Storm - CSCC vs Gold Match Report
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Kervyn Dimney's whirlwind innings of 64 came to an end after 43 balls during which the ball was fetched from the boundary 8 times, just two of those had traveled out on the ground.
In the nor’ eastern folk-lore, there exist some mythical tempests that manifest themselves under a combination of rarest of rare circumstances. Take a waning nor'easter, add to that a raging tropical hurricane, supplement that with a warm ocean current and finish off with a chilly undercurrent. These most certainly do make for The Perfect Storm. It is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Those that see it are opportune; those that live through it are blessed. This reporter believes he experienced the CCL equivalent of one such storm and emerged from it to tell the tale.
The ingredients were all right there. A team known as a ruthless winning machine, seemingly on the wane this year. Another team storming through the season albeit with a stumble or two. Hot words exchanged on and off the field. A frosty resolve on both sides to settle the scores of years past. All that was needed was a time and a place. July 16th, 2005 and CCL's newest cricketing facility at Longmont would be it.
Fresh from a closely contested match, CCCC-Gold and CSCC met up again on this scorcher of a day. CSCC were visiting Lower Garden Acres for the first time. The little bit of delay only heightened everyone's anxiety that was vented by way of more heated words. The stage was set and the coin was tossed. Kervyn Dimney called the other side for CSCC and Govind Unkalkar had no hesitation opting to bat on a day when noon temperature was expected to be in triple digits.
Rajesh Mosur and Pradeep Pagadala, the latter coming out of a semi-retirement to play this game, padded up and Dimney weighed the ball. Presently the match was underway. Dimney opened with a maiden over and Michael Doig came on from the other 'side' on a one-side-only ground. Pradeep and Doig have shared enterprising opening tussle’s in the past, the former quick to lather anything to the boundary, the later getting right back with his wicket. Today started in similar vein, as Pradeep swiveled a full ball beautifully to the square leg ropes. A few runs were scored in the next few overs and it was apparent that the bowlers would have to rely on discipline more than the prodigious swing they were able to extract the weekend before at Colorado Springs. With the ball doing little, Dimney pitched one short of a length. Pradeep's heave at it only resulted in a high catch that Raymond Mascarenhas caught running backwards. Of the 19 on the board, 14 were Pradeep's.
This brought Vijay Venkatesh to the crease. Both batters negotiated the new ball bowlers well. Mosur in his calm, patient way and Venkatesh always looking for that extra something but not getting much from the bowlers. Mascarenhas replaced Dimney and after three maidens on the trot, Doig was rested for Shadakshari 'Shashi' Chikkanna. More of the same followed, although the pair did give away some wides. Needing a breakthrough, Keshav Murthy was brought into the attack with the reasoning that his fastish off spinners would invite the batsmen to take risks. In Keshav's third over, Mosur hit one sharply back to him. Keshav tried to stop it and to his horror, found out that the seam had split open the webbing between the third and pinky finger on his bowling hand! He had to be rushed from the ground. Jarrar Jaffari, the league president, was watching the match from the sidelines and graciously volunteered to drive Keshav to an Emergency Room. CSCC can not thank Mr. Jaffari enough for his gesture of goodwill.
With no 12th man on duty, CSCC found themselves a man short on the field, but the battle would go on nonetheless. Anant Kota Shashidhar, a recent addition to CSCC, finished Keshav's over. Being short-handed, CSCC had to now plug the hole in the field while giving enough protection to their bowlers. Seeing that CSCC opted for the latter, Mosur and Venkatesh went on a singles-spree. The two took the score to 68 before Venkatesh fell to Vijay Hurkute's presence of mind. Mosur hit one to short mid-on where Vijay fielded off his own bowling and seeing that Venkatesh had backed up too far, flicked the ball back on what would be the off-stump for a right hander. 68/2 and in came Unkalkar, the skipper.
