Despite a late start and match being resuced to 45 overs, the day seemed really good for a game of cricket. We were facing Panthers who were promoted to Elite along with us last season and a good opportunity to assess how much each team has progressed over the course of the season. Our confidence levels had increased with the win in the prvious game and Tejas had no hesitation in batting first on a nice outfield.
We had a lot of changes and new faces in the playing 11 for this game with Jag and Mayank K(as a batsman) making their comebacks after injuries and Abhishek Mendhekar and Rohan Shah filling in for Sathy and Anoop K. Natty and Jag opened the innings and were cautious while facing some accurate bowling from the Panthers’ opening bowlers. Unfortunately, both of them got out when they had spent some time in the crease, which brought Rutvij and Nachi to the crease. The both of them played amazingly well, with Rutvij unfurling some terrific square cuts and Nachi with those booming drives over extra cover. They both had a chanceless partnership, helped by some wides by Panthers bowlers. With Nachi, you are guaranteed atleast 30 runs an innings, but unfortunately, this time it ended at 30. When he was dismissed LBW, Blazers had reached 106/3 in 27 overs. This is when there was a minor hiccup, when it was time to accelerate, Arun A got bowled and Sparshith got stumped, both to ridiculous shots, definitely an area to improve. With the score at 117/5, Tejas walked in and hit a six and a boundary. All the while, Rutvij was there sneaking singles and fetching boundaries. Tejas got out trying to clear the leg side boudary off a full toss. In walked Gadde, who started very positively and along with Rutvij, brought us ever closer to a total of 200. After Gadde got out trying to accelerate, Rohan Shah went in and was very busy between the wickets and kept the score moving along and was unlucky to get out to direct hit from long on. Mayank was run out trying to up the scoring as well. Abhishek M went in last and in the first two balls, hit a six over covers and boundary, we ended up getting nearly 15 run in the over, with Rutvij unbeaten on 84 in a chanceless innings. It was a lesson in how to build an innings for the rest of us and due to the efforts of the lower order, Blazers ended up with a score of 227 in 45 overs.
Its not an impossible target to chase in that ground, but with Vijay Gadde breathing fire, it actually was impossible. Gadde and Rutvij started proceedings and while Rutvij kept the batsmen quiet, Gadde had no patience whatsover, sending back three batsmen in his first two overs. Panthers were 1 for the loss of 3 wickets. In walked Aniruddha who looked really good pulling a couple to the boundary. Natty was brought in for three overs and he was a bit unlucky where edges didnt result in wickets and the partnership was building. Arun A was brought in and he kept it really tight from one end. Panthers had reached 50 for 3 and Sparry was brought in to get a breakthrough and he didnt disappoint. Aniruddha stepped out to a flighted ball, but the ball turned square and Rohan Shah, who was very good behind the stumps, whipped the bails off. Both the spinners, Arun and Sparry nailed down the batsman. With onse set batsman gone, the other succumbed to a brilliant piece of run out by Jag, who was throwing himself around the field. Arun with his super tight line and length and Sparry with enromous turn and bounce nicked three more wickets to reduce Panthers to 8 down. The tailenders were beginning to frustrate us when they were edging almost every ball but none were going to hand. In came Gadde to clean them up and he did so with some style. In the last ball off his spell, he took the final wicket to dismiss panther below 100 and get his much deserved 5 wicket haul.
Special mentions to Rohan Shah, who did a good job behind the stumps despite having not kept much this season. And to Abhishek M and Mayank K, who were very committed on the field, rushing to the ball at every opportunity and kept the pressure up on Panthers batsmen all the time.
Overall, it was a complete game where every depsrtment clicked, to support two of our best performers this season, Gadde and Rutvij(who just played his last game).
MVP & MOM – Both shaared by Gadde and Rutvij 😀