Post the ecstatic first outing against RBCC, Optimists 1s started to VrijbroekPark, Mechelen for a twin bill with Brussels Greens Cricket club (BGCC). The customary rituals starting from the early morning meet up at Glacis till the first ball progressed well, as Optimists lead by Vikram entered into Game 1 with high spirits.
BGCC opted to bat after winning the toss and this would soon prove wrong as OCC bowlers created havoc. Ankush along with Amit D gave one of the best starts in power-play with fierce and quality fast bowling. Skipper did not put a foot wrong in bowling changes, almost always producing immediate results. Amit and Pankaj started the slaughter by picking wicket apiece, which limited the opposition reeling at 28-2 at the end of power-play. Saransh came into the attack and started cutting through the BGCC batting line up with his tight T20 off-spin bowling. Vikram from the other end won the skip vs skip battle edging danger man Chitrakalp for mere 2. Saransh continued the assault ending in likely his career best figures of 5 for 12, brilliant! Opposition collapsed from 46-3 to 62-9 in no time. Vikram then handed the ball to Girish and keeping inline with the day’s happenings, Girish provided the last nail in the coffin to end the BGCC innings at mere 64 all out in 16 overs. A special mention to Advyth, who made his 1st XI debut, for his flash stumping and two good catches and overall great glovework.
Even with a below par target of 65, OCC openers Amit H and Reinhardt (18 of 11 balls) showed no mercy to rival fast bowlers and pummelled 50 runs in just 4 overs. Amit H after thrashing their best bowler for 4 consecutive boundaries departed first ball of 5th over scoring 28 of just 15 deliveries. Vikram came in one down, in pursuit of securing maximum bonus pointsto OCC. Gagandeep Singh prevented that with some thinking bowling and an extraordinary direct hit to gain all the 3 wickets to fall to his name removing both the openers in consecutive deliveries and getting Saransh run-out. Tony Whiteman via couple of telling blows sealed the game for OCC 1s in grand style just in 8.1 overs.
GAME 2 :
Yes!! the misfortune of losing tosses continued as OCC 1s skipper lost the toss for fourth time in a row. On a lighter note, OCC should probably think of including a dedicated training sessions for calling the toss for the captains BGCC captain took a gutsy decision of putting themselves to bat even after facing a huge loss in the first game.
Host team openers didn’t made the sail easy this time for our fast bowlers by striking at impressive strike rates. Vikram had no hesitation in introducing the first match Talisman Saransh (1/26), who didn’t disappoint and picked the first wicket of his 3rd delivery. The other opener by the means of shorter boundaries and what some call left hand advantage, scored with no fear and kept on hitting the ball into the long bushes. Anoop in his second spell bowled with more plan and picked up 3 crucial wickets including the dismissive southpaw and reducing the flow of runs as the scoreboard read 137-5 of 16 overs. Dilshad (1/25) and Amit D (2/26) picked up wickets at crucial junctures.
Amit in particular showed consistency and sharp fast bowling, and in both matches was the skipper’s go-to man in death overs. Vikram took the weight of bowling the death overs onto his shoulders with Amit D and with virtue of his multiple slow ball variations scalped 2 wickets denting the chances of posting a massive target in-front of OCC. BGCC ended up scoring 170 for the loss of 9 wickets in their full quota of 20 overs.
OCC had to start well given the target set by BGCC but as luck would have it, Amit H who gave a blitzkrieg start in in the first outing was dismissed of the very first ball in the huge chase, another classic example of the law of averages. Saransh came in one-down and showed class by hitting a six over cover but was out soon after that. Next came Girish who looked solid but couldn’t’ capitalize on the start. Vikram, the crisis man for the Optimists, walked in and held the wicket on one end and made sure the run flow was consistent giving most of strike to Reinhardt. Reinhardt (31 from 29) was bowled out in 11th over with score at 61 and the match hanging in balance.
110 needed of 58 balls, Optimist supporters are looking for a super hero to pull the team back to winning ways. Then entered the IRONMAN aka Tony Stark err Tony Whiteman who with his flawless and dismissive batting injected life into the chase. Tony (39 from 23) tonked runs at will, running well with the skip between wickets and in one over gave OCC absolutely crucial 20 odd runs. When the team still needed 36 off 17 balls and it was looking that Tony and Vikram would finish what they had started, he was brilliantly caught just inches from the boundary line over covers. Dilshad was promoted up the order as he walked in with Vikram who continued the assault and hit 2 massive sixes out into the canal. The penultimate over is a key over in T20 and Gagandeep was an easy choice for opposition’s skip. He gave nothing in the batsman’s slot and eventually got Vikram caught at boundary, ending his quick 44 runs of 31 deliveries. In the end, Optimists fell short by 12 runs! Game of margins!
OCC 1sts now sit at 3 wins out of 4 games and looking forward to extend the dominance in the division. That's about it! See you next week with more updates!
Anoop Simha Orsu