A lot has been said about Mosur and Unkalkar's partnerships, this was another occasion to say it. While taking advantage of the gaps, Govind was not afraid to go over the fielders for twos and threes. Having Mosur as his non-striker only helped, until he decided enough was enough. In Keshav's absence, Hurkute was pressed into service as the slow bowler. Hurkute sent one down with some width to it and Unkalkar tried to slog-sweep it only to sky it in the point region. Shashidhar ran in from the deep and Abhay Natu, the keeper, rushed out with the gloves. Natu dove for the catch only to let it pass through the gloves and his body. Dropping a catch is never good. Dropping Unkalkar's catch is even worse. Fortunately, two balls later, Hurkute bowled one with less width and less flight to see Unkalkar smash it low to Mukesh Patel, guarding long-on! 112 for the loss of 3 wickets.
Rajesh Solanki joined Mosur and started charging at almost everything in sight. After scoring 7 runs, he gave Hurkute the charge once more. Hurkute saw him coming and banged the ball short. Solanki was committed 4 feet outside the crease and the unwieldy slog resulted in another catch down Patel's throat. Sam George, the replacement, was determined to hit everything that came his way. He dispatched a four before offering Patel his third chance in the field. Patel's effort was grand, but the shot was slightly grander. Patel flirted with the boundary before spilling the ball over the line, resulting in six runs. In the meanwhile, Mosur had begun opening up and dispatching anything on his legs to the boundary with nonchalant ease. Suddenly he had completed another half-century, his third of the season. Having decided to unshackle he gave Shashi a simple chance at deep mid-off. Mosur's patient 50 came in 110 balls laced with 5 gorgeous boundaries.
Swadeep Pagadala came in and with George, started the old run-a-ball routine. Then Swadeep dropped one to point and took off for a single. Natu from behind the wickets threw down the glove, rushed to the ball and pivoting on one foot scored a direct hit before George could make it home. 6 down for 149 and a few more overs to go. Aravind Gupta and Swadeep's partnership was not to last long. Swadeep tried to go over covers but picked the tallest man on CSCC's squad, Robert Lezama who held onto a fine catch from Swadeep's willow for the second time in two weeks. In came Rohit Madhok, a duck in tow from the previous CSCC match. A pair he would not have. Swiping at everything offered he quickly raced to 6 runs, before Gupta was run out with a smart stop from Dimney relaying to Doig. Surya Tummala joined Madhok at 166/8 and got a four behind the wickets and a couple more. After 39 overs, Gold was 173/8. A formidable score on any ground. Dimney started the last over and watched in disbelief as Madhok swatted one ball after another over long-on and long-off. Dimney switched to short deliveries but did not help either. When the over was finished, Madhok had plundered 25 runs and taken Gold to 198/8. If 173 was formidable, 198 looked insurmountable. CSCC left the ground on a low note and Gold's tails were high.
The nor'easter had blown through and CSCC's defenses had fallen over with the last bitterly cold squall.
After contrasting scenes in the two 'dressing rooms' during lunch, Hurkute and Patel picked up their bats and Madhok opened bowling for Gold. Hurkute flicked the first ball and scored two. Next ball was played down. Amazingly, this was the only period when CSCC was ahead of the asking rate in their entire innings. After running a few more runs with Patel, Hurkute decided that the only way CSCC were going to get 200 was to dominate from early on. He hit Madhok but mistimed and Swadeep gladly accepted the gift at mid on. Shashidhar walked in with a heavy responsibility. To win, CSCC had to preserve wickets and yet be in the hunt all the time. A period of consolidation began. Singles and twos came regularly but so did dot balls. Patel and Shashidhar kept rotating the strike but were shackled down as much by responsibility as by some accurate bowling from Unkalkar and company. A rare short ball from Unkalkar was met with a classical pull shot over mid wicket by Shashidhar. Despite that one loose one, Unkalkar was at his miserly best and returned figures of none for 17 from 8 overs.
After bowling himself through and Madhok most of the way, he brought Solanki and Naim Hakim on. Hakim offered a couple looseners which Patel gratefully dispatched to the square leg boundary. For probably the first time this season, CSCC crossed 50 with only one wicket down. Shortly thereafter Solanki foxed Shashidhar and sneaked one through the gate and knocked back the timber. 2 down for 52 and Keshav showed up from the Emergency Room with fresh stitches on his right hand. There is no way a batter can play with 3 fresh stitches.
