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Grand Final – The Final Frontier Conquered

The story thus far
First of all, it was a great effort from the team to qualify for the grand final considering the position we were in at the end of the first round. Having got in to a position where we could take home the winners title, the team promised to deliver their best, one last time for this season. Oh boy!!! What a way to deliver what we promised to each other….

Openers Make Merry
The day started positively with Murugs winning the toss and choosing to bat without any hesitation. It was decided in the team meeting that we will not chase in the final if given a chance. The day was perfect for a game of cricket with cloud cover lingering around throughout the day with occasional sun burst. Avi and Roshit started the proceedings, with Avi playing out a maiden over to start with. Roshit was at his usual best and he never missed a chance to score. On the other hand, Avi took his time to settle down but opened up to his natural game soon after. He started walking to the pace bowlers and hammering them over the infield for fours and sixes. It was a sight to watch and the best stroke of his stay was the fantastic shot over deep midwicket for a gigantic six. He coolly walked out of his crease and smoked it over the in-field. The bowler lost his rhythm and never really recovered from the brutal onslaught. Great to watch Avi. Alas, he departed the very next ball trying to repeat the shot again and was bowled. He had done his job though as the openers put on 52 runs for the opening wicket. It was this kind of start that the team was looking for in a grand final game. He not only stayed long enough to dent the confidence of the opposition’s best bowler but also scored quickly to keep the scoreboard ticking. Brilliant effort Avi!

Quick Wickets and ‘The Crisis Man’ to the rescue
Padma Siva went in after Avi’s wicket but didn’t stay longer at the crease. He was unfortunate to receive a gem of a delivery first up and was caught behind. The score still read 52 and two quick wickets caused a stir in our camp. Our ‘Crisis Man’ Suraj walked in next to restore the order for one more time this season. He had done this many times this season so it was not an unfamiliar territory at all. The team was very confident that Roshit and Suraj can get the momentum back for us. Suraj played very cautiously whereas Roshit was free flowing. He did offer few tough chances which the opposition didn’t take but he never allowed that to unsettle him. He regrouped every time he played a false stroke and played within himself. With his ‘Master’ at the other end who regularly (read as ‘every ball’) advised (read as ‘shouted’) him, Roshit played a blinder of an innings in the grand finale. Some of his strokes were pleasing to watch but nothing can be compared to the pull shot six that he hit off the opposition’s best bowler. He knew that Roshit was not comfortable playing the short balls so he peppered him with too many short balls, which Roshit managed to play it down safely but at one point he just pulled one for a majestic six to silence the bowler. That six took him from 49 to 55; a fifty in a grand final is a great achievement. He was also very superstitious that he refused to come out of the ground for breaks as he was getting out after the break throughout the season. At the other end, Suraj was playing himself in and was completely focused on the job. He studied the situation very well and ensured that we didn’t lose wickets unnecessarily. Once again he played few fantastic strokes and the six over midwicket was a standout shot. He got out soon after the second break, may be a lapse in concentration with the team’s score at 114. A partnership of 62 runs at a crucial juncture after the team lost two quick wickets indicates the value of his innings. Had he stayed there for few more overs, he would have changed gears and would have scored many more runs. Nevertheless, Suraj’s brilliant batting form and his constant support and advice which allowed Roshit to play a matured innings, were instrumental in team’s commanding position in the game at that stage.

Keeping Focus
Roshit continued on in the company of ‘Captain’ Murugs who went ahead of Kannan. Murugs played a fantastic innings against this team in the first round and the team was hoping to see another one in the final. I admired Roshit’s knack of keeping his focus during breaks by watching some YouTube videos and having a good laugh. At the end of the day, whatever he did, it worked very well. After 71 valuable runs, he got out lamely to a poor shot but to a brilliant catch at long off. He just scooped the ball and checked his shot at the last minute. Had he gone through the shot whole heartedly, he
could have cleared the rope but it was not to be. A fantastic innings came to an end but
he gave the team a solid platform to build on. Truly a superb innings, Roshit! Good work!

