After the euphoria of the week before, the Optimists 1st XI were back to business to ensure the season finished on a high and the quadruple was secured.
The Division 2 Championship was once against within touching distance of the Optimists 1st XI and they knew a win against Ostend Exiles would secure the title.
Upon arriving at the ground in Ostend, the match was immediately reduced to a 40 over game to ensure it would finish in daylight.
Optimists skipper, Richard Neale continued his run of good form and won the toss and elected to bat first.
Under blue skies, William Heath and Saransh Kulshrestha opened. Both looked in good touch and immediately started scoring with some crunching shots, punishing anything short.
Saransh was the first to fall for 12 when the score was 47-1 off 8 overs. Richard Neale joined Heath and together started to build a solid partnership. During this time, Heath brought up his 50 and all was content in the Optimists world. At the 20 over mark, the Optimists were 107-1 and the platform was ready to push on in the final 20 overs with a score of 240-250 being talked about.
Unfortunately, Neale played a lazy shot and was caught at cover and an over later, Heath smashed a cut shot into the gap, just in front of point for a certain boundary.. or so we thought. Qaarab Diwan Ali (who might be Clarke Kent in disguise) put on his cape and flew, full stretch, to take a blistering one handed catch. Certainly up there with anything Collingwood or Jonty Rhodes have pulled off. Heath was dismissed for a well played 52 and when Girish went shortly after for 2, the Optimists were 114-4 of 24 overs.
Tony Whiteman and Vishy Deshpande started to rebuild until Tony started to try and up the run rate and was caught for 15.
There was valuable contributions from the lower order with Atif Kamal hitting 10, Yatin Bhamare 15 and all this was made possible thanks to some excellent, sensible batting at the other end by Vishy who was pushing the ball around nicely and hitting some lovely drives to keep the Optimists in the fight.
Unfortunately Vishy departed for a well played 29 just as "I never get out for golden ducks" was heard echoing around the ground. Enter Mark Fitzgerald, the voice behind that statement. We, of course were safe in the knowledge he would survive one ball at least... or so we thought. Golden Duck! It happens to us all Mark!
Aknush Nanda was the last to go trying to score quick runs and Amit Dhingra was stranded with just two balls left in the innings. The Optimists had scored 198 all out. Short of what was originally targeted but confident it was good enough to win.
As, so often happens, the opposition have one opening batsman who looked to hit everything. Atif Kamal and Yatin Bhamare who both bowled beautifully saw good balls go to the boundary by Exiles opener, Faisal Mehmood.
However, in the fifth over, Atif struck and had Mehmood caught behind by Heath and Exiles were on 43-1 off 5 overs.
Ankush Nanda joined the attack and took a wicket in his first over and Yatin then got in the action taking two wickets to leave Exiles on 70-4 off 16 overs.
However, it was Vice Captain Saransh Kulshrestha who was to be among the wickets. As the run rate increased the Exiles batsman had no choice other than to attack and Yatin Bhamare took two fine catches at Deep Mid On and William Heath at wicket-keeper also in the action taking two further catches off Saransh to bring up a 5 wicket haul for Saransh.
At the other end, Vishy Deshpande was wheeling away and bowling exceptionally well. He found his line and length early and generated good turn to frustrate the Exiles batsman. It was Vishy who finished things off when he had the last batsman stumped by a great bit of keeping from Heath.
Exiles were all out for 146 and the Optimists won by 52 runs to secure the Division 2 championship for the forth year in a row!
Atif finished on 1-33, Yatin 2-33, Ankush 1-23, Saransh an excellent 5-38 and Vishy 1-19.
It was a superb bowling performance from all five of the bowlers.
And so, tops off arguably one of, if not, the most successful season in Optimists history having performed the Quadruple!
A big thank you to everyone who has been involved from players, scorers, umpires, ground staff, supporters etc to make the 2018 season so memorable.
We say good-bye, unfortunately, to Yatin Bhamare who will be moving to the USA later this year. Yatin, combined with Atif has been the spearhead of the bowling attack in recent years and both have done a phenomenal job. We wish Yatin all the very best and hope he might be back one day to grace the Pierre Werner Cricket Ground once more.