Round 8 – Season Defining Game

The second round started off in the New Year 2014 with a one day game against the table toppers, Winston Hills.

Coming together is a beginning.
Keeping together is progress.
Working together is success.
Henry Ford

In the words of Henry Ford, SSSCI Storm came together, kept together and worked together to achieve success in a resounding manner! It’s hard for any team to do what Storm did, after conceding four back to back first innings lead. How did Storm do it? Read on.

Pre-Match Plan
The two week Xmas break was a good breather for Storm to regroup and have a foresight into the reminder of the season getting into 2014. The first and foremost thing was to leave behind what happened up until now and take one match at a time with a positive frame of mind. The practice match during one of the weekends served as a good opportunity to assess new players. Having played Winston Hills earlier in the season, we knew we needed a strong batting line-up.

The Toss and First Session
Murugs and Roshit had a brief discussion just before the toss and decided to bat first in the event that the toss is in favor of Storm. Storm won the toss and elected to bat. As usual, Avi and Roshit started the proceedings for Storm. The very first ball got the edge of Avi’s bat and flew to the third man area for a boundary. Edges or straight bat, runs nevertheless for Storm. The very next ball was bang on the stumps and caught Avi plumb in front. The pace did him in as he had no time to move his feet. Padma Siva walked in next, well aware of how crucial his role was. Roshit and Padma Siva consolidated the initial burst of raw pace and kept their wicket intact without trying anything silly. The odd boundaries came to keep the scorecard ticking. Padma Siva was looking good and settled until a full length delivery caught him in front of the wicket, a tad unlucky perhaps as he was seen waving his bat to the umpire. A job well done, counting his contribution in terms of partnership and the duration he spent in the middle.

Suraj walked in next with Storm a little better than the earlier situations, where he had to come in and hold the fort together. Suraj was into the scheme of things almost immediately. Roshit was much more comfortable in Suraj’s company as the new bowler was smacked for a six and two fours in his first over. A simple sitter was put down at short fine leg giving Roshit a reprieve. Roshit and Suraj built a healthy partnership with a flurry of shots and the first break was called in as Suraj hit one out of the park and into the pool of the resident neighbour.

Second Session and the onslaught
As it has been the norm with Storm, with a break comes a breakthrough and Roshit perished in the very first over after the break. He was bowled for a nothing shot. The newest recruit to the team, Ram walked in next. He was rightly promoted up the order for the fantastic show he put up in the practice match. But it wasn’t his day to shine with the bat as he was adjudged LBW standing well outside the crease and with the height in question as well. Vinod Reddy walked in next to join Suraj in the middle. Suraj who was going in full glory committed suicide by gifting his wicket. He landed one straight into the hands of the cover fielder. He looked so good to go all the way! For the time he spent in the middle, it was a pleasure watching him play from the pavilion. Murugs walked in next to join Vinod Reddy in the middle. Murugs pushed for the non-existent runs and kept adding to the total. Vinod Reddy looked in ominous touch as he deposited one over mid-wicket at least 15 rows behind. But a waist high full toss consumed him as he scooped it up in the air to be caught at mid-wicket. Good aggressive approach nevertheless. Vinod walked in next to join Murugs in the middle and was keen to continue from where he left before the break. Murugs and Vinod – known for their aggression out in the middle, unsettle any opposition on any given day. And that is exactly what they did. Case in point – Winston Hills’ skipper and only spinner was forced to bowl medium pace after his leg breaks were deposited outside the park at least 4 times by these two. A glorious six by Murugs over mid-on and two brutal hits over where else but cow corner by Vinod unsettled and owned the bowler. Murugs and Vinod had Storm steaming ahead at a good run rate until Murugs was cleaned up. Another knock by the skipper leading from the front. Rajiv joined Vinod in the middle as he was going about his usual business smacking anything and everything in sight. A slower delivery from the most unorthodox bowler from the opposition got him out, as he nicked one to the keeper. A mighty knock yet again proving what he is worth to the team!

Saravanan joined Rajiv in the middle and saw through the initial deliveries. Rajiv, known for his huge hits was finding it a bit difficult to middle it but was very keen to stick around till the end, which he did. A short ball got Saravanan off-guard and he was caught at short square leg. Hemanth joined Rajiv in the middle and tried to hit a few as well. A special mention to the last pair who added 18 valuable runs which contributed significantly to the team’s total. At the end of the innings Storm finished at 190/9 in 40 overs.

Bowling – First Session
Hemanth and Yuvi started the proceedings for Storm. Hemanth was firing it in from one end while Yuvi was asking some serious questions with his inswingers. Both of them maintained a tidy line without conceding much runs, except maybe one or two odd boundaries. Roshit and Rajiv came in to replace Hemanth and Yuvi respectively. Rajiv gave Storm the first breakthrough when the batsman played on. Rajiv’s tight line frustrated the batsman and ended up falling prey to Rajiv’s trap. The next batsman to come in was a bit shaky, spotting this Murugs brought in Yuvi to get him out. Very eager to get off the strike he tried to score a non-existent run, but was caught just short of his crease from a direct hit by Roshit at mid-on. From here on, the batsmen started playing sensibly and preserved their wickets. The runs kept coming through lofted drives and few shots cleared the ropes. At the end of 20 overs, Winston Hills were well placed at 99/2, needing another 92 in 20 overs. It was not a tough ask as Winston Hills bat deep. Murugs had a brief conversation with the team and conveyed the message; the plan was going to restrict the free flow of runs and entice the batsmen to throw their wickets.

