Cougars won the toss and chose to bat. They started with Raju and Kamal against Abhi and Jigar. Jigar got rid of Raju while Abhi kept things tight from the other end. Some extras and some good hits thought took them to 44 in 8 overs. Kartik was the first change bowler and he immediately made an impact by cleaning up Kamal. Govind joined in the fun by being accurate as always. By the time Kartik and Govind were done, they had reduced Cougars to 92 for 7. Vaibhav and Sreeram then stitched up a good partnership of 85 before Abhi forced a fall pull shot of Vaibhav. He departed for 42. As Sreeram was running out of partners, he stepped it up a bit and was the last man out for 53. Govind and Kartik took 3 wickets each while Kartik Kambatla, Abhi and Jigar each had a victim against their names. We dropped some simple catches and messed up a couple of easy run-outs which helped the cougars to go from 92 for 7 to 206.
Seas started poorly losing Vivek (LBW to Bhargav) for 2 with the score at 14. Rajesh walked in and looked solid as usual while Govind stepped on the gas. A flurry of boundaries from him (14 from an Adhiraj over) and Seas looked very comfortable at 85 for 1 in the 17th over. Adhiraj had his revenge when he bowled Govind who made an attractive 52. I joined Rajesh and departed soon trying to cut Montu and edging to the keeper. Sam Vora stuck a hefty blow over midwicket but was soon caught at first slip. Some basic mistakes while calling (or lack of it) and running between the wickets saw Gautam Sista runout. Abhi walked in next and he too departed going for an expansive areal drive. He was caught by Amish off Montu. All this while Rajesh looked solid and confident at the other end. Disaster struck when he was caught at first slip off Anish Mehta. The ball was so short, and slow, that Rajesh’s eyes lit up. In trying to hit it out of the park, he went hard, and a bit early at it resulting in the ball hitting the back of the bat straight to first slip. None of us, including him, could believe what just happened.
We desperately needed a strong partnership and that’s exactly what Kasha and Anand looked like providing. Kasha departed after a very promising 15. Anand on the other side attacked whenever he got a loose ball. That included a very straight six of Bhargav, full of lazy elegance. They tried going short at him but the ball ended over fine leg. Kartik Bhatt settled in and struck a boundary of Montu that got him settled. And going. But it wasn’t over as the match had another twist in store. Anand perished trying to cut Montu and edging to the keeper. He was the third batsmen to lose his wicket in that manner. In walked the last man, Jigar, with around 25 runs remaining.
Kartik was on strike at the end of the over. The ball was with Adhiraj. After a few good Yorkers that Kartik kept out, he went for the short one. Everyone in the ‘pavillion’ was expecting that. But our man in the middle was expecting that too. But instead of playing it safe and letting it go, he swiveled nicely and just timed the pull to perfection. It sailed comfortably over fine leg. Jigar on the other end kept out deliveries that were full and straight. He grew in confidence as he started rotating the strike.
With around 8 more to go, and not many finger nails left, Kartik Bhatt pulled another one to midwicket boundary to take us past 200 (203). 4 more to go. Anish Mehta marked his run up. Jigar gracefully drove him through covers for, ALMOST, a boundary. 2 more to go. A wide from the bowler down the leg and another single meant that we pulled thrilling win from the jaws of defeat. Full credit to Anand , Kartik Bhatt and Jigar for keeping their calm in such a tense finish. Every defense was lauded and every single was cheered with the noise reserved for sixes, none louder than the last one.You had to be there to feel the tension in the last few overs. You had to be there to appreciate the nerves of steel displayed by them.
Yes, we could have done a lot of things better. Middle order collapse after letting their lower order prosper. Some easy catches dropped. But for now, let’s enjoy the moment and celebrate the victory. We can discuss areas of improvement at the nets.