FRCC comes of age
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FRCC beat FCCC by 1 wicket.
In an all important face-off between FRCC and FCCC there was something more than pride that was at stake, both the teams were fighting for the elusive final spot in Division-1 for the next stage of Premier League. RBCC, CSCC and LCC have more or less cemented their spots and there is (or was) a three way fight between FCCC, CCCC and FRCC. The winning team today would literally knock the other team out of contention.
After winning the toss, FCCC decided to bat first. Not a surprising decision considering FCCC was playing without two of their reliable batsmen (Gopal Susarla and Mike Riley) and might have thought that putting a decent total and then letting their bowlers handle the pressure was a better option. Ganesh Sharma and Ravi Sajjan started the offensive for FCCC. Ganesh was looking very comfortable at one end while Ravi was taking his time to get his eye in at the other end. Bharat Holla and Havinash Bhaskar took the new ball responsibilities. Bharat and Havinash compliment each other and are definitely one of the best opening strike bowlers in this league this season. They have been consistently giving the valuable break throughs’ at the top. Just as Ganesh was settling down and trying to open up, Havinash takes out Ganesh (13 of 22). Omer Rafiq comes in at the number 3 position. Seeing that both Ravi and Omer were looking very confident against the fast bowlers, punishing the loose deliveries, and leaving alone the good ones, Naveen brought himself to the attack. It proved to be a good move. Naveen with his orthodox left arm bowling was mixing up variations very well and troubled both the batsmen. Seeing the batsmen struggle against slow bowling, Amal was asked to bowl from the other end. And the move proved good and Omer is taken out by Amal (3 of 15). In came Kit Diasabeygunawardena. Being such a gifted player, he didn’t waste too much time trying to make the purists happy by getting his eye in first and then playing shots, but rather started hitting some skiers all over the park right from the first ball he faced. There were many difficult chances provided but most of them had to be converted into catches and were not in anyway easy ones. So, all credit to Kit for some of those clean hits that would have crossed even 100 yard boundary. All this while Ravi was hanging in there at the other end and runs were slowly drying off his bat. Naveen and Sriram Akkella were bowling in tandem and mixed their deliveries brilliantly. Finally after a long stretch of dots, pressure got better of Ravi. He tried to play a shot by shuffling across a bit too much and Akkella foxed him right in front of the stumps with well adjusted quicker delivery (21 of 63). The crucial partnership between Ravi and Kit was worth 45.
With the score reading 84/3, Nadeem Rafiq joins Kit in hopes of accelerating the score a bit and add some flesh to it. Kit finally miss-times a shot of Sriram’s bowling and gets out (35 of 32). Nadeem follows Kit, clean bowled by a great out-swinging delivery (5 of 7). Rajesh Idate and Dipal Patel start their damage control efforts. Both of them did well in terms of stopping the fall of wickets. Though the left-right combination was bothering the bowlers and fielders, both Manoj and Abhishek Chandrasekharkaran did extremely well to constantly probe the offside line for both the batsmen. Both Rajesh and Dipal did well to curb their natural shots and keep the score board ticking. Finally, Abhishek and Manoj took out Dipal (10 of 22) and Rajesh (8 of 20) respectively. Phani Kolla (10 of 10), Mike King (0 of 4), Neil (0 of 9) and Prashant Tank (0*), end FCCC innings at 137.
138 is a very decent target considering the lush green out field of the Lincoln ground where 2’s become 1’s and 1’s end up remaining a mere “waiting – no” type calls.
FRCC had its task cut out and had to pull their socks up, it was high time. After going agonizingly close to victory against some very good teams, FRCC team was very frustrated about their inability to finish that home stretch. During the past few games, the middle order collapsed and was not able to capitalize on some great starts provided by the openers. After a lot of thought process the team think-tank shuffled the batting order slightly in an attempt to provide some much needed stability to the middle order.
Amal Chandran and Abhishek start FRCC’s reply. Dipal and Omer took charge of FCCC’s defense. Abhishek who has been in great form this season started in his usual cautious style nudging singles around. While on the other end Amal started off with a bang hitting a four of the first ball he faced. Unfortunately, he didn’t last long and was taken out by Omer (8 of 10). Sriram joined Abhishek in the middle and they both showed tremendous composure and stuck in there. Though they didn’t score a ton of runs, they saw off the new ball. Dipal in particular going wicket less in 6 overs summarizes the type of innings both of them played. By the time Abhishek is taken out by Phani (20 of 33) the score was 47/2. Naveen comes and goes without troubling the scorers much (0 of 10) and then Tejkiran Balijepalli joins Sriram in the middle with the message from the camp that “partnership” is the need of the hour and they both just did that until Tej was taken out by Kit of a well disguised slower ball (19 of 35). The score board read 97/4 with 41 required from 120 balls with 6 wickets in hand. Sudeep Surendra joined Sriram determined to take the team to the finish line. Sriram played the sheet anchor role for the team today. Though he was dropped three times, he made sure that every life counted and capitalized on it. Finally, he gave in to Mike (25 of 65). After a quick succession of wickets, FCCC was now in driver’s seat and the FRCC was in a very familiar and frustrating territory.
With almost 38 runs required in 60 balls with 4 wickets in hand, FRCC made a very smart move of promoting Natarajan Chandrasekhakaran ahead of Mohit Chhabra. The gamble paid of, Nutty scored 10 of 10, Bharat went and came back quickly (1 of 2). FRCC had nothing to worry as long as super determined Sudeep and ice cool Mohit were in the middle with 3 runs needed from 16 balls.
FCCC were not going give in so easily, they strike back hard by taking out Sudeep and Mohit in successive overs. The hyper active and loud FRCC camp fell dead silent with those two wickets and suddenly it looked like FCCC was going to pour rain on FRCC’s parade. Manoj Manoharan joins Havinash. FRCC was 3 runs away from what was going to be the first victory against FCCC in more than 10 years, and FCCC was 1 wicket away from what could be just another victory. With 11 balls remaining, Manoj lofts one over the covers and takes 2 runs, the game was tied. Even before anybody talked anything about tie, he scores the winning run to trigger the celebrations for FRCC. Sreeram was declared (maiden) MoM for his contributions both with the leather and timber.
Though two of the rock stars for FRCC (Naveen and Bharat) had an off-day at the office, the team responded to captain’s clarion call, and it was only fitting that two of the former FCCC players put the final nail in the coffin.
After the game, one of the FRCC guys curiously asked, “So this is how it feels (to win) huh?”
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