A rivalry is reborn
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Rajesh Mosur orchestrated the great escape for CCCC with his 88*.
On a very stereotypical gorgeous day under bright sunshine and blue skies FRCC skipper Naveen Kaje called it right and elected to bat first. With their previous game washed out and no games last weekend, FRCC was coming out of a two week hiatus.
Naveen and Amal Chandran started off on a cautious note rotating the strike and taking singles, trying to play off CCCC's opening bowlers Srinivas and Prashant. Both of them bowled brilliantly and kept the batsmen honest. Naveen was his usual stylish self and Amal was at his defensive best. Boundaries were difficult to come (not surprisingly) and the only way to get a boundary was by going over the top and Amal did just that with a huge hit over the top for a six of Srinivas. In the very next over Srinivas bowled a great dipping low full toss which went dead straight on to the wickets,Amal tried playing the ball across and completely missed the length. CCCC draws first blood. In comes FRCC's one down batsman Tejkiran with scoreboard reading 21/1. He looked completely out of sorts and took 15 balls to score his first run. But Naveen on the other side was looking solid and kept the score board ticking.
After FRCC managed to keep their second wicket safe for a few overs, CCCC made their first bowling change and brought in Venu and Suri to continue the attack. By now Tej was there for a while, he slowly started to open up with a 4 in the covers and 6 at the long on off Suri's bowling. He was dropped on 12 by Venu at the catching position on the off. Both Tej and Naveen were cruising along with the scoreboard reading 67/1 till the first drinks break. CCCC had to come up with a trick or two to break this building partnership. The session resumed with CCCC bringing in their first slow bowler Sam. Sam gets treated with some lofty blows all over the park (one even behind the keeper!!). This was the phase when the score accelerated very quickly and the partnership was proving to be dangerous. CCCC brings in Rohit at this stage and he responds to his captain's call with very disciplined bowling. Anything pitching up was getting punished and the only way CCCC bowlers kept FRCC batsmen silent was by bowling short of length. Doing so they were giving away extras. Tej reaches to his second half century this season in style by hitting a six straight on top of the long off. There was some vociferous cheering from the pavilion on the completion of the 100 run partnership. Rohit comes back strong and bowls one short of length going slightly away from the batsmen and Tej nicks it into the gloves of the keeper and Mosur completes the catch diving to his right.
At 121/2 the stage was perfectly set for the remaining batsmen to get the team to the magic figure of 200. In comes FRCC's most promising rookie this year, Sriram Akella (former vice captain of BITS Pilani cricket team). He takes time to get his eye-in and in the mean time Naveen continues scoring runs freely and reaches his half century. With the field spread out and tight bowling by CCCC, FRCC batsmen had to run hard, converting those ones to two's and they did just that. FRCC lost Naveen immediately after the second drinks break and score read 157/3 with around 7 overs remaining. In an attempt to accelerate the score a bit they send in their hitters (Mayuresh - Samrat) ahead of in-form Sudeep, but the plan didn't quite work out, all credit to some smart bowling changes by CCCC. Sudeep, Abhishek, Manoj, Manju chip in their bit and FRCC ends their innings at 187 with around 3 overs remaining.
CCCC had their task cut out with a very competitive score to chase and the afternoon promised some wonderful entertainment anticipating a show down between star power batting line up and high energy bowling and fielding lineup, and no one was disappointed. Rajesh Mosur and (Central West Selected) Rohit Ram Kumar start the offensive. Mosur takes the strike against 'Front Range Express' Bharat Holla. Bharat was spot on right from the word go and CCCC finished the first over very cautiously. FRCC had clearly done a lot of home work and sprung a surprise by bringing in left arm orthodox spinner Naveen in the very second over against Mosur and Rohit. Rohit was brilliantly setup by Naveen and the joy was evident in the wild celebrations. In comes Rohan who looked very comfortable against Naveen, so FRCC switched to regular opening bowler Manoj Manoharan. The change helped as Manoj bowled an amazing ball, pitching on the off stump and swinging out, forcing the batsman to play a shot resulting in a soft dismissal. Rama joins Mosur to continue batting, FRCC didn't relax and brought Naveen back to the bowling attack. With some very smart field adjustments, Rama also fell prey to Naveen's bowling. Here the umpires call drinks.
At 47/3, CCCC was staring down the barrel with FRCC sensing an upset victory. Karthik and Mosur start the proceedings after drinks. This was a crucial phase of the game and FRCC continued their onslaught with Naveen and Sriram bowling in tandem. Sriram picked up two well deserved quick wickets with his flighted leg breaks. All this time Mosur was silently but steadily accumulating runs at the other end with no trouble from any bowler. With the score at 70, Sam George joins Mosur in the middle. With 5 wickets down and more than 100 runs required at more than run a ball, it was a steep climb for CCCC. But Sam didnt let his team down and took the attack to FRCC. With his sound hand-eye co-ordination, he whacked every ball outside the boundary. Of all the bowlers, Manju was man-handled the most by Sam. Sam's quick fire 35 along with Mosur's classic batting, the partnership was proving to be back-breaker for FRCC. Sam is brilliantly caught at the boundary and the umpire calls it a no ball. By this time the tension on the field was rising and the weather was getting overcast. Finally, Sam 'gives' away his wicket but he had done the damage.
CCCC kept loosing wickets at regular intervals and the game came down to the wire with 35 runs needed in 24 balls and 1 wicket in hand. FRCC was inches away from a very memorable victory but they knew all the time that the game is not over till Mosur was standing. And to get Mosur they had to break through two defenses, one his bat and the other his rock solid concentration. The former happened a few times but the latter happened only once, and Manju at long on dropped Mosur. On a day when FRCC fielders took every catch that came their way, the only catch they dropped cost them the game. By this time it was raining pretty hard with ball soaked and the pitch very slippery. Bharat was called in to bowl the pen-ultimate over with 13 runs needed from 12 balls and only 1 wicket in hand. Mosur peaked at the right time hitting a six-four-four,finishing the game with a bang and concluding a match winning dream innings of 88* which broke some hearts and delighted some. FRCC was clearly frustrated for going so near and yet loosing it all, but this would go a long way for this young side.
On a day that pretty much saw everything, rain, sunshine, thunders, lighting, 376 runs, 19 wickets, great fielding and some heart breaking catch drops by both sides, one near perfect batsman orchestrated the great escape for CCCC ... congratulations to both the sides for playing a great game of cricket.
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