WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN!!!
So, after a good start to season with a win, our cricket team had to take on the might of PACC (Pakistan Association Cricket Club) at home. PACC is a very good team and it is very tough to beat them - home or away.
Luckily for us, all our "star" players returned back to action and we fielded a very strong team. With our current availabilities, this was probably the best team we can field and only 1-2 positions in the line-up were debatable. All of us were keenly awaiting this evenly poised contest.
Sadly, weather again decided to play a spoilsport and the overnight rain ruined the pitch enough to delay the start of the game by an hour. All the stores ran out of saw-dust and we had to use mulch and pine strauss to dry the wet patches in the vicinity of the pitch. After a long patch-up project, the game started at 11 am.
We lost the toss (again) and had to bowl (again). PACC had a strong batting line up consisting of very attacking batsmen up to number 8 and we had to make sure that they do not get the headstart very early.
First over went very well, but we dropped a catch in the gully region. Luckily, it did not prove very costly as I could get the opener caught behind in my first over. But that did not dent the batting team by much. They got on with their job slowly and steadily. Their 1-down batsman got a lucky life when the umpire failed to notice a clear nick brilliantly taken by our keeper. But he did not make much of the life as he was caught to a excellently judged catch on the boundary in the next over. Their number 4 batsman (and their captain) came in and was dropped in the first over he faced. Again, he was brilliantly caught in the next over and did not get the opportunity to make us pay a lot for our mistakes.
The other opener was riding on his luck that day. He did not play even 1 convincing shot, nor was he dropped even once, but still he made 47 before his luck ran out. Most of his shots landed in no man's land or just evaded the fielders by a few metres.
But then on, PACC proved why it is rated so highly in the league. Their batsmen put their heads down, cut down on all the flamboyancy and continued milking our bowling for 1s and 2s. At the 2ND break, they were a very healthy 117/3 in 24 overs. 11 overs remained and we were bracing ourselves for a pasting in those 11 overs.
Another twist in the turn though - we came up trumps in this session. Good catching and quick fielding ensured that we kept this famed batting line up on a tight leash and we got them all out for 175. The last wicket was an excellent pick-up and direct hit -- an apt testament to our fielding effort for the day. Pretty much everyone contributed in the game by a catch or a wicket. I got 4 wickets in this game, making it 9 in 2 games.
We were chasing only 176 in 35 overs -- about 5 an over. But our one opener started as if we were chasing 10 an over... First 4 overs had at least 1 sixer -- each bigger than the previous one... In 5 overs, we were 42 for no loss with one opener at 34 and 8 extras. The other opener was playing a good foil to the big hitting by keeping the other end silent. By 10 overs we were 80 odd for the loss of 1 wicket and all of us were thinking of going home early.
But we were dreaming too early i guess. Opener tried to hit one more out of the park and the ball took the leading edge to go in the entirely opposite direction for a nice catch. Captain hit a brilliant cover-drive for the boundary but after that, he got out for a half-played shot. A faster one got another batsman castled and stupid calling got our most stable batsman back in the calling after being run-out.
Suddenly, we were 114 for 5 with 14 more overs to go... It was evenly poised for both the teams. We needed 60 off runs in 14 odd overs -- not a big ask by any measure... They needed 5 wickets with the better batsmen from our team already back in the tent... It was any one's game to win...
The weather gods decided to take control of the match at this point. It poured and poured well enough for the umpires to call off the game. Both the teams were left wondering of what could have happened.
There were no Fuddruckers this time, instead we relished a good biryani and nice Raita in the shelter at the ground. Not sure whether we were celebrating not losing the game or ruing the chance of not winning the game. Whatever the reason was, the biryani was awesome. :-))
This week, we take on the winners of the 2007 season in their home ground at Charlotte. Keep watching this space for the updates on that game. And yes, wish us good luck!!!