Vinod Reddy, Yuvi and Murugs bowled the major chunk of the first ten overs of the remaining overs and they did a remarkable job at it. Even singles were hard to come by. The field placement was spot on and there was absolutely no scope for scoring. This prompted the batsman to manufacture runs and in the process a loose shot was played. No connection was made and Murugs rarely misses target, as the off stump was dislodged. With a new batsman in, Storm did not waste the opportunity to get more. Storm were absolutely on their toes in the field – no major fielding lapses, spot on field placement, no sitters being dropped, tight wicket-keeping and above of all cricketing sense prevailed. If the batsmen had to score then he had to try and manufacture. 

The Climax
Five overs had to be covered by part timers since Vinod Reddy had bowled out and, Yuvi and Murugs were needed at the death. Roshit bowled a disaster over to give Winston Hills the advantage. The next over was bowled by Suraj who bowled beautifully except for the last ball which was dislodged over mid-wicket for a humongous six. Suraj was unlucky as a skier was misjudged by Roshit at long off. The equation came down to 32 runs required off 36 balls with five wickets remaining. Yuvi had one over to go, Murugs had two, and still two overs to cover. Yuvi came to bowl his last over and the pressure got the better of the well settled batsman, as he nicked one to the waiting hands of Padma Siva behind the wicket. What a breakthrough! Storm roared but calculated the equation with caution.

16 runs required of 18 balls and 4 wickets to go. Murugs threw the ball to Ram and gave him the confidence to bowl to the wickets. Perhaps, the over of the match. Ram first induced a false shot of the batsman who top edged a pull shot which was well taken by Yuvi running in from mid-off. In the same over, Ram removed the other batsman who top-edged a heave to Avi, who was excellent in cover point area throughout the day, for a well-judged simple catch. What a find this lad has been for Storm!

The penultimate over was to be bowled by Murugs. Murugs’ efficiency at death is no secret. The first couple of balls yielded quick singles. The next one, was another top edge which was well judged by Rajiv running in. What a wicket and at what time!

Great cricket from Storm. With just one wicket in hand, and not much runs needed, the new batsman walked in to the non-strikers end. A single was taken and the last man in was to take strike. It was Murugs’ final over; if he doesn’t finish it here then the match is taken to the final over. Murugs took aim and darted one to the last man’s pads, which was straight in line with the sticks, “Howwzzaaaat” screamed Storm in unison to which the umpire responded slowly by raising his index finger, awarding the match to the better of two teams on the day – SSSCI Storm. What a game it was and what a performance by both the teams.

Such a brilliant win prompted to write about the players in detail and about their contribution. Given the fact that it was the first loss for Winston Hills in two seasons, made this win a real special one.

This win is one of the best examples of team effort. Literally everyone contributed in this narrow win. Let’s look at the players involved and their contributions in this game.

Lead the team from the front. When he went into bat, it was such a crucial time for the team. He batted brilliantly, scored his runs quickly which unsettled the opposition. His partnership with Vinod Reddy first and then with Vinod were the defining moments in our big score. Well batted Murugs and the beautiful six over long on still remains in memory.

Most importantly, Murugs excelled in rotating his bowlers. He has shuffled the bowlers well and gave short spells to all of them. He brought himself late in the innings and got crucial wickets when the team needed them the most. He also was willing to listen to the team members on fielding and bowling changes which was crucial in the scheme of things. Overall, he displayed fantastic skills captaining the team and should be proud of his wonderful efforts. 4 for 28 in 8 brilliant overs is a testimony for his bowling along with well struck 22 odd runs with the bat. Well done Murugs.

A key member to the team and the Vice captain as well. Everyone knows how good he is on the field and once again he displayed it brilliantly in the game. I still cannot forget the direct hit from mid-on to get the batsman short of crease. Brilliant pick up and throw and it was a much needed breakthrough for the team. I would rate his batting efforts more than whatever he did in the game. What a performance it was. Not only he negotiated the best bowler in the comp with more authority, he dispatched the loose balls with disdain when the opportunity came by. No wonder he top scored with 38 valuable runs at the top of the batting order. He was in fantastic touch and against run of play, got out to a loose shot. I am sure he will learn a lot from this experience and will go on to make a big score in the coming matches. Well played Roshit and you have been a great support to Murugs on and off the field carrying this team forward.

