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Falcons vs Lagaan - Falcons win by 113 runs
FALCONS VS LAGAAN CC Ė APR 1, 2007
RESULT: FALCONS WIN BY 113 RUNS
What??? How???? Why???? You all seem to be shell-shocked by the margin of victory, right? It took a thorough, dominating performance from the Falcons to make it happen. Lagaan were never really in the game except for the brief period with the new ball when our rookies were finding their feet! We just moved from strength to strength to almost near invincibility at the end of the game. We were not coasting, not cruising, but blazing our way through the ranks of the opponent. Ruchir Chhabra, the elite player he is, just knocked the winds out of them with his merciless batting. He was in his elements! Totally! It was so brutal that at the end of it all, we sympathized with Lagaan for getting caught in that Punjabi whirlwind!!
The ground was very wet in the morning and we decided to wait for an hour and play a quality 30 over game. That gave the players enough time for some breakfast and what not. Lagaan won the toss, were elated by the wet conditions hoping the ball would not come on to the bat and keep low. So, they chose to field. Besides, they always considered themselves good chasers. The openers were circumspect initially. Lagaan bowled almost 12 wides within the first two overs! Lagaan seemed like they had spent quite a while strategizing and getting their moves right for this game. Their main targets were Rohit and Ruchir. I think they picked out these two batters, justifiably, and held back Radha, their potent weapon with the new ball, to bowl at these two whenever they came to the crease. Divya played a gorgeous cover drive for a boundary, but got out to the very next ball poking at an off stump ball. Mayuresh was carrying on from the previous innings. He did not let anything deter his concentration, the least of it being Samirís nervousness at the start of his innings. The fear of failure seemed like might have gotten the better of Samir, an otherwise cool customer. He was very shaky. Words of wisdom from Mayuresh and the captain helped him refocus and he later unleashed some well-timed shots that raced him to 30. Mayuresh was going steady, picking ones and two and getting the odd boundary when needed. His hook/pull shot to a bouncer from Radha was the pick of the day until that point. The very next ball he scooped up to mid-off. Radha bowled a slower fullish delivery and Mayuresh just checked his shot and ended up scooping it high in the air. It was a bit tricky at that stage. We were not quite on top with the run-rate and Samirís nervous pokes and dot balls didnít help the cause either. Lagaan seemed to peg back the momentum. Anyway, Ruchir decided to stay at the wicket and play cautious, letting Samir to settle in and play positive. Samir switched gears appropriately. His last 20 runs came in a flurry and we were hitting the ball hard. Ruchir hit a couple of boundaries, but Lagaan did not seem to be worried at all. Samir fell eventually, and Islam, the masterful bat that he is, joined Ruchir at the crease. Islamís demeanor was all Ruchir needed at that stage. He started to hit the ball hard and run with purpose. Islam was settling in with ones and twos. The score card was kept busy. Both these batsman were starting to open up and launch a very calculated assault on the bowlers. At the 20 over mark, I think we were around 140 odd. We were looking for a score of 210 or 220. Ruchir had other ideas. He started to flick and pull with disdain. He hit the spinners hard and in the gaps and boundaries were fetched with consummate ease. Lagaan dropped a catch and that made things worse. He began to hit them as though there was no second day! Every over started to fetch around 12 Ė 15 runs. The runs per over was increasing exponentially and Ruchir was playing as though he was at his backyard. Rohit walked in at Islamís wicket, and had no intentions of letting anything go. He started off with a six and kept hitting it hard and ended up with a 8 ball 25 or thereabouts. Ruchir stayed unbeaten till the end and finished with 101 of 73 balls. The last 50 runs of his knock came in 20 odd balls! He took us to a mammoth 253. The last 10 overs getting us 110 odd runs!! Simply superb!
When it came to our turn to bowl, we knew we didnít have any pressure. But, we decided to bowl them out as cheaply as possible. I opened the bowling with Islam. Islam and I felt we might swing the ball and the curve would beat Umesh, who is left-handed. I settled in nicely to a consistent line and length and Islamís first over was faced by Rajesh, the right-hander. In the first three overs, I think Lagaan played as though they were chasing only 130 runs! In that defensive mode, I didn't want to waste Islamís overs. So, I brought in Pravin who can bowl fast and hit the deck. I kept testing the batters outside off-stump and Pravin tested them with good bounce and carry. I picked up the wicket of Rajesh, who had to go for the boundary and ended up getting beaten. LBW-plumb in front! Jay, the guy who scored 38 against Eagles last time, was also snapped outside the off-stump nicking to the keeper. As always, our field setup was very aggressive. Rohit replaced Pravin and bowled his heart out. Rohit didnít give Lagaan even an ounce of an opportunity to score. Rohan who joined Umesh was focused on playing a long innings. He was the one guy we knew we had to get early. My idea of rotating the bowlers was simple. If we have a stiff target (had to get them out cheaply), it is better to keep it tight at one end and attack with your best weapons at the other. To successfully do that you need to give short spells to your strike bowlers so they could bowl with venom and be recharged. The last thing you want while defending a low score is for your main bowlers to be tired. So, I kept things tidy at one end while Pravin, and Rohit especially, were bowling their hearts out. I asked Rohit to take a break after two overs, but he insisted on a third. I was not too keen on that, but believed in him. He cleaned up Rohan with a fast, leg stump Yorker, that ricocheted off his pads onto the stumps. Game won! Umesh gallantly tried to rescue a sinking ship. He couldnít connect any. Just when he was starting to play sedate, Rohit cleaned up his stumps too with a beauty that pitched outside off and curved in. The middle stump went cart-wheeling! His last six victims have all been bowled. That is some accomplishment. Lagaan had no option than to give up and started to play it out. Yogesh Bhai bowled tidy for his two wickets, Farhan was steady, and Pravin finished his quota in his second spell. Lagaan tottered to 134/6 of 30 overs. Ram, Rohit and Yogesh picking two scalps each. Mission accomplished. We got another bonus point on the way!
On a side note, Islam was telling us about his playing days in Pakistan and Lancashire and how close he got to being selected for the playing XI for Pakistan National team. This guy is unbelievably humble. He shows a paternal affection towards us, and is ever eager to give opportunities to the younger ones at his cost. He has been a great addition to the Falcons so far. It is indeed a great honor to be playing alongside him!!
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