Round 14 – A Calculated Win

Toss and Bowl –
The last game of the second round was against Greystanes at our home ground. Storm won the toss, and for a change elected to bowl after a long time. The strategy was to prepare for the bigger games if we were asked to bowl first. The plan seemed to work to tee within the first five overs when Ram forced the batsman to nick one to Murugs, who perfectly placed himself at flying third slip to take a smart catch. Fantastic piece of bowling by Ram and an inspired move from the captain himself, to get the ball rolling. The next batsman to come in was the first and only batsman till date to score a century against Storm. He signalled his intentions by stealing few quick runs and lofting one out of the park.

Murugs immediately brought in Kannan to arrest the run flow and he did exactly that. The runs were drying up and the batsmen were getting a bit uneasy against Kannan as they were unable to read the line. Attempting a suicidal second run with the hope of outdoing Yuvi’s throw from the deep, Kannan ran the non-striker out. The collection was wicket-keeper like, collecting the ball in half-volley and dislodging the stumps in reflex action. What a sight! The possible thorn in the flesh was gone!

The Beamers, The Ban and The Breakthrough –
Murugs brought in Vinod to bowl the last over before the end of first session to try and sneak in a breakthrough. There was an anti-climax moment when the batsman almost looped the ball in between Vinod and Kannan but didn’t quite carry to either of them. An over that foxed both the batsmen in equal measure, nevertheless. Post the break, Vinod continued to surprise everyone including himself with a mix of quick and slow deliveries. Unfortunately, it had to be a short spell as he was removed from the attack for the rest of the innings for bowling three beamers albeit unintentionally. Roshit came on to complete the over. With three deliveries to finish the over and a bowler being removed off the attack, perhaps the batsman decided to attack. A wild swing from the batsman yielded an unexpected wicket for Storm in the form of a well-judged catch by Rajiv, one of the safest pair of hands in Storm.

Murugs brought himself on to finish things quickly and oh boy, he did he have an amazing outing! Right from the first ball he bowled he gave nothing away. He sent back the opener who hung around for a while, to a beauty of a delivery. It was well collected by Siva Padma who did an excellent job behind the stumps. Murugs came in and started picking up wickets and one stage it looked like the opposition were going to fold up easily. But their skipper and a veteran from their team held the fort together for quite some time until there was some heat generated by Storm’s skipper. Murugs
showed some aggression which perhaps got to the batsman, who hit a ball that was leaving him, straight to Suraj who made no mistake in taking the catch. It was a brilliant catch considering that the ball was dying on him and was hit very powerfully. It was a sight to watch! Suraj’s consistency on the field has been outstanding throughout the season. What a performer he is! The last few wickets were a formality, with a special mention to Avinash’s exemplary catch at mid-off. He was nowhere near the ball but somehow jumped to perfection and took a blinder. That last wicket was frustrating Storm but thankfully our crisis man, Vinod Reddy answered the call this time. He bowled a tight line throughout his spell which frustrated the batsman and the opposition skipper who was playing beautifully until that bad shot, scooped a simple catch to Ram at mid-on. Finally, Greystanes were bundled out for a paltry 119 at the end of the third session. Murugs, the champ took 6 wickets! What a performance!

Storm’s turn to Bat –
With another session’s play remaining, Avinash and Roshit started the proceedings for Storm. Both were very aware of the prevailing conditions and kept their eye on the ball, playing to the merit of it. Early on in the innings, right when it looked like Avi was settling in, he nicked one to the keeper. Unlucky, yet again. It was unfortunate considering the fact that for the temperament that Avi possesses, he would have needed just few overs to settle in and start scoring. Kannan walked in next and perished almost immediately as the ball struck the bottom of the bat and flew to the mid-off fielder. Had the ball struck the bat where it was supposed to, it would’ve disappeared many a mile. Suraj walked in next, yet again when the team was in dire straits. And yet again, he pulled the team out of the sink hole. He sent a couple of deliveries out of the park and was well set to go all the way. Alas, a shot that he plays so well had to be the shot that got his wicket this time. He had committed to the shot early, maybe by a fraction of a second and that cost Storm the prized wicket of Suraj. Siva Padma came in next to see through the rest of the day and he did exactly that with aplomb.