The veteran in our team who once again took up the challenge and did very well. He was cautious at the start but started to find his grove slowly. It was a delight to watch his shots. He made a well compiled 30 odd runs before getting out to a loose shot. But the best of his contribution came when we were on the field during bowling. He was like a small kid with so much energy and so much enthusiasm and literally encouraged everyone on the field to give their best. Not only he rolled his arms to get a wicket when the team needed him to fill in to bowl at death, he studied each batsman very well and asked the captain and bowlers to bowl a specific line and length. I personally still remember him saying “Give all that you have Yuvi. Give your best every ball” when I bowled my last few overs during the tense chase. The motivation, the encouragement and above all the positive energy he displayed was amazing. His positivity was so contagious that everyone in the team stayed so positive and gave everything that they had. Well done Suraj. Your kid like enthusiasm was superb and wish to see more of that in the remaining games.

Padma Siva
Gosh… this guy can do anything. He can bowl if the team wants him to. He can keep wickets if needed. He can go at any batting order if the team requires him to do so. What a versatile player. He went in to bat in the first over and what a courageous display it was. He simply blunted the bowling attack and in the company of Roshit, played beautifully. He may not be technically perfect batsman but he will do the job for the team. The time he spent in the middle to blunt the new ball attack was so crucial for the team in getting to the final score of 190 runs. Well played Siva.

His best for the day was his performance behind the wickets. Mind you, he is a part time keeper but he showed exemplary skills behind the wickets. He saved at least 3 or 4 certain boundaries down the leg side. Great effort Siva. You truly gave it all for the team. Well done!

He is another guy who has got tremendous potential and on his day, he can be a match winner. Unfortunately he missed out in the batting but he very well compensated that with his fielding. He was like a rock sold fort at point region. The ball hardly went past him. To cap it all, he took a fantastic high catch at a crucial time. Brilliant effort Avi. Wish to see you firing with the bat in the coming games. You have the skill and you have to just play straight for few overs before you unleash your shots. Go for it buddy! The entire team is backing you!

What a find he is! We all know how good a batsman he is but unfortunately he got a wrong decision when he batted. But he made a telling contribution in the game with the “Over of the match”. When we had to defend 16 from 3 overs with 4 wickets in
hand, Ram turned the match on its head with that crucial super over. Remember, it is his first game in PDCA comp and also the first game for us. Except for the practice game last week, he hasn’t played for a while. But he never allowed those thoughts to unsettle him and was completely focused on the job in hand. He believed in his skills and we can see that in his body language. He really wanted to do it for the team. He bowled stick to stick line and enticed the batsman to force the play. Runs were hard to come by and he reaped rewards by getting two crucial wickets. Brilliant Ram and hoping to see many more such heroics in the coming games. Well played.

Great to have him back in the team. A fantastic all-round player and a good addition to the team. He is coming after almost 4 years exile from cricket. It hardly mattered as he bowled one of the fiercest opening spell. He was rusty but he unsettled the batsman with his raw pace. With some more practice, he will have a key role to play in team’s success. The telling point of his ability was showcased during batting. His crucial 7 runs in the end was all the difference between winning and losing. He managed to play out the last few overs instead of throwing his wicket. Well played Hemi and hope to see you in full flow in the coming games.

Another all-rounder in the team. He always surprises the team with his crucial performances when least expected. He batted wonderfully with Vinod and stayed till the end. He is known for big shots but in this innings he couldn’t time the ball well so instead chose to rotate strike and was willing to stay till the end. His last wicket partnership with Hemanth was the final difference in this game. Good attitude Rajiv and good to see you doing well. He got the team the first breakthrough when we bowled. He has got pace and with some more bowling time, he will be a useful option when needed. Again, he always surprised the team in batting or bowling or fielding. The catch he took towards the end of the game was a superb effort and he made it look so simple. With fading lights, he covered and plucked the catch with the match hanging on that. Well done buddy!

I have never seen Sarav like this before. He was fantastic on the field, saved many runs and was on fire on the field. He is one person who went above and beyond to give everything he had in his tank. With such great attitude and interest, it was great to see him excel. Though he missed out with the bat, I am sure he will come strong in the remaining games. Great effort Sarav. Keep it up!

Vinod Reddy
He is certainly settling down well in the lower middle order in the batting line up. Played beautifully with Murugs and got the team to a good position. Very elegant and cool player in the team. Once again he found odd ways to get out, this time got out to a full toss ball. Stay positive Vinod, back your instincts and play your natural game. You are too good a player to come short of scores and I am sure a big knock is around the corner. Don’t give up and play positively. The team is always behind you and wanting you to succeed.

Our man for the crisis moments. What a display of arrogant batting from this superstar. A consistent performer for the team this season. Loved all his sixes sitting at the sidelines. Luckily I was not bowling to him, Well played Vinod. You were the difference between the team getting 190 runs instead of about 160 to 170. Fantastic stroke play. Keep it up. I liked your running catch at long on, it was simply superb. I was at deep cover and had the best view when you took the catch. Superb effort, running in fast and taking the catch. Well done Vino!

After a long time, I really felt good with my bowling. Except for few bad balls, I was able to stand up for the team when it was needed. I cannot forget the encouragement I got from the entire team especially from Suraj. I was pumped up and really wanted to do well. Glad that I could turn up and do well on this day. Though I didn’t get many wickets, I was happy to contain the runs. Hope I will continue to improve and peak at the right time for the team.

Summary Scorecard

Player of the match – Murugs (for his captaincy and brilliant all-round performance)