Suresh Joshi went in. He took off for runs after playing a fine late cut and turned back for a second. Half way through the second run, his pad came off and Joshi tripped/fell/tumbled to the crease, but a tad too late... 54/3 and looked like the doldrums had set in! Kervyn Dimney joined Patel and continued to move the scoreboard along. Dimney was quite tentative initially, even skying one to square-leg where a scrambling/diving Pradeep Pagadala grassed a difficult chance that was not too different from the one that the CSCC keeper had spilled earlier. There is, after all, a sense of balance in the Universe!
Taking calculated risks, Patel and Dimney moved the score to 80. Sam George had replaced Solanki and bowled one that did not rise much. Trying to sweep, Patel fell over on the pitch and the bails were dislodged. There was much confusion as to whether the ball had hit the stumps square or if it had bounced off the keeper's pads. The main umpire being indecisive, leg-umpire ruled Patel bowled and he trudged from the crease, a well-made fifty in sight but too far to reach.
Robert Lezama replaced him. Earlier in the day, Lezama had admonished his team-mates for trying to give him too many tips on his batting. Today, he was determined to bat just like Lezama would. After taking a couple of runs off ordinary looking (by the Lezama standard) shots, Swadeep bowled one right where Lezama likes it. Bang, the bullet that shot off his blade made a beeline for the boundary but forgot where the ground ended. The ball continued way past the boundary and landed about 110-120 meters from the batting crease, all the while not rising much above 15 feet. If you're familiar with the Longmont ground, picture the ball traveling under the lowest branch of the shortest tree on the ground and taking the first bounce *beyond* the jogging track. That ball was lost in the stream and lost for good! A replacement was found and the match continued. Swadeep found sweet revenge soon after, bowling a fuller, faster one that broke through Lezama's awkward back foot defense and knocked back the middle-stump. That brought up the second water-break and CSCC were 5/97 from 28 overs. 102 runs to get in 12 overs, the ask was 8-and-change and climbing.
During the break, Dimney was made aware of the asking rate and asked to play sensibly. Raymond Mascarenhas was raring to go, so much so that he almost walked out to the crease without his partner. Mascarenhas and Dimney are considered the last 'recognized' batsmen in the CSCC line-up. Truth be told that CSCC this year boasts of #8-11 that are capable of turning the game single-handedly on a given day! Perhaps keeping that in mind, Unkalkar chose to continue with his slow bowlers and save quicker ones for later.
Meanwhile, Mascarenhas and Dimney kept the scoreboard ticking. Then the hurricane showed up. It came with such force that during the next round of hurricane's we shall request the National Weather Bureau to rename the "K" variety to Hurricane Kervyn. Swadeep was bowling from one end and started a fresh over to Dimney. Wham! A six over long-on and another ball lost to the stream. Ball two, little short on middle-and-off. Bang! Another six over long on and incredibly, *another* ball lost. The umpire, concerned about the number of balls lost, requested CSCC players to guard the long-off/long-on boundary to keep another ball from going to the Big Boundary in the Sky. Ball three, shorter still and, you guessed it... another six, this time over mid-wicket! CSCC fans were delirious. The over was not done yet. Another ball was dispatched for the maximum and 1 more was run before the umpire called it so. 25 came off that over. Exactly the number of runs Dimney gave away in his last over. Yes, there definitely is a sense of balance in the Universe!
Dimney was not done yet. He carted around any and all bowlers that came his way and reached his fifty before you could say "raw talent." Mascarenhas was watching the action on the other end. He is arguably the nicest guy in the whole league, but today he wanted a piece of the action too. He took his share by thumping George for a boundary and then whomping one from Solanki for maximum over wide long on! Looking for options Unkalkar brought back Madhok, his strike bowler, to try and stop the carnage. Dimney took him to task as well. He finally mistimed one and Swadeep did very well to hold on to a skier a foot inside the boundary. Dimney's whirlwind innings of 64 came to an end after 43 balls during which the ball was fetched from the boundary 8 times, just two of those had traveled out on the ground.
