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Round 10 – An Amazing Turnaround

Giant slaying by SSSCI continued as we defeated the table toppers Rouse Hill Rams in an unbelievable game. 30 overs into the game, none would have given us a chance when we were reeling at 65 for 7. What an amazing comeback by the team through the magical hands of Ram and his brilliant partnership with Varaprasad. Hang in there, it is just one part of the story to unveil for the day. Though the final score of 141 was very much within the grasp of the mighty batting line up of Rouse Hill Rams, it’s Varaprasad’s turn to compliment the effort of Ram with a magical spell which broke the backbone of the opposition. Truly an unbelievable game on an unbelievable day!

It all started with Murugs winning (yes, he is winning tosses these days 🙂 ) the toss for the third consecutive game and he chose to bat first on a very windy day. It was a 50-50 risk in such windy conditions and bowling first could have helped but the team decided not to break the winning formula that the team maintained in the last few games i.e. bat first, put up a total and defend. To complicate the matter, the ground was too small in straight boundaries with two rugby goal posts on either side of the long on boundaries. It was not a pleasing sight but we had no choice.

The best bowler from the opposition team started the proceedings with Padma Siva taking guard to face the first ball of the game. He prodded and defended few balls before the temptation of a full length delivery got the better off him. He was well caught in the covers with the ball hitting very high on the bat, which is not where Padma Siva intended to hit thus ballooning a simple catch. RHR (Rouse Hill Rams) drew the first blood in the very first over of the game. As always the case, our “Rahul Dravid” Subbu went in and received a beauty of a delivery first up. According to him, he was plumb in front but lucky for us, it was turned down thus completing an eventful first over of the match.

The opposition went on the attack by bringing in another good bowler in the other end. Roshit was up to the task and played out the over sensibly though we were hardly scoring any runs. Both the bowlers understood the prevailing windy conditions and reduced the pace on the ball and just bowled on good line and length which made it much more difficult for our batters to score runs. The ball was swinging so much in the air and it was hard for the batsmen to negotiate. To add to our woes, the ground field was at its worst. The ball doesn’t travel at all on the ground so scoring singles in the
circle was next to impossible. Roshit scored the first boundary of the day with a slash over point region and unfortunately it was his only scoring shot for the day. With the team struggling to get the scoreboard moving (we were 7 for 1 in 9 overs), he tried to invent a shot by playing across to a full ball and was given out LBW. His long and hard vigil ended in a wrong note and at the wrong time for the team.

Our team’s ‘Mr.Elegant’ Suraj went in at a crucial juncture. The team needed him to be there in the middle as long as he can and bail the team out. Suraj and Subbu are very capable and both have plenty of experience in such situations. Unfortunately it was not to be today. Suraj was clean bowled by an incoming delivery which he misjudged and didn’t offer a stroke. Suddenly we were 8 for 3 in 13 hard fought overs with the two top run getters for the team back in the dugout. That’s when the captain stepped in. He went ahead of Ram given that we may or may not have the services of our consistent batsman Vinod Kumar today so leaving Ram to shore up the late middle order. What a master stroke it was! Given the precarious position that the team was in, Subbu decided to open up and tried to score few runs but played a shot across the line and was given LBW. The team was in despair at 11 for 4 in 15 overs.

Vinod Reddy joined the captain to take up the hot seat. Both of them played very positively and started attacking the bowlers from the word go. With this approach, the scoreboard started ticking albeit slowly. Vinod Reddy was more cautious of the two and it worked in our favor with one batsman trying to hold his wicket and the other trying to attack. Both of them played sensibly and at the first break the team was tottering at 27 for 4 in 20 overs. The pair resumed after the break and added 12 more runs before Vinod Reddy playing a casual stroke across the line and was cleaned up.
Half the team was gone with the scoreboard reading 39 for 5 in 24 overs. Ram went it and he knew he had a big role to play today. He started off very slowly and watchfully which was the need of the hour. At the other end Murugs was playing freely and had hit some wonderful shots to the boundary. His famous lofted shots over the bowler‘s head were his most profitable shots for the day and in no time he raced to 36
beautifully crafted runs. Again he threw his wicket away when things were settling down a bit and after scoring two consecutive boundaries in the same over. He too played across the line trying to place the ball for a single, but completely missed it and was clean bowled. Another fantastic innings from the captain when the team needed the most and when the team was in dire straits. Well done Murugs and every run was worth its weight in gold.

