After skipper Mohit Dixit won the toss, James Barker (53 off 46) & William Cope (53 off 35) gave WOCC both a brisk and solid start. Raju Akulwar and Vishwajeet Deshpande opened the bowling, with Raju (40/0 off 3) taking the brunt of punishment. Vishi on the other hand bowled a tighter line and length and returned more impressive power play figures, indeed his first 3 overs went for just 15 and his figures of 27/0 off 4 were only slightly marred by a final over of 12 runs.
Cope dominated the opening partnership reaching his 50 in the 8th over with the scoreboard reading 73 for 0. The highlight of his innings, apart from being dropped five times, was a six on-the-up over extra cover, the shot of a man in form. Cope fell soon after reaching his 50, with the score on 77 in the 9th over to Girish Venkateswaran, caught trying to loft it over the circle.
Richard Neale and James then came together, starting what could generously be described as a period of consolidation. Overs 9 to 12 saw some accurate bowling from Girish (34/2 off 4) and Gaurav Kumar Singh (27/0 off 4) with just 17 runs scored. Warriors at that point could have been forgiven for thinking that WOCC were batting for a draw, however an unexpected telling off for Vishi from the captain's committee for 'fraternising with the opposition' sparked a fire in the belly of normally mild mannered Nealers.
Nealers, who had until that point looked like he was trying to run himself out, kicked off with a spirited 48 off 32 balls including two 6s, one of which was sweetly timed on the posh-side, and two 4s. This provided James the spark he needed as the pair shared a 61 partnership off just 49 balls.
James' departure in over 16 with the score on 138 saw Thomas Martin come to the crease who finished off a WOCC innings of 178 with a thunderous straight six off Girish in the final over to take him to 14 off 7. Thomas fell to the final ball of the innings to a rare sight in this game, a catch, expertly demonstrated by Maz Rahaman.
Vishi and Gaurav were the cream of the Warrior attack, Maz Rahaman (34/1 off 4) picked up the wicket of James, and Akhilesh Kumar entered briefly into the attack with his solitary over going for just 12. The Warrior performance was far from helped by the 9 drops that I counted, which had they taken, would have put significantly more pressure on WOCC.
The Warrior innings started well enough with openers Girish Venkateswaran and Amit Halbhav, until Girish (8 off 12) fell lbw in the 4th over to Will Cope (21/1 off 3) with the score on 23. Atif Kamal opening from the rugby pitch end never really looked like it was his day; some arial shots which cleared the power-play infield and a couple of inventive hoiks to leg didn't flatter A-Train's figures whose 3 overs went for 23.
Anshuman Bhadauria joined newly engaged Amit (CONGRATULATIONS!) and the Warriors stayed in touch with 44 after the 6th over, compared to WOCCs 46 at the same point. Whilst both batsmen looked set, neither ever really accelerated. Six relentless overs in the middle of the innings from vice-captain Pankaj Malav (18/0 off 3) and skipper Mohit Dixit (20/0 off 3) went for just 38 and effectively choked the Warrior innings.
With the pressure on the Warrior batsmen to make something happen and with plenty of wickets in hand, Ed Packard 19/1 off 3 and Mark Fitzgerald 16/2 off 3 entered the attack. Fitz's first over saw the 2 first balls slide down leg side and the betting syndicates started to wonder if Fitz needed a new leather jacket. However the veteran decided to vary his attack and tried a straight full bunger, that normally should have troubled the houses opposite the Pierre Werner Oval, instead caught a confused Amit lbw in front of his stumps, who departed unenthusiastically having scored a typically poised 44 off 35 balls including four 4s. The dismissal broke up a well-crafted 71 off 63 ball partnership between Amit and Anshuman in the 14th over.
More variety was needed as Gaurav Kumar Singh faced his first, and as it turned out only ball. This time he tried a 'good ball', in the form a yorker on leg stump, which saw the bails fly, the Warriors sink to 94 for 3 and Fitz standing on the precipice of a hat-trick. The field was set, plans were hatched, jugs were almost filled and predictably the rest of the over passed without event.
With still plenty of batting in the hutch, it fell to the well-set Anshuman to take the fight to WOCC. However, wickets fell and runs were hard to come by; Packard, Fitzgerald and new WOCC signing Wayne Codd (16/2 off 2) bowled tightly and took advantage of the increasingly desperate Warrior tail. Wayne took the wicket of Praveen