Quick Collapse and an Even Quicker Rebuild
Our beloved ‘Coach’ Kannan walked in to join the captain in the middle. It’s always the case that one wicket brings another and this time Murugs got out to a superb diving catch. His flick was well taken by the fielder at short midwicket, a wonderful effort! Unfortunately Murugs had to walk back and the team’s score was suddenly looking vulnerable at 133 for 5. Ram walked in to join Kannan with a great hope of playing a long innings but unfortunately he was bowled by a slower delivery. We were in real trouble at 134 for 6 which was when ‘Mr. Consistent’ Vinod Kumar joined Kannan. Both of them played sensibly in spite of odd flashy shots. Slowly and steadily they have started to build a nice partnership to taking the score to 165. Kannan was playing some fantastic shots on either side of the wicket and he was a treat to watch. He had hit a superb four over long on and tried to go for another one on a shorter delivery but could only top edge for a simple catch. He was playing unbelievably well and one false shot cut short his fantastic innings. The team is still not out of the woods and with the score reading 165 for 7, the opponents would have fancied their chances. Little did they realize that we have batting till number 11 but it was soon evident when Vinod Reddy joined Vinod Kumar in the middle. From then on, it was ‘Diwali Dhamaka’ from both the batsmen as they simply blasted the opposition out of their saddle. New ball was taken only to see that disappearing to the boundary faster than before. The savage attack totally handicapped the opposition and by the time they realized what happened, these guys had put on 52 runs partnership in no time. Vinod Reddy’s brilliant cameo was cut short by smart bowling from the opposition and he was out for a simple caught and bowled off a slower ball. Vinod Reddy’s innings not only delighted our team and our supporters but caught the attention of the umpires who marvelled his innings. His pull shots were exact copy from text book and he hit them with the audacity of a true champion. What an innings Vinod Reddy garu! Well done.

The tail wags strong
Rajiv joined Vinod and he didn’t wait for long to open up. There was absolutely no respite for the opposition from the carnage that these two inflicted. Terrific power hitting from Rajiv in a partnership worth 36 runs in about 3 overs. Going for his shots, Rajiv was bowled in  the penultimate over of the innings but it didn’t matter. He had done his job, scoring a brilliant 20 runs for himself and for the team. Varaprasad joined Vinod and with just an over to face, went all out before being bowled in the last over. Vinod Kumar remained unconquered with 43 valuable runs and he deserves a special mention about his superlative innings. He had been scoring consistently throughout the tournament going lower down the order but today’s situation was little different. We lost quick wickets in the middle order so he had to curb his natural instinct of going for shots and play sensibly to build up a partnership. He did an amazing job on both counts and at the same time, never missed an opportunity to score on loose balls. His sixes over the cow corner are still lingering in my eyes. His innings made the difference of team finishing with a par score of 210 runs to the final score of 256 runs. Vinod, your innings was simply brilliant and breath-taking!!! It was a treat to watch. You brought smiles to all of us and to our supporters. Well done buddy!

Storm Conquers
This also shows the team’s resilience in tough and back to the wall situations and it’s self-belief to bounce back at any cost. The last three wickets scored 91 runs in quick time which got the opposition off-guard. There were lot of sledging happened on the field but our batters have replied them with a winning score in the end.

So the day finished with our team finishing at 256 all out in 69.3 overs and gave us an opportunity to win the first title for the club.

Our turn to defend
Having made a good score while batting, the team was confident to do well on the second day. All the players came early to the ground for a practice. The weather was fantastic though it was very humid but we hardly complained. What mattered was to have a good match and finish on the winning side.

Perfect Start
Pressie started off from where he had left off in the semi-final. Brilliant first over to start the day very well for the team. Ram continued at the other end and struggled a bit to get control of the new ball. In the third over of the innings, Pressie bowled a low full toss wide of off stump which enticed the batsman to go for a full-fledged shot. What happened next was something to remember for long. The ball flying high above point but it was intercepted by Roshit who timed his jump to perfection and plucked the ball out of thin air. All this happened in a matter of few seconds. It was a blinder from Roshit giving the team an early break. It was a crucial wicket because this batsman can play long innings which we had seen in the previous few games played against this team. In walked, Greystanes captain with an agenda to hold one end. The left hander at the other end was scoring at decent pace to keep the scorers interested. Murugs came on as first change and bowled really well to contain runs. Pressie changed ends and once again bowled brilliantly. There were many chances created but all of them just fell short of fielders or fell in no-man’s-land. Yuvi was brought in few overs before drinks and he too struggled for control in this important match. So at the break, Greystanes finished at 1/56 which is pretty close to the score that we had in the first session where we finished with the score of 52 for 2. To be fair, Greystanes were little ahead of us at the end of first session having lost one less wicket scored few more runs than us.