It was 63 for 6 in 28 overs when Rajiv walked in to join Ram. The opposition was operating with a slow spin bowler who was causing little trouble to Ram and Rajiv. At one stage, Rajiv lost patience and skied a shot which was well taken by the fielder who came running from midwicket. Unlucky for Rajiv and for the team. The team was in deep trouble reeling at 64 for 7 in 29 overs and finished at 65 for 7 in 30 overs with only the tail enders to come. Varaprasad joined Ram in the middle and started the repair job. We all know that he can bat and he proved it today. Both Ram and Pressie batted brilliantly mixing caution with aggression and stitched a match winning partnership. Having been in the middle for more than 7 overs, Ram settled down well and started to open up. His strokes were pleasing to watch. None of them were mad shots but pure cricketing shots. He took on the opposition bowlers and dismantled them cleverly. They placed 4 men on the leg side boundary but Ram still pierced them. The opposition lost momentum with his assault and their heads were dropping. They were showing signs of desperation. They tried changing bowlers but the results were the same, the ball was disappearing over the boundary at a greater speed. The six down the line over the bowler’s head was the shot of the day for me. It was much more enjoyable given that they had two fielders placed to cover that area but the power with which Ram hit the shot was mindboggling. Amazing bat speed and  fantastic placement. In the meantime, Pressie was helping himself with few valuable runs and rotated the strike very well without throwing away his wicket. After 55 invaluable runs, Pressie lost his wicket to a good catch to the best bowler of the day from the opposition team. Fantastic work by Pressie. When the team needed him to show his mettle and oh boy, he did show what he is capable of.

In went our team’s ‘Mr. Consistent’ Vinod Kumar with the scorecard reading 118 for 8 and four overs to go. He doesn’t need a free ticket to hit out and that’s exactly what he got today. With Ram going strong at the other end, Vinod played few crisp shots on the off side (Yes, you are reading correctly, he scored his runs on the off side 🙂 Vinod, don’t take it wrong, it was pun intended 🙂 ) with the upper cut over the point for a boundary being the best shot from him. He was caught at deep midwicket when he was going for quick runs but he played his part in helping Ram to make a well compiled half
century.

The ‘One Dollar’ man Yuva went in next with two overs to play and all I have to do was to give strike to Ram and watch the show. I did my best to play out one over without losing my wicket as I remembered how I disappointed the team against this very team the last time we played. In that game, I got out to an atrocious shot when the team needed just 9 runs to win but it was not the case to be today. The team cheered for every ball I played without losing my wicket and it felt good that I didn’t disappoint them. Ram got out to a brilliant catch at square leg in the final over for a brilliant and brutal innings of 62 invaluable runs. His innings was well paced and his calculated assault was the difference between the team reaching 100 runs to scoring 141 in the end. Through his sheer brilliance, the team more than doubled the score that it had at the 30 overs mark (65 for 7 in 30 overs to 141 in 39.1 overs. 76 runs in the final ten overs with just handful of wickets to play with). Superb effort Ram and you showed your class today. Very well played!

So at half way mark, we were happy to settle for this score given the conditions that we were in most part of this game. It was up to the bowlers to step in and defend the total and pay justice to the batters who fought hard for the team. By the time we took the field, the wind has eased considerably so expecting any assistance from the wind was ruled out. Our plan was very simple, bowl good line and length and dry up the runs. Subbu started the proceedings and bowled a tight first over. Pressie started in the other end and he built on the confidence that he gained from his batting today. His first two overs were maidens and the opposition was finding it hard to get him away. Subbu drew the first blood for us enticing the opening batsman to slash a ball which was too close to his body thus spooning a simple catch to the short third man. Yuva didn’t
make a mistake and it was one down with 9 more to go.

