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Round 7 – Flogged Around

SSSCI Storm was facing Greystanes for the first time this season. The last time these two teams met, they produced an epic match that is still remembered.

Greystanes won the toss and elected to bat on a nice warm day. The home ground of Greystanes was slightly bigger than SSSCI Storm’s home ground. It was a well mowed beautiful ground with a quick outfield. Prasad and Yuvi started the proceedings for SSSCI Storm and they gave Storm a good start, by restricting the openers from scoring freely. Prasad was fast while Yuvi swung the ball in maintaining a tight line. Prasad almost gave Storm their first breakthrough when he was offered a sharp return catch. To be fair to him, it was a bit too quick for a fast bowler who runs in. A great attempt nevertheless. As it happens most often, Yuvi gave Storm the first breakthrough by trapping the batsman plumb in front. The umpire had no hesitation in lifting his finger up and an early breakthrough for Storm.

The bowlers kept a tight line as runs were hard to come by. The batsmen consolidated the bowling well and were determined not to give away anything to the bowlers. The pitch was a dry one and offered little assistance to the bowlers. By the end of the first session, Storm did not cause any more damage while Greystanes exhibited some solid defence mechanisms. Although the runs were kept at check there were no opportunities being created except maybe the one tough run-out chance. And Siva was unlucky when the batsman stood his ground after having nicked one to the keeper. Vehement appeals from the fielders and the bowler did not convince the umpire to change his decision. Between the two, they batted through for more than two sessions. Storm tried almost all of their bowling options. The pair added more than 200 for the second wicket. The 14-year old lad from Greystanes scored his century in the process.

Finally, Yuvi came in and provided the breakthrough against the run of play by shattering the timber of the other opener. He was gone for 97. With sympathies aside for missing out on a well-deserved century, Storm saw this as a window to push for more wickets. The run-rate was at check for Storm but Greystanes gradually accelerated. They picked gaps effortlessly and the runs kept coming at a good pace. With the new ball available, Murugs brought back Varaprasad and Yuvi. There were uppish shots that were landing in no man’s land. Murugs came in and took another wicket. The batsman scooped a good length delivery which was taken at point. Vinod Reddy came in on the other end and choked the batsmen for runs. With a good total already on the board, the batsmen who followed kept swinging. Almost all the swings found fielders. Suraj’s tight three overs towards the ball replacement period, is worth a mention. He kept the batsmen guessing and bowled a tight line.

The biggest plus for Storm from this game is the improvement in the fielding department. At least 15 runs were saved by accurate field placement and extra efforts from fielders. Catches were put down but none were dollies compared to the previous outing. Perhaps, the only aspect that could have seen improvement was bowling regulation. On the hindsight had there been aggressive bowling at one end keeping the batsmen on toes, things would have been different. That is one area that Storm need to address. At the end of the day, Greystanes batted through their 70 over quota and scored 282, losing 7 wickets.

On the second day, SSSCI Storm started their pursuit of the huge total put forth by Greystanes. 283 in 70 overs with potentially 11 batsmen to do the job. Storm certainly looked like they had a good chance and were very aware of the consequence of the match. A first innings lead would give them the much needed 7 points, more importantly a significant boost to their morale.

Avinash and Roshit started the proceedings for Storm as they have been most of this season. They weren’t expecting an easy start against Greystanes and when the third delivery pitched on good length and took off to the keeper at chest height, it was certain the chase was not going to be easy. A very tight over was seen off by Avinash. In the third over of the match Storm lost Avinash to a return catch to the bowler. A slower one through the air caught Avinash off guard and he scooped it straight back to the bowler who had to stretch a bit to hold onto that one. Varaprasad walked in to fill the shoes of Saravanan. He was caught plumb in front of the stumps to a cracker of a delivery that zipped through after hitting the deck. 2 on 2 and Suraj walked in. Never too unfamiliar with such situations, he walked in again knowing the position the team was in. When the hat-trick ball hit Suraj’s pads Roshit got a mini heart-attack watching a collapse unfold. Fortunately it was drifting down the leg and a reprieve for Storm.

Suraj and Roshit started building the innings by consolidating the bowlers and did not take too many chances. They took the singles and doubles on offer without trying anything fancy and it was a very measured approach against the seamers. Right when it looked like a partnership was building Roshit threw his wicket away. A short ball outside the off stump was guided to the waiting hands of the fielder at gully. It couldn’t get any simpler than that for the fielder. Vinod Reddy walked in next to join Suraj in the middle. And it was a mighty pleasure for the entire team to see him in such fluency. Suraj and Vinod added some quick runs and built a very good partnership. It was a pleasure watching them go after the bowlers. It wasn’t wild hitting but it was all calculated. The good balls were left alone, while the bad balls were severely punished.  Few of Vinod Reddy’s drives and defenses were straight out of the textbook. They saw through till the end of the session. Although 3 wickets were lost, Storm was in a much better position at the end of the session.