Partnerships lead the way to a convincing victory –
Roshit and Siva Padma started from where they left off last week and started building a healthy partnership. It was good to watch the way Siva Padma blunted the famed bowling attack of the opposition. He simply did not give anything away to them. He came in when the team was in bit of a trouble at 43/3 and departed when the team was well placed at 99. The team puts its money on him and sits back confidently knowing that he wouldn’t throw his wicket away. Great quality! Amazing team player! Siva and Roshit added 30 runs by stealing the ones and twos and the occasional boundaries.
Roshit was caught in front plumb when the team score was at 73. That ended a match defining partnership of 30 runs when the team needed it most in the tense chase. Ram went in next and played out the session cautiously. Ram is such an elegant player to watch. His defensive strokes are crisp and his balance off the back foot is noteworthy. He unleashed the brute in him post the session break. The first over accounted for 15 runs, with the first ball of the session going for a mighty six. From 73/4 Storm cruised to 99/4 in quick time. There was a brief moment of panic when Padma Siva and Ram were dismissed off consecutive deliveries. Greystanes for a moment thought they had the game in their pocket. One of their players even proclaimed loudly “That’s it. They have nobody left” after Ram’s wicket. Still 21 runs to score, Storm players showed little bit of concern. Suraj went for a long walk; we were alarmed but not afraid. This team never loses belief. With Vinod Reddy in the middle and Vinod joining him, we believed that we can win. Everyone stayed positive, most importantly the two players in the middle were very positive. They didn’t let the situation affect their batting and Vinod pulled off some audacious strokes in getting us the match winning lead. A huge six over deep midwicket and a brutal boundary piercing short leg and short midwicket from Vinod’s blade were fantastic to watch. But perhaps the shot of the day belonged to Vinod Reddy – his awesome pull shot towards
the end of the innings when Storm had taken the lead. Even the opposition players were clapping for that brilliant shot. Amid all these tense moments, Vinod Reddy played himself in and showed us what he can do if he gets going. Good to have him back in form in the nick of the time. A big round of applause to both Vinod Kumar and Vinod Reddy, the guys thoroughly deserve it.

Not to Forget –
Murugs’ fantastic field placements and bowling changes and Kannan’s microscopic eye on field placements. Vinod Reddy for his tidy bowling and for his nice little innings. Yuvi, has been in top form ever since the second leg of the season and he continued that in this game too. Varaprasad, the fiery southpaw in the team was always on the prowl for his victims and his devastating second spell is worth a mention. Suraj in the slip cordon has been the safest pair of hands for Storm. Rajiv – an amazing team player with an ability to pluck any cricket ball around him from thin air. Avi’s fantastic work on the field and his on-field camaraderie with the players. Ram’s all round performance is a big difference in this team since his arrival in the second round of this competition. Padma Siva’s terrific work behind the stumps has been a bonus for the team, remember he is not our regular keeper. Roshit’s good work at the top order is worth a mention. He played one of his best innings during the chase, showing straight bat to the bowlers and most importantly moving confidently within the crease. He hardly played a false stroke and his boundaries on the off side were a treat to watch. He has mixed caution with aggression and this approach helped the team immensely.

This bunch has come a long way from where they started. Another two innings to go until the final glory. But for now, one match at a time, more so, one innings at a time. Storm are set to play their Semi-Finals match against arch rivals Rouse Hill Rams, no doubt it will be a terrific contest.

Yuvi’s Words of wisdom –
As always, just go out and give your best in whatever you do and the results will follow!

Wishing the team all the very best!

Scorecard Summary

Player of the match – Murugs (for his fantastic bowling performance of 6 for 25)