"Jaguars" Colorado Tennis Cricket League T16 Champions
Author: Kuldeep Pandey
Submitted: Jun 14, 2017
CTCL 2017-T16: Super League Finals (Jaguars vs. Scorchers)
June 11, 2017 @ Dry Creek Ground, Longmont, CO
Umpire : Mangesh Sahashrabudhe and Sudarshan Sivaraman
June 11th, 2017 was going to be a great day for a game of cricket at the Dry Creek Ground, Longmont, CO. Weather conditions were almost perfect for the finals of the CTCL T16 Super League – partly clear skies with some clouds scattered around and a gentle breeze picking up towards south-west from time-to-time. The toss would be crucial since the game was going to start at noon with the sun looking to beat down harder as the day progressed. Therefore, it came as no surprise when the Scorchers won the toss and elected to bat first.
Having won all the 8 games leading up to the finals, the Scorchers, with their formidable big hitting were riding high on their impeccable form and confidence; and were looking to end their T16 campaign with a bang! The Jaguars, on the other hand, were looking to carry on the momentum from the 2016 season and exhibited almost a clinical performance, albeit losing just one game in the first round, and tremendous teamwork to make it to the final two. Although, at the player level, most of them had faced each other a few times over the years; as teams, these two were coming face-to-face for the very first time ever.
Dhiren and Satyam walked in looking to go for a big score like their semi-final game against the Anchors while the task for the Jaguars’ bowling was to prevent them from cutting loose. Kuldeep and Saurabh did exactly that with a very tight and disciplined first spell. Saurabh drew first blood in the second over when Dhiren edged a fast and flat delivery that was brilliantly caught in the slips by Amit who dived to his left and virtually snatched the ball inches above the grass. Saurabh struck again in the fourth over when Satish tried to clear the in-field but was caught by Kuldeep running in from mid-on. With the scoreboard reading 14/2 at the end of the first 4 overs, the Scorchers seemed to have been pushed on to a defensive posture by the Jaguars.
Manjeet joined Satyam looking to build a partnership and working out singles and doubles. However, Satyam went after a low full-toss from Srijeet and was dismissed to a difficult catch taken at deep mid-wicket by Philips. Upendra tried to help Manjeet stabilize the innings and played with caution to ensure no more wickets fell before the end of first half-time - the scoreboard read 36/3.
Amit was introduced with the anticipation that he would continue his wicket hunt from the previous couple of games; and, he did not disappoint. Manjeet became Amit’s first victim as he tried to accelerate the scoring; he was caught by Venky who made a valiant dash from long-off and took an extraordinary catch diving forward. The Jaguars’ catching had been immaculate so far. Upendra became Amit’s 2nd victim in the same over when his middle wicket was knocked out of the ground. The Scorchers were 37/5 at the end of the 9th over and apparently in unfamiliar territory of panic. But with a long batting line-up, Durga & Bodha batted through the next 2 overs. Durga tried to hit an incoming delivery from Kuldeep for a big one but was caught by Saurabh at deep mid-wicket. In the same over, Sudhanshu was run out to a mis-field that resulted in an amazing direct hit by Naveen fielding at mid-on. Bodha persevered and kept the scoreboard ticking, however, he failed to get the much-needed support from the other end. Anil was caught by Philips at point to a slower one from Kuldeep while Naveen finally ended Bodha’s innings. Manoj became Amit’s 3rd victim and the Scorchers’ batting folded at a paltry 66 with 2 balls remaining in the inning.
The Jaguars’ bowling was relentless and never allowed the Scorchers to get in to their groove, and their fielding was sharp and crisp.
Probably, for the very first time in the series Scorchers were on the defensive, yet they knew that they had the resilience and competitiveness to give a stiff fight to the opposition under any circumstances. On the contrary, the Jaguars knew very well that if they could work the singles and doubles and not take unnecessary risks, they had the cup in the bag.