Breakthrough
Murugs continued in the second session without luck. There was a caught and bowled chance for the left handed opener which he missed narrowly. With scoreboard slowly ticking over, Kannan suggested to bring on Suraj for the left hander. It was a master stroke as Suraj deceived him in the flight and the resultant edge went wide of the lone slip fielder. He bowled really well and got his reward by enticing the Greystanes captain to edge it to Kannan who took a brilliant catch in slips. It was low and falling short of him but he dived forward and ensured that he covered it well. Umpire consulted the leg umpire to check if the catch was taken cleanly which was the case so we got the second wicket and just eight more to go. The 77 runs partnership frustrated us a bit but kudos to the team who kept their calm and fought back well. At the other end, Kannan operated with full control and bowled brilliantly. Batsmen were finding it difficult to read his line and length and on top of that they had to worry about his change in pace. He checked the flow of runs and helped us to claw back in the match. The young lad from Greystanes joined in the middle and we knew we had a big job in our hands. Slowly these two batsmen sewed a partnership which was when the change of bowling worked well for us. Ram was brought back at the far end and he struck immediately by removing the left handed opener who was living dangerously. A flick off his hips legs was well taken by Pressie at short fine square leg. Again it was a wonderful catch which was keeping low and dying on him but Pressie covered it well and took it nicely. Another important breakthrough just before the second break. The second session was slow and steady and this time we finished marginally ahead of Greystanes at half way mark. We were 114 for 3 at the end of 35 overs and Greystanes finished with the score of 112 for 3 in the same number of overs.

Quick Wickets to dent progress
Yuvi came back for few overs in the third session but was not effective and was rightly replaced by Vinod Reddy. This proved to be the game changer as Vinod Reddy delivered from the word go. He bowled in tandem with Kannan who owned the pavilion end on his own. Excellent pressure created by these two bowlers forced the opposition to go for extravagant shots which created a timely opening for us. Kannan deceived the batsman with a nice and fuller delivery thus teasing the batsman to play across and in the air. Vinod Reddy ran to his left at long on and completed a marvellous running catch. The ball was travelling fast and flat but Vinod Reddy covered the ground very well and in the end took the catch comfortably. Timely breakthrough for the team as we didn’t allow any partnership to build like the previous two big ones. Similar to our innings, one wicket brought another and this time Vinod Reddy produced an important breakthrough by dismissing the young chap who was well caught by Murugs at deep cover. Two quick wickets and the team were pumped up. With the match being even, we wanted to win this session to take a strong grip on the match. Vinod Reddy was on song and produced another gem of a slower delivery which was full and straight. Batsman was lured into playing across the line and was dead plumb in front. Three quick wickets now and one can see the panic in the opposition camp. Things were getting better for us as Kannan, who was bowling beautifully, enticed a false stroke from the batsman who holed out to Vinod Reddy at long on. Another good catch from Vinod Reddy but in the process he injured his finger and had to go out for treatment. Murugs filled in for Vinod Reddy for few overs before the session break. Certainly this session belonged to us but considering the overall position, both the teams were on par at the end of third session. We also lost quick wickets in the middle order similar to Greystanes and we ended the third session with a score of 168 for 7 whereas Greystanes ended the session with a score of 163 for 7. What a fantastic match it is turning out to be!

The Magical Catch
The crucial final session will decide the winner hence both the teams wanted to gain upper hand early. Our ‘Non-tiring workhorse bowler’ Kannan provided an important breakthrough early in the final session. After being hit for a slog boundary over deep midwicket, Kannan bowled a fantastic looping slow ball which lured the batsman to play another big shot. But he was not up to the pitch of the ball and the change in pace had done him in and the resultant edge was well taken by Suraj at slips. It was a high catch and with the ball swirling, Suraj called early and positioned himself well and comfortably took the catch planting himself on the ground. It was an important breakthrough as we knew that this batsman can score quickly. Fantastic effort from Kannan and Suraj. With Vinod Reddy still nursing his injury, Murugs continued from the other end. The 9th wicket partnership was slowly building towards our total and we needed to finish the match quickly. Murugs produced two chances and both were dropped, one at slips and one at deep point. As overs ticked by, these mistakes were looking costly as the partnership grew in strength and runs were coming at a quicker pace. At one stage, they needed 44 runs in 36 balls with two wickets in hand and two well set batsman in the middle. Their tail was wagging strong, similar to ours. There was some panic in the middle but once again Vinod Reddy came to the rescue. He bowled well and got the well-deserved third wicket to a brilliant catch by Rajiv at long off. It was an important breakthrough as the batsman was playing wonderfully to top score for his team and the match was slowly getting into the uncomfortable zone for us. Rajiv had to run and cover some distance to reach the ball and took a good catch on the run. One should see his reaction after the catch was taken; he was so pumped up and pumped his fists to celebrate. What a relief it was to break the partnership which was threatening to take the game away from us. Then this happened…. ‘The magical catch’ of the match, may be the ‘Catch of the Season’. Reddy fired one to the last batsman which took the edge of the bat and was going like a bullet in the slip region. Kannan dived full stretch to his right and intercepted the ball extending his right hand to its maximum. All this happened within a fraction of a second. The batsman was totally confused and couldn’t believe what he saw and neither we. What a fantastic catch and superb reflex from Kannan. Considering his marathon efforts with the ball and after almost 5 hours on the field, to pull off such a catch is simply incredible. What followed was something to remember for life. All the players converged on Kannan and quashed him. He didn’t mind it at all 🙂 🙂 Why should he!!! I have seen this kind of celebration only on TV but to be part of it was simply amazing. What an incredible match it was! It had everything – a typical test match style win for the team, both the teams trying to win session by session, both the teams going neck and neck till the last wicket, full of dramas in both the innings… wow.. What an incredible match to be part of! Full credit to the opposition who played extremely well despite conceding a big score and above all, they showed great spirit at the end by congratulating us and leaving the ground for us to celebrate.

