Match Report - Easter Weekend 2021
by Ananth Srisailapathy
The preparations were well underway at the PWCG for a glorious long weekend of the LCF outdoor cricket league thanks to an early start on Saturday with the rapid COVID-19 antigen tests.
A negative test was required for all the players and officials involved over the 3-day weekend to ensure we enjoy a safe and secure environment to play COVID free outdoor cricket.
Given the freezing early April temperatures and the 3 debutants for WOCC (Match#1) - Jalal Tariq, Muhammad Zulqarnain Khan and Ed Packard it meant former Luxembourg Captain Tony Whiteman had to bring in his supply of the jerseys and jumpers.
Tony’s presence proved to have an effect of an unseasonal Santa Claus at Easter, since his jumper inventory quickly vanished and was declared to be an instant hit with the people waiting in the cold to get their COVID-19 test results.
It was indeed a wonderful scene to see the LCF Div #1 outdoor cricket being played with the white ball and colourful jerseys. The kit on display over the weekend was impressive - level of detail, colors, design and clearly showcased the dedication, effort from the teams to play cricket under these circumstances.
Match #1 WOCC vs Steinsel Stars (3/April/2021)
The first game of the 2021 outdoor season was billed to be mouthwatering contest since it was a repeat of the recently concluded 2021 indoor final - Steinsel Stars versus WOCC.
WOCCers were most certainly waiting to avenge the loss of the indoor final.
The cold temperatures with a nippy wind meant WOCC skipper Mohit Dixit had no hesitation to bat first after the winning the toss (since his top priority was saving his fielder’s fingers from the cold) against our well know opposition Steinsel Stars.
The left-hand and right-hand combination of James Barker and William Cope started very well in the power play. The first wicket partnership came to a halt with James getting bowled out on 9 off 10 balls of Dileep Gare at the end of 4 overs with the score at 37/1.
On the other hand, William amassed 6 boundaries in a well-crafted innings of 52 off 33 balls. His innings was punctuated with lovely drives on the offside and was merciless in punishing any short ball on offer on the leg side boundary with his fluid pull shots.
After William’s departure, WOCC did consolidate in the middle overs but lost 3 wickets within 6 overs for only 30 runs. The Shiva B & Shiv G combination from Stars did curtail the run rate by bowling in good areas and taking the pace off the ball.
In relatively cold conditions with not a lot of loose balls on offer, WOCCers did manage to run hard between the wickets to get 2s and steal singles within the ring.
Mohit managed to score 3 boundaries in his innings of 24 off 17 balls but unfortunately got bowled to Roshan in the 16th over. This meant the crucial unbeaten 40 run partnership of Reinhardt (29* off 19 balls) and Daniel (9* off 7 balls) for the 7th wicket took WOCC from 121/7 to 161/7 at the end of 20 overs. The partnership was very active by running very hard between the wickets. Reinhardt also managed to clear the fence once with a superb six, in addition to the 3 boundaries he scored.
Overall, thanks to a strong team effort, WOCC ended up on a respectable score of 161 after the first innings.
The conditions started becoming better with the Sun coming out and the temperatures appreciating as the Stars started cautiously against a well-rounded WOCC bowling unit.
Opening bowlers William Cope and Ed Packard were bowling in good areas.
Ady was the first to fall to get caught out by Pankaj off the bowling of William within the powerplay for 6, while the score was 26/1 in 4.2 overs.
Shiv Gill and Vijay Desai played some lovely shots to find the boundaries but were falling behind the rate by not actively pursuing singles. The fielding in the ring was pretty tight by WOCC and the bowlers stuck to the plan of creating pressure with the help of dot balls.
Eventually 1st change bowler Pankaj struck twice in succession firstly in the 11th over to remove Vijay and then again in the 13th over to remove the dangerous Shiv, while the asking rate started rising over 10 runs per over.
As we know that the Stars have a powerhouse of hitters with Roshan, Mani, Jatin and Pranjul to follow the skipper turned to this “45 season pro” - Mike West for his lovely loopy left arm orthodox spin bowling from the Mark Fitzgerald Bridge End.
Mike delivered with 3 wickets for 18 in his 2 overs by removing Mani of the first ball of his first over (first ball of his season, he said it had never happened in his 45 seasons so far, therefore quite an achievement!) and followed by Roshan in the same over.
Consequently, Jatin hit him for a 6 and 4 of the first 2 deliveries of the 2nd over but, Mike had the last laugh to dismiss Jatin as James dived to take a good catch just in front of the wicket.
This meant, Stars were still pushing hard with the help of Pranjul (19* runs of 20 balls) but did not make much in roads and ended up with 139 runs off their allocated 20 overs for the loss of 7 wickets. Loss of quick wickets in the middle for Stars and not pacing their chase well enough towards the end facing a spirited WOCC bowling unit meant, WOCC winning the match by 22 runs and starting the season with a handsome victory.
Match #2 WOCC vs TCS Stars (4/April/2021)
Only change for Sunday’s game against TCS Stars in the playing eleven was the fact that Richard Neale was coming in the place of Daniel Austrie.
TCS Stars won the toss and elected to field which meant WOCC was happy to bat first and put a total on the board. WOCC lost couple of quick wickets in the power play and were happy to see James Barker and Ed Packard put on a lovely partnership of 65 runs. Ed was in wonderful hitting form (2 sixes) thanks to 2nd grip on his bat and was striking powerfully, ended up with 40 runs off 28 balls with an impressive strike rate of 143. Ed departed while the score was 93-3 at the end of 13 overs. After a short-lived innings from Pankaj Malav, Ananth Srisailapathy joined James Barker at the end of 14 overs.
The pair of James and Ananth put on crucial 43 runs in the span of 3 overs before James getting out to a well-played 66 runs off 52 balls with 5 boundaries and 1 six. After the fall of Ananth (13 runs off 12 balls) and Reinhardt in the 19th over, Mohit and Mo Khan ran pretty hard to secure 12 runs off the 20th over. TCS Stars were penalized 6 runs for slow over rate at the end of the 19th over and giving WOCC the final total of 162 runs (similar to Saturday’s total of 161).
TCS Stars lost 3 wickets in the power play thanks to impressive bowling from both William Cope and Jalal Tariq. Deva Armugam was the only batsman who was able to make some in roads with his impressive sixes (2) and scored 23 runs off 24 balls before succumbing to Mike West.
WOCC bowled impressively with Ed Packard bowling 2 unplayable overs giving away only 3 runs while Pankaj did his usual magic of bowling in the right areas and not giving anything away.
This meant, TCS stars were always behind the rate and the only respite came when the injured Anoop Simha played a little gem of an innings with 37 runs of 22 balls with 6 boundaries and 1 six until Mohit finally got him out to a good catch from Pankaj in the deep. There was no further resistance from TCS Stars and finally made 117 runs off the allocated 20 overs for the loss of 7 wickets thereby resulting in a comprehensive victory for WOCC by about 45 runs.
Overall a fun weekend with 2 victories over two good teams. This marks a pretty good start for WOCC and would certainly carry forward the momentum for the next weekend.