On Sunday 26th, Optimists 1st began their journey towards Belgium with a fixture against PCCB knowing that two wins would secure the top place in the standing table. After an obvious stop at Wanlin, to perform some rituals, the majority of the team headed towards Brussels while some of them were on Belgium tour and went to Ghent, nevertheless at the end they managed to reach the actual venue before 12.
Winning toss (very rarely) captain decided to bat first, as expected. Opener Amit H and late comer but still an opener, Scott entered the field with strong determination. However this determination didn’t last for a long time as their opener baller (Basit) was swinging the ball like a hammock between two trees and received a reward in the form of openers’ wickets. This critical situation demanded a solid innings, with Vikram holding from one end, other batsmen occasionally rode their luck with a couple of rides that surely flew through gaps in the field, but for the most part, they were unlucky and didn’t succeed to fight with discipline. Vik specially took a liking to their only spinner who went for 20 in an over. Pankaj supported the skip well, staying with him and clearing the occasional boundary, building the best partnership of the innings. It was Vikram’s crucial knock of 85 runs of just 45 balls (that included 6 humungous sixes) which made sure that the team reached a decent score of 144 with loss of 7 wickets, truly a captain’s knock when needed.
Ankush and debutant Raju were handed the new ball to make or break a chap. Raju helped to get early wicket and confidence (thanks to a diving catch from Ankush) but this confidence didn’t last long as the other opener Faiz hit him the longest six that he has seen so far in his BCF career. Fiaz continued not to show any sympathy over other bowlers as well and scored quick 55 that raised the systolic blood pressure of the captain. Captain turned to his most reliable crisis manager-Saransh, who balled beautifully and grabbed 2 crucial wickets with his off-spin ousting middle order lineup in the 10th & 12th over and the score slipped to 77-4. After which, Ankush also removed the dangerous Fiaz who was under tremendous run rate pressure. Vikram also uprooted Basit’s middle stump towards the end of the sixteen over. From there, with 52 needed off four, it was all but game over. The stage was now set for Mr. consistent death bowler (Amit D) for providing the final closure to the opponent's innings and he delivered. PCCB managed to score 123 runs in their stipulated 20 overs losing 7 wickets.
Both sides made changes to their lineup for the second match, with Optimist replacing Raju with Anshuman , PCCB was forced to rebalance their team as they needed a strong batting lineup and dropped Shameer (spinner) to make room for new opener Suhrab wafa.
This time Vikram lost the toss and Optimists were invited to field first, again as expected. The batting duo had a fiery start, taking the advantage of many loose balls and dropped catches, saw the score progressing 50 in 4 overs and 105 in 10 overs. Pankaj particularly bowled in great channels but was unlucky. The PCCB opener Fiaz (63 of 38 balls) was not showing mercy on any bowlers and bashing them all around the park whereas on the other hand Suhrab was having the same intention of swinging the bat with full force. Worrying situation asked captain Vikram to take a lead again as he asked Saransh to hold for an over and took the ball in his hand. The long run up mystery balls from Vikram got Fiaz out caught at point by Amit H, and this provided the much-needed breakthrough with team getting the confidence back. The ball went back to Saransh and he chipped through the middle order with great support from Ankush, Pankaj, Amit D and Vik. This tremendous performance by the bowlers in the 2nd half was the reason that OCC managed to give just 45 runs in the last 10 overs! Holding PCCB at 155.
Chasing 156, the captain sent his opening duo Amit and Scott on the field. Scott was unlucky and gave catching practice to a fielder standing on mid-on, which had an early setback to OCC. After this Joost was sent to stabilize the innings. Sledged by the opponents as a test player (clearly they hadn’t seen him play before), Joost bashed sixes and fours to prove them wrong and secured quick 27 on 13 balls. On the other side Amit H was also looking good with his straight bat shots, but it didn’t last long and with fifty runs partnership Joost and Amit gave their wickets to the opposition at a score of 60. Effort made for the next 14 runs was like climbing The Great Wall of China and during this climb OCC lost five major wickets and the score was 74 for 7. Despite being in pain, Saransh entered the field with a sore leg. Saransh and Anuksh together did a splendid job to stabilize the innings and reach closer towards the target. By this time even the opponents were on their nerves when they saw that OCC requires only 25 runs of 18 balls. THE GAME WAS ON! Basit (swinging bowler) was brought in attack with a hope to take the wicket and he stood up to it as he got the important wicket of Saransh and the dream of securing the 2nd win was in Dilshad and Ankush’s hands. Unfortunately we could get the big shots and a wicket of the final ball sealed victory for PCCB, with the optimist finishing 146, only ten runs shy of their target! Always a game of margins!