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Group B: 2nd Semifinal - LCC Bats vs Hawks, Oct 22,2006
Tournament: 20 Overs League Competition - Yr 2006
Match: Division B Semi-finals
Between: LCC BATS and Hawks (HCCA)
Umpire: Vidhyash, CTCL Treasurer
Sunday, 22nd October 2006. It was very cold and windy, when the teams Hawks (HCCA) and LCC Bats assembled at the ground. In the first round matches, Hawks won their game against LCC Bats by a margin of around 25 runs. Today, Hawks were with out Varun Chitkara, their captain, who is away in India currently. Nimesh Porbandarwala, the stand-in captain for Hawks won the toss and elected to bat first. His reasoning should have been that bowling first under the very windy circumstances will be problematic and that the bowlers will not be able to control their line and will end up giving lots of wides. However, LCC Bats wanted to bowl first if they had won the toss and by asking LCC Bats to bowl, both teams felt happy in having got what they wanted. The heavy wind can upset the bowlers' rhythm and line, but at the same time, experienced and skillful bowlers can use the wind to their advantage and pose lots of problems to the batsmen. The LCC Bats bowlers did just that and the runs were never coming easily. Batsmen had to work for their runs and risk cheeky singles and in the second over, a risky single ended up with Basit Zubair getting run out, courtesy a brilliant piece of fielding and direct hit from the point by Raj Divanapalli. Then Kris Dixit and Prashant Arora steadied the ship with out losing their wickets, but the runs were still very hard to come. Both Guru Krish and Shanmugasundaram MS were right on spot, with very good pace too, and the first 5 overs with field restrictions yielded only 28 runs. The change bowlers, Deepak Jain and Raj Divanapalli, then kept things tight and after 10 overs, Hawks ended with just 58 runs on board for the loss of 1 wicket.
Though the LCC Bats bowlers had done a marvelous job, to their credit, Hawks batsmen kept their wickets and with big hitters waiting to come, they fancied their chances of putting up a fighting total in the rest 10 overs. After the break, when their innings resumed, Prashant went after the bowlers hitting two great shots to the square leg fence off Deepak. Just when the decibel level was going up amongst the Hawks supporters, Deepak struck twice in consecutive deliveries. After being carted for 2 fours, he came back strongly to clean bowl Prashant (35, 4 fours) and off his very next delivery had the danger man Paris Francis caught behind. Meanwhile, Kris made a subdued 29 runs off 32 balls with just 1 four and was brilliantly caught by Raj off his own bowling. The Hawks plan of scoring quick runs took a beating with the loss of 3 wickets in very quick succession. Nimesh Porbandarwala used all his experience and skills to guide Hawks towards a decent total. The other change bowlers Sameer Shah and Brian Walters too bowled accurately and the batsmen were not given lots of opportunities to free their arms. Brian, in his very first over, dealt another twin blow. He cleaned up Ramit Jain with a fast straight one and then had Lokesh Choudhary for a duck, courtesy a brilliant piece of stumping by the keeper, Mahesh Mahadevan. Pretty soon, Michael Gale was run out by another great demonstration of the art of fielding by Raj, who ran hard from the deep, collected the ball and threw right into the bowler's hands, all the actions following each other so naturally like a majestic horse galloping on an open field. The loss of wickets did not disturb Nimesh and he single handedly made sure that the Hawks total attained respectability. After being 112 for 7 at the end of 18 overs, he clobbered the last two overs to all parts of the ground and helped Hawks add 32 runs in those 12 balls. He ended up with a very well made 39* off just 23 balls with 2 fours and 2 sixes and Hawks completed their 20 overs scoring 144 runs for the loss of 7 wickets. It was only because of Nimesh's batting, Hawks could reach this total and I still wonder why he had to come in so late, getting just 23 deliveries and remaining not out. If he had come in earlier and played around 50 balls, the chances of Hawks ending up with a bigger score are very obvious and I hope they use him well in their next match against Longhorns. All the LCC Bats bowlers did a fantastic job, though only Deepak (4-030-2), Brian (2-0-20-2) and Raj (4-0-22-1) ended up with wickets against their names.