Shashi joined Mascarenhas. If Dimney ushered in the hurricane, this was the eye of the storm. Playing with a sense of calmness, Shashi and Mascarenhas kept ticking the scoreboard, although too slow by CSCC players' reckoning. After seeing Madhok and Solanki through, Mascarenhas launched one from Swadeep towards the boundary where George did well to hold on. 7 down for 172. Michael Doig took guard. And suddenly the wind was gone from CSCC's sails. Shashi could find no purchase off the slow bowlers and had to be content pushing the ball around. After some exhortion from the ropes and a message from the captain, he decided to open up but was well-caught by Mosur at deep mid-wicket. 8 down for 175 and Keshav announced he *would* bat if it came down to that. Abhay Natu went in determined to do-or-die. After running 3 runs with Doig, he faced up to George and received one slightly short of a length. Left with no choice, the ball was dispatched to the deep long-on boundary where Unkalkar welcomed the catch. Was that it? Was all that effort for nothing? A distraught Natu trundled off the field, resigned to the thought that he had just given away the match to Gold.
CSCC is made up of nothing if not fighters. Keshav was determined to bat even though he could not get a glove on because of the stitches. After struggling for a while, he decided to put it on with two fingers together and one finger of the glove limp. Walking in, there were 24 runs to get, just over 2 overs to get them in. And now the trailing half of the hurricane rushed in. Doig had watched helplessly as two of his team-mates perished trying to do the impossible. And now it was his turn. Solanki, arguably one of the best bowlers in the league and nigh impossible to get away, was to bowl the penultimate over.
First up, Keshav punched a fuller ball down to long off for a single. Doig facing, he picked one spearing into his pads and whipped it out to deep backward square leg. It might have only been a single but the two were running for their lives and completed the double. The third ball was full yet again and Doig delivered a bullet for six runs straight down the ground. The trajectory and speed ensured fielders in the deep were barely able to react. Fourth ball was full and coming in again, however Doig whipped it forward of square for 2 more. Perhaps frustratingly, Solanki delivered his 5th a tad shorter and outside the off. Doig waited and cut it past Hakim at backward point and quickly completed the 2nd. The last ball Solanki dug deep, and in an effort to beguile the batsman offered a slower ball which was clinically dispatched over the top to the unprotected cover boundary. 17 runs had come from the over and suddenly 6 from 6 was the asking.
Sam George was given the mighty task of bowling the final over and getting the needed solitary wicket for victory. Keshav on strike, 6 runs to get. Ball one, played/slashed/nudged towards deep gully. Two runs. 5 balls to go, 4 runs to get. Ball two, short of a length, outside off. Keshav, doing his best impression of a world-class opening batsman, shoulders arms! CSCC players are distraught with astonishment. 4 balls left, 4 runs needed. Ball three, a single to a mis-field at mid-off. 3 balls left, 3 runs to get, Doig facing George. Asking rate of 6, this never fell below the current run rate, except in the first two balls of CSCC innings! If rain had showed up at any point, Gold would have had the game.
Presently, Doig surveys the field. He is *not* going to finish the match with a whimper. That would not be a fitting finale to a high-wire act such as this. 5 fielders on the rope, 4 on the thirty yard circle, keeper standing up, Keshav visibly in pain. Ball 4, slightly over pitched, outside off. Bang! It flies from the bat towards the long-on boundary, the fielder runs around to position for a catch. Every pair of eyes in the vicinity watches the flight of the ball. The batsman watches anxiously, wondering if he will perhaps find the fielder and the rear-guard effort will fall agonizingly short. But the ball, it keeps sailing and clears the boundary for six! CSCC wins and the batsman is mobbed and mauled by CSCC players suddenly on the ground. Dimney is the hero of the day; Doig is the hero of the hour. Gold players sit down or trudge dejectedly. CSCC players are in raptures, a famous victory for that will be remembered for years to come!
The hurricane had passed and revealed a calm ocean and bright sunshine.
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