With this mindset Swapnil and Philips walked on to the pitch and started off with caution and sensibility to the opening over from Durga. Dhiren bowled the 2nd over with a very tight line and troubled the batsmen with his variations. Perhaps it was the over-caution that got the better of Philips when he was given caught behind by Manjeet off Dhiren after a long and hard look by the umpire. Arpit was sent in to provide initial fireworks, which he did immediately by punishing a short ball from Durga to the boundary at deep extra cover. Unfortunately, Arpit was caught in a mix up and was run out by some sensible fielding on the part of Manjeet. Satyam was brought in to the Scorchers’ bowling attack and immediately put the brakes on the Jaguar’s run chase. Patience and staying-away-from-temptation were the key at this stage; however, Swapnil tried to go for a big shot and managed to only get a top edge that was caught by Manjeet and Satyam ended the over with a maiden wicket.
At the end of 4 overs, Jaguars were 17/3 and the Scorchers believed that they were back in the game. Bodha joined the bowling attack and troubled the batsmen from the very first ball. Runs started drying up for the Jaguars as Mrugesh and Amit tried to steady the innings and focused more on preserving their wickets. Satyam struck again in the 6th over to claim Mrugesh when the latter edged a straight catch to Manjeet behind the stumps.
Although, the Jaguars also bat deep in their lineup, Naveen walked in with a single goal in mind – to stay there until the very end. At half time, Jaguars could manage to score a meager 26 runs for the loss of 4 wickets. The Scorcher's bowling had been very effective at pushing the batsmen on the back foot and was also supported by some very tight fielding; in fact, there were never more than 2 fielders on the outfield in the first half, indicating the aggression in their approach.
The next 4 overs saw Amit and Naveen responding to the tight bowling and fielding with an unusual calm and composed strategy even though runs and balls were almost 1:1. Good balls were left alone, the not-so-good ones were only pushed around, and the bad ones were punished. Amit hit a glorious 4 above the fielder at mid-off while Naveen picked a shorter delivery and smashed it towards the deep mid-wicket boundary. The duo built a much needed 20-run partnership to take the score to 44 at the end of 12 overs and some of the pressure rolled on to the Scorchers side. Amit was run out in the 13th over by some smart and alert fielding on the part of Satyam.
Saurabh, with his ability to work the ball around and easily clear the infield, was the ideal candidate for the finishing job as he walked to the crease. Naveen stepped in to higher gears in the very next over and took on Satyam with two consecutive 4’s. One was hit impressively towards long-on while the other one was meant to unsettle the bowler via a reverse-sweep to the deep backward point boundary. This shifted the pressure entirely on to the Scorchers with just 8 more runs required in the final 2 overs. Dhiren tried his best to plug the run flow but couldn’t prevent Saurabh and Naveen from scoring 7 more runs in the 15th over.
And, finally Naveen hit the winning run on the first ball of the final over and sealed the victory for the Jaguars with 5 balls to spare. The umpires chose to declare a joint Man-of-the-Match – Naveen KP for his match-winning knock of 26 runs, some tight bowling, a wicket, a catch, and a brilliant run out.
Throughout the T16 series, it was on the grapevine that “Scorchers were the team to beat”, since they had virtually dominated all stages of the tournament. It was an impressive run, for sure, until they met a formidable opponent in the Jaguars. Once again, the Jaguars exhibited great discipline with their bowling attack and their fielding was outstanding with some extraordinary catching on the field by Amit and Venkatesh. Passions and emotions ran high as the game progressed, with several moments filled with tension and excitement. The Jaguars were victorious and claimed the T16 cup, while the Scorchers had to content themselves with the runners-up place; yet, the ultimate winner was the game of cricket in this beautiful state of Colorado!
With this the curtains are drawn on the T16 tournament and all the hard work of the CTCL executive members along with all the teams came to an end. Game were played on nine different pitches stretching from Ft. Collins in the north all the way to CO Springs in the south. A total of 25 different teams participated and played the games with much fanfare and passion through the early summer. Well played, everyone!
And, now everyone eagerly looks forward to the T20 tournament that starts on the weekend of June 17th, 2017.
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