LCC Bats started the chase with a very well set plan, wherein Suresh Rangarajan was to go after the bowlers and Madhu Iyengar was to provide stability. Both did their part very well and the very first over yielded 10 runs. The opening partnership was cut short, when in the second over of the innings, Suresh drove Kris in the air right to Prashant who took the catch pretty easily. That catch was almost the last catch of the match, as the Hawks players, including their most reliable one, Nimesh, went in to the mood of having a drop-catch contest. Not 1, not 2, but at least another 5-6 more were dropped before Sundararajan Ramanujam held one to dismiss Pradeep Patra off Paris' bowling. Meanwhile, Pradeep and Madhu kept the Hawks bowlers at the bay, both playing sensibly and punishing the bad balls. There were adequate bad balls in almost all overs and coupled with the extras coming off wides and no-balls, the required run rate was always under check. Ultimately Madhu was run out (Suresh, his by-runner went for a non existing single, after Madhu injured his knee) for a well made 15 runs off 20 balls with 2 fours. Biren Patel steadied the LCC Bats innings along with Pradeep and made sure there was no further damage till the break by the end of 10th over. Or rather, should I say, the Hawks fielders themselves made sure that there was no further damage for LCC? Just the last ball before the break, Biren miscued a shot and the ball went high in the air and was falling right at the bowlers crease, where Paris got well positioned just waiting for the ball to come down to his hands, when a sudden rush of bad blood made the keeper run all the way to the bowling end and run over Paris and ended up with the easiest of chances going down.
Biren, as also Pradeep, made sure that the dropped catches did not go unpunished. After being 78 for 1 at the end of 10th over, both started to accelerate when play resumed. Two overs, one from Sundararajan and another from Lokesh, yielded 13 runs each and this pretty much offset some tight overs from Paris and Nimesh. Finally when Pradeep fell, thanks to Sundararajan taking the catch at gully, the score was healthy and the required rate was just around 6. Pradeep batted very well and made 31 runs off 33 balls with 4 fours, the best of his shots being a reverse pull off Sundararajan to the backward point fence. When Guru Krish walked in to join Biren, the writing was very much on the wall. To their credit, the Hawks bowlers, especially Paris, Nimesh and Kris tried their best to get back into the game with very good disciplined bowling, but the mood of drop-catch contest still hung around and another 4-5 chances were put down. Biren and Guru, gleefully accepted these chances and made merry with Biren remaining not out on 43 from 35 balls with 3 fours and Guru remaining not out on 25 off 20 balls with 1 four. In the end, LCC Bats reached their target of 145 runs off 18.4 overs with the loss of just 3 wickets. It turned out to be a very comfortable victory for LCC Bats and the Hawks have only themselves to blame for all those dropped catches. A total of 144 is not a big enough score and to defend such totals, the fielders have to support their bowlers. Unfortunately for Hawks, their fielders did not do that and this very soon resulted in bowlers giving up too. On any other day, this match could have been much closer than what it was today.
Last but not least, the neutral umpire Vidhyash did an excellent job and was very consistent in judging LBWs or wide balls.
With this victory, LCC Bats move on to the finals where they meet Lagaan. This may be the first time in recent CTCL league competitions, where two non-HCCA teams are competing for the championship trophy and this is just a good sign that shows the improvement in quality of the other cricket teams in Austin. Having more good quality teams augurs well for the game and is rightly welcomed by one and all. Let's wait till next Sunday for seeing another eagerly expected match of the tournament.
Toss: Hawks (HCCA) who chose to bat first
Result: LCC Bats won by 7 wickets with 8 balls to spare
Hawks: 144 for 7 in 20 overs (Nimesh 39*, Prashant 35, Kris 29, Brian 2wkts, Deepak 2wkts, Raj 1wkt)
LCC Bats: 145 for 3 in 18.4 overs (Biren 43*, Pradeep 31, Guru 25*, Madhu 15, Paris 1wkt, Kris 1wkt)
MoM: Biren Patel, 43* runs (not out)
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