The Perfect ‘Storm’
In the end, the victory margin was 42 runs, the amount of runs Vinod Kumar scored in his brilliant and spell bounding innings. His partnership with Vinod Reddy and Rajiv made the final difference. Unbelievable marathon spell by Kannan, brilliant bowling from Suraj, match winning spell by Vinod Reddy, superb performance from Pressie complimented the efforts that our batters put on day 1. Special mention about Vinod Kumar who fought severe migraine but still gave his best on the field. His commitment and dedication was second to none. Great effort Vinod and your efforts are recognized by all of us. The same can be said about Roshit who gave it all on the field and in the process injured himself badly on his face/mouth. His bleeding mouth didn’t deter him to give his best. On a lighter note, that injury kept him quiet during the celebrations thus sparing all of us from his non-stop blabberings :). Same goes to Vinod Reddy who injured his finger while taking a catch but came back to bowl the team to victory. What can we say about Kannan, who was nursing a thigh strain throughout the game and was in visible pain during breaks. But he stepped up when the team needed his valuable service by bowling an amazing marathon spell and taking few superlative catches. The list cannot complete without saying a word about our tireless Captain Murugs who was struggling with leg pain but still pushed on. In the end, all pains are forgotten with a fantastic win. The team salutes you all for your uncompromising dedication and commitment. Great stuff guys. No offence to others who played their part in getting the team across the line. The entire team contributed throughout the season and each player stepped up and supported each other when needed. Overall, the team displayed true grit and resilience and fought till the end. Fantastic victory for the team who played well under the wonderful leadership of Murugs and Roshit with senior players like Kannan, Suraj and Vinod Kumar supporting them wonderfully. Congratulations team for a well-deserved victory and bringing the first title for the club which is a very satisfying feeling for all of us.

I take this opportunity to thank Sivakumar and Sarakum who came to the game and support us all the way. That showed their team spirit and commitment and we are lucky to have them around. Thanks to all our friends and families who came in numbers to cheer for us and of course provided food during the games. No matter what happened on the field, it was your support and encouragement which kept us going and fight back every time. Special thanks to Subbu who answered our SOS calls without any hesitation and helped us during the season. Thanks to our family members who gave us the free handle for 6 long months to play every weekend. Without their unconditional support, we couldn’t have done this. Thanks to the kids who turned up to cheer us. You brought smile on our faces whenever we saw you during breaks. Many thanks for the support and encouragement received from Thunders and Cheetahs. Your time and help are well appreciated by all of us. It’s a fantastic team effort from all the teams to pep each other, practice together and encourage each other to do well during this long season. Last but not the least, a word of thanks will not suffice for the hard work and support that the club provided all along. It’s been a privilege to represent this wonderful club and thanks from the bottom of our heart goes to the club for their unconditional support and help.

Once again, congratulations to the team for the fantastic win.

Scorecard Summary

SSSCI Storm – the Champions of PDCA B6 grade 2013/14 season!!!

Player(s) of the match – Vinod Reddy & Vinod Kumar
(Vinod Reddy – for his fantastic all-round performance)
(Vinod Kumar – for his magical batting worth 43 runs)