The third session started off with the wicket of Suraj to a miscued slog, which crashed onto the stumps after getting an inside edge. A bit unlucky there for Suraj as this is one of the shots he seldom misses. A healthy contribution from Suraj yet again! Well done Suraj! You have been the proverbial pillar for the team since its inception! A healthy partnership came to an end. Murugs walked in next to join Vinod Reddy in the middle. He took no time in settling down and started getting runs along with Vinod Reddy. Known for being quick between the wickets he and Vinod Reddy collected quick ones between the wickets. They both exhibited how a partnership should be built. Murugs played some amazing effortless shots over the fielders. He did not let any of the bowlers settle down. At the end of the session Storm had another good partnership.

As it has been the norm for Storm this entire season, the start of a session resulted in the loss of a wicket. The opening bowler came in to disturb Murugs’ timber with a sharp swinging fuller delivery. An enterprising innings from the skipper came to an end. Skipper leading from the front! Well done Murugs! A leader you are in full capacity! Hold your head high! Saravanan walked in next to join Vinod Reddy in the middle and he did what he does best. Stick to basics. He respected the good deliveries and left them alone and gave nothing to the bowlers. He stood his ground like a typical test player refusing to provide any advantage to the bowler. Although slow, Vinod Reddy and Saravanan started building a partnership. After being patient throughout his innings, Vinod Reddy nudged one to the keeper. A superlative effort from the talented all-rounder came to an end. Right from the very first ball which he pushed to straight-ish mid-on for a couple, Vinod Reddy looked the most comfortable today.

Vinod walked in next to join his old schoolmate in the middle. Vinod gets on with the game from ball one, which is known to the opposition in most cases. A thinker in all aspects, he assessed the bowling conditions and knowing it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, he concentrated on building partnership. Saravanan consolidated while Vinod pushed for runs. The bowlers tried everything to get Saravanan out and he got out to a controversial dismissal. Perhaps, the only way to get him out. There was an air of doubt in the middle as it was unclear if it was a bump ball. Unsure himself, he walked out. A very solid foundation establishing innings from Saravanan. He showed how things can be kept simple by sticking to the basics. Well played Saravanan! Your cricketing skills with the bat is a big plus to the somewhat fledgling top order of Storm.

Rajiv joined Vinod in the middle. Rajiv and Vinod started pushing the bowlers and hit the ball hard to score runs from all around the park. Vinod and Rajiv are known hitters of the ball and they did exactly that. None of the bowlers were spared. A new bowler was introduced to try and unsettle the pair. Rajiv was the casualty here as he tried to poke at a rising delivery that got the edge and flew to the fielder at second slip. Rajiv, during the time he spent at the center hit some powerful strikes to the boundary. It was an example of brutal hitting that the team could use to push the run rate. Well done Rajiv!

Meanwhile at the other end, the flamboyant southpaw was at his usual business – leading the hunt with the tail. Knowing he didn’t have anything to lose, Vinod manufactured runs in his usual unorthodox ways and generated quite a significant amount of runs with the tail. Like it has been most often, his run scoring ability was immaculate and put the opposition in the back foot. There was only one way to stop him from scoring and that was to lure him to throw his wicket away. It was enterprising to watch him steal runs right under the nose of the waiting fielders. And a rising delivery brought an end to his magnificent innings. Dismissed at 40 for the second time. Perhaps a liking for the number? The team would hope not. Well played Vinod! Another feather in your hat. You have been and will be the go-to person in the team.

A special mention to Yuvi and Siva who held the fort till the end. If it wasn’t for the freakish run out of Siva, there wasn’t a way the opposition could take his wicket. The last pair adds a lot of value to the team. And Siva and Yuvi showed exactly what that meant. Looking at the way these two batted, the team has all the confidence in considering them up the order if the situation demands it. Remember, Yuvi has opened for SSSCI once when there was no one to do the job. Another point to underline the batting strength of SSSCI. A good match nevertheless which showcased a lot of positives from Storm’s perspective. The confidence that Suraj, Vinod Reddy, Murugs and Vinod carried has to be emphasized here. It was terrific to see them build the innings rather than panic and lose focus. These kind of partnerships wins matches. Had the top three chipped in, the match well and truly belonged to SSSCI. From what is seen, it is only a matter of time. Here’s wishing 2014 brings in that wonderful time for the team.

Scorecard Summary

Player of the match – Vinod Kumar (for his stand-alone performance of 40 runs)