Pressie then breathed fire in a matter of three overs. He simply destroyed the opposition top order by grabbing four important wickets. The first one was LBW, the second was a beautiful catch by Murugs at short midwicket to send the opposition’s best batsman back. These two wickets were very crucial because these two batsmen could have taken the game away from us. The third and fourth wickets were ‘clean bowled’ and my favourite was the last one where the ball completely deceived the batsman who was clean bowled between his pad and bat. Fantastic effort from Pressie with the ball. He was involved in the match winning partnership during batting and was involved in the match winning bowling performance too. Going by history, somehow RHR brings the best out of him when it comes to his bowling. His dream spell in the semi-final (in the B10 grade, few seasons ago) against RHR was unbelievable (8 overs, 12 runs for 5 wickets). Good to see you in your stride Pressie. Keep it up in the remaining games.

Yuvi came in as the first change bowler and kept an excellent line to account for the wicket of the opener who was playing for a while. It was a caught and bowled chance which Yuvi accepted comfortably. Suddenly RHR were pretty much in the same position that we were when we batted. They were 20 for 6 in 12 overs and their misery continued when Padma Siva stunned the batsman (and himself 🙂 ) with a brilliant stumping off Sivakumar’s bowling. Sivakumar bowled brilliantly and changed the pace cleverly according to the batsman. The opposition decided to go on the attack and scored some useful boundaries during this passage of time. But it was our day today which was clearly evident by the stunning catch that Suraj took in the slip cordon off Sivakumar’s bowling. The batsman was stunned and for a second he didn’t realize what had happened. It was a sharp catch which was very low to the ground but most of all, it was deflected by Padma Siva off his thighs. Suraj was very watchful and alert to all the happenings and pulled off a heist in the end. Brilliant catch Suraj. Well done!

So we went to the first break with the opposition in a sorry state of affairs with 8 wickets down for 44 runs of 20 overs. With lights fading, it was important for us to wrap up the game quickly which is when the captain showed his magic with the ball. In the second over after the break, Padma Siva took a low catch just in front of him off Murug’s bowling. It was a fantastic catch given that the ball was dying on him. Good work behind the wickets, Padma Siva! Keep it up! The last batsman walked in and Murugs wasted no time in clean bowling him off the first ball he faced. Brilliant stuff and the jubilation started!!! Oh what a feeling!!!!

Overall, it was a brilliant team effort that allowed us to cross the line. Everyone understood their role and gave more than their best for the team. Amid all these things, it is important to thank few players for their commitment. Special thanks to Vinod Kumar for answering team’s request to come and play in spite of few important domestic commitments that he had. Very much appreciated Vinod. Also special mention about Subbu who filled in when we could not get 11 players for the game. He came out of his self-inflicted retirement and played an important role in mentoring,
showcasing his skills for the team. Thanks a lot Subbu. Not but not the least, a word of thanks to our team’s mascot of the day, Master Ashwin. He came in early and enthusiastically participated in the drills, hung around to cheer the team and was a happy boy in the end. On behalf of the team, I would like to thank and appreciate them for showing fantastic commitment to the team when it was needed.

A day that didn’t start well but with our grittiness we made it a fantastic day. It was a superb win against the top team which is really a morale boosting victory for the team. As we enjoy, we must remember to take away few valid lessons from this game. Our top order has to click like how we did against Winston Hills. Remember, it is going to be all two day games from now on so the batters have to play a lot longer and rotate the strike to keep the scorers interested. Bowlers and fielders must continue to keep up the good work and support the batsmen. As a team we are clicking now and the morale is high within the team. Everyone is enjoying the company of each other and most importantly we are much more relaxed than before. Let’s continue to give our best and enjoy the game. If we do that then we don’t have to chase the result that we want, it will come to us. The main thing is that the other teams have started noticing us now. They now know that we are not an easy push over. A classic example was when a guy from RHR (B9 grade) who were playing in the adjacent ground, came to us and looking at the scorecard (we were 41 for 5 at that time) asked how did we defeat Winston Hills team few games back. I am sure by the end of the day, he got the answer. We played as a team with lot of maturity and in a relaxed mood. With everyone willing to contribute to the success and back each other, it is the best place to be. Let’s continue to give our best in the remaining games and keep up the momentum.

Well done team and well played. Go Supersonics!!!!

Scorecard Summary

Player(s) of the match – Ram & Varaprasad
(Ram for his amazing batting, top scoring with 62 runs)
(Varaprasad for his superb bowling of 4 for 16)