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Round 1 - Nervous Start

2022-23 Season

First game of the season was against Winston Hills cricket team which was played at our home ground. Our Captain called the coin correctly. A good omen to come, I suppose! After winning the toss, we sent Winston Hills to bat first.

On a nice, warm day, Murugs and Varaprasad started the proceedings for SSSCI with the new ball. Winston Hills began their innings steadily not giving many chances to SSSCI. There were few initial intermittent appeals that were turned down; one of them was notably close which led to a brief exchange of words between the captain of SSSCI, the striker and the umpire. A sharp chance was put down by Roshit at point, which did not cost too much as the opener was removed couple of overs later by Murugs. He was clean bowled by a delivery that took his leg stump. The SSSCI bowlers couldn’t capitalize on the opposition’s early blow. Winston Hills, on the other hand were settling in slowly yet steadily. The first session did not yield any more wickets and the runs were coming by at a relatively better rate.

The bowlers were inconsistent in their line and length which allowed the batsmen to settle in comfortably and score runs. SSSCI brought in their frontline spinner Siva and partnership breaker Vinod Reddy to try something different but were unlucky, as the edges did not concede any wickets. Another couple of wickets fell, but not without substantial partnerships. The second and third wickets contributed close to fifty runs together. The fourth wicket partnership was probably the biggest of the day. Runs were being scored fluently and the fact that none of the bowlers were sticking to an attacking length was an added bonus for the opposition, with the exception of Murugs – clearly the stand out bowler of the pack. The fourth wicket was a gift, when the batsman edged the ball which was drifting way past the leg stump to the keeper. Half way through the day, Winston Hills were comfortably placed whereas SSSCI were brainstorming. It is important to mention that, it was not that SSSCI were doing badly, it was just that things were not falling in place for them at the right time. The plan was thought out but the execution was lacking a bit – important learning.

Kannan, the go-to man for the entire team arrived a bit late (way too late!). The third session saw a surge in Winston Hills approach as they started to go after the bowlers. To add to the misery of the bowlers, a simple sitter was put down by Roshit at first slip. There was a bit of a slowdown in the scoring rate as the batsmen decided to see through the day by preserving their wickets but Kannan played a spoilsport to that. He was allowed to bowl from the 42nd over and yet again he showcased his cricketing mind. He bowled a magnificent spell of 4 overs for 7 runs and picked up 3 wickets. Winston Hills were all out for a formidable 231.

SSSCI started the chase with Vinod Reddy and Avinash. Vinod Reddy fell for an uppish flick to square leg. Varaprasad walked in as the night watchman. An error in judgment cost SSSCI another wicket. A dropped catch at second slip prompted a miscommunication between the two in the middle, and by the time Avinash decided to run, he was a tad too late! A direct hit by the fielder did no good to SSSCI’s cause. Suraj and Varaprasad saw through the rest of the day without any more damage.

The chase continued on the second day of the match.
“Think like a cricketer! Back your skills! Be confident and apply yourself! Rest will follow.”

Perhaps the above phrase rings a bell in most of our heads like a temple gong. For few of us it is a monotonous religious prayer we’ve been hearing for quite some time now.

Probably, the source of all this wisdom paused for a minute, thought about it and decided to go all out and demonstrate it! On September 28, 2013 starting at around 3:00 PM, a select few witnessed the demonstration for close to two and a half hours roughly. We finally understood what he meant (if you haven’t, then you probably should pick another sport). Gents! If I have not given enough hints already, I am talking about the boy with the insatiable appetite for nicotine and cricket (in the order) – Kannan Seetharam. And the demonstration was an implausible innings of 98 runs plundered from a mighty opposition who were singing praises for themselves, having humiliated an entire team for 82 earlier in the afternoon.

The day started with the wicket of Prasad, who gave it his everything – an hour of warm-up, practice, mental conditioning et al. Next in was Roshit. Roshit and Suraj showed some resilience, it was edgy albeit. Suraj lofted Winston Hills’ lanky bowler for a superbly timed boundary over mid-wicket. One slog too many and Suraj fell for a leading edge. Murugs walked in next and perished soon to perhaps the ball of the match and also the catch of the match. The delivery sprung up from just short of length, hit the shoulder of the bat and flew between the first and second slip. The first slip dove to his right blocking second slip’s view entirely. The ball stuck to the slightly extended left hand of the second slip fielder. Pramod walked in next and was adjudged leg before although he seemed to have nicked the ball onto his pads. Very unlucky. Rajiv came in and was seeing through the deliveries as the first break was nearing. The main aim was to see through the session without any more damage but it was not to be. Chasing one too many outside the off stump, Roshit nicked one to the keeper and a needless breakthrough was gifted to the opposition. Reeling at 7 wickets and not even 50 runs on the board, SSSCI saw through the session.

The second session added another 30 runs and SSSCI were bowled out for a paltry 82. Rajiv, Yuvaraj and Kannan departing in quick succession. Not surprisingly, Winston Hills put SSSCI to bat once again. Vinod Reddy and Avinash opened the follow-on innings. Yet again, luck eluded Vinod Reddy as he chipped a simple looping chance to mid-on which was gleefully accepted. A change in the batting order was the order of the day for the captain of SSSCI. Murugs asked Kannan to go one down and that is when the mayhem was about to unleash. Kannan joined Avinash in the middle. Avinash was caught in the slip cordon off a well-directed delivery that was leaving him.

Suraj walked in at number four to join Kannan. As Suraj walked in, there was a sense of déjà vu in everyone’s mind. These two have been in a very similar situation the previous season and what ensued was a legendary partnership of brutal hitting. Suraj ended up scoring his first hundred with Kannan supporting him with more than run a ball half century. Kannan and Suraj consolidated the initial threat quite confidently ensuring the good balls were given the respect they deserved. Things were calm until a short ball was dispatched over square leg for a maximum, probably the biggest shot ever hit by anyone in the team. From there on, the runs kept ticking at a brisk pace. A very important point to be noted was – it was not mindless slogging. The entire partnership was an approach – sensible, calculative, aggressive, measured and timed. Suraj was the calmer of the two, quite happy watching things unfold at the other end, although exploding in equal measure whenever there were loose deliveries. At the end of the second session, SSSCI were comfortably placed at 80 odd runs without any damage.

The final session saw a dramatic surge in Suraj and Kannan’s approach as they began seeing the ball much more clearly. Kannan cruised into the nineties with a series of sweeps, cover drives and lofted shots whereas Suraj hit another huge one out of the park. Lack of hydration (and more of age!) was catching up on Kannan as he was fighting cramps on his right thigh. In an attempt to score the much deserved, muchanticipated, much-needed century he edged a rising delivery that went up in the air to be collected by the running first slip fielder. 98 runs. Stamping authority. Signalling the status of a roaring lion. The opposition took note. Winston Hill requested SSSCI’s captain if they could stop play there as it was nearing an inconsequential finish (in terms of outright victory). Murugs checked to see if Suraj was being denied a milestone in terms of statistics – it was not the case to be. Winston Hill and SSSCI shook hands, with shared admiration for each other. SSSCI realized the potential of WH a week back. WH took note of SSSCI’s potential in two sessions. A good start for SSSCI. Much to take from this game for both the sides.

Scorecard Summary

Player of the match Kannan (for his breathtaking 98 runs)