Round 3 – Painful Loss

Storm was coming into their third match of the season on a high after their thumping outright victory over Wentworth Leagues in the previous match. In the third round, we were to play Rouse Hill Rams, our favorite team over the years! Rouse Hill Rams won the toss and elected to bat. Storm started the first session with just 9 players as Vinod Kumar and Kannan were running late due to professional and personal obligations.

Murugs and Yuvi started the proceedings for Storm and it was the tidiest start for them yet in this season. Both of them bowled a very tight line and the batsmen were struggling to get going. It was the ideal start any team bowling first would expect. This happened to be one of those days where the bowlers did everything expected out of them and the fielders, the exact opposite. Not being very harsh on the fielders, there was some good work done by Vinod Reddy, Padma Siva and Rajiv. There were 5 catches put down in total, which is not a good number for a quality team.

What was very nice to notice was the manner in which Storm approached each session. There was no hurry to get all the wickets in one big bang, rather the plan was to arrest the flow of runs and make the opposition lose their wickets. And that happened progressively through the sessions. At the end of each session, there were not much wickets taken but the key point was there were not much runs given either. The run rate was always at check. Murugs gave Storm the first break through, an outside edge was taken cleanly by Vinod Reddy at gully. And just before the break, the other opener got out playing across the line. The outside edge was taken comfortably by Roshit off his own bowling.

Kannan joined the team just before the end of the first session, but he couldn’t bowl until the 25th over. Roshit and Siva started the second session. Siva bowled with immaculate accuracy and by far this should easily rate as one of his best days on the field with the ball. He bowled a long spell and his hard work was rewarded with two wickets. The batsmen never really found their foot against him and he frustrated them so much that eventually they got out trying to invent shots. Roshit helped himself with another wicket, a good catch taken by Vinod Reddy. Kannan came into bowl and the batsmen were cramped for runs. Kannan was at his usual best and got three wickets – which included an LBW, a good catch by Vinod Reddy yet again and a simple dolly to Yuvi at mid-wicket. Yuvi was the star on the field on day 1. His diving effort to save a certain boundary was the highlight of the day. Vinod Reddy was brought in a little late than usual and he did what he does always – shatter the timber. Earlier in the day, Vinod Reddy attempted a blinder to pluck one out of thin air off Kannan’s bowling. Unfortunately, the ball didn’t stick to his hands, else it would have been the most spectacular catch of the season. As it usually happens with Storm, the last three wickets started frustrating them, and a simple catch being dropped at mid-on by Roshit did not make the skipper happy. Eventually Rouse Hill Rams were bundled out for 177 at the beginning of fourth session.

By the time Rouse Hill Rams completed their innings, the fourth session had started. With the day light savings being applied, Storm had almost one session to bat. In the absence of Avinash, Vinod Reddy opened the innings for Storm along with Roshit. Although the first boundary was scored off an edge, Vinod Reddy played with a lot of confidence, while Roshit was a bit scratchy. Unfortunately, yet again after a good start, Vinod Reddy was caught in the crease leg before, playing across the line. Kannan came in and made his intentions very clear lofting his second ball over mid-on for a boundary. The runs came in a hurry with Kannan exploding in a measured way. But in a bizarre twist of events, Kannan got out in the most bizarre way possible. He left a delivery that was coming in and watched it break his furniture. The reason could partly be due to the fact that his guard was a foot away from the leg stump. Suraj came in next and the plan was to see through the day. He heaved and missed the second ball, but apart from that one odd shot, Suraj was very cautious and protected his wicket.

Storm finished the day at 59/2. With another 118 runs to get, the match is evenly poised and could swing either way. Storm will rely heavily on their strong batting line up to follow – Avinash, Padma Siva, Pramod, Rajiv, Vinod, Murugs and Yuvi.

The second day’s play gripped the entire team with fortunes swinging wildly for both the teams. Dissecting the proceedings of the day – SSSCI Storm resumed at a somewhat comfortable 59/2, Suraj and Roshit continued from last week. They consolidated the initial nervousness and just when it looked like they were getting in the groove, a needless poke ended Roshit’s innings. Avinash walked in next. Quick wickets fell and the score slid from 89/3 to 93/6 in a sudden burst.

Murugs walked in next knowing the position the team was in. Vinod was already in the middle. Team breathed a little easy at this thought – Vinod is not new to such situations and Murugs can hit a few once he settles in. That is exactly what happened. This partnership silenced the opposition and pushed them to submission. Well almost! A hurried scram for a non-existent run, late call, unlucky direct hit – altogether amounting to the run out of Murugs in the last over before break. Together they added a resurrecting 37 runs.

“He looks nervous mate. Does he bat?” quipped one of Rouse Hill Rams’ men sitting in the pavilion to SSSCI’s men.

“He? The left hander? He’s the coolest in the bunch mate. Hang in there, you’ll see what I’m talking about.” responded Roshit.

And he did see what the talented southpaw is capable of! The man in question is Vinod Kumar and boy did he breathe his life into this almost monumental chase. A mere 9 runs robbed him of his sleep for the next couple of days perhaps and none to blame.

Padma Siva joined Vinod in the middle. And they ran. They ran everywhere there was a run and there was not. They demonstrated what it means for a team when every run matters. They ran 4 runs hitting a ball to the deep. This in itself is a record for the club. But alas, the excessive running became the proverbial devil taking the life out of Vinod’s fabulous innings. One shot too many, he hit one straight up in the air and perished for a well-made 40.

Another 13 runs needed. 2 wickets in hand. SSSCI Storm failed to hold their nerves and gifted the first innings lead to Rouse Hill Rams. With another hour and a half remaining SSSCI Storm sent in Rouse Hill Rams to bat again. Expecting a miracle to happen at the back of their head, SSSCI Storm knew it was more of a training drill. When Yuvi removed one of the openers in the first over, there was excitement all around. Three more wickets were to fall and the day was called at the end of the session.

A lot can be said about what went wrong and who could have contributed better. At the end of the day, it was a great match with the entire team contributing. Discounting the loss, looking at the performance put forward by the team, SSSCI Storm can be very proud the way they played.

Scorecard Summary

Player of the match – Vinod Kumar (for his superb 40 runs which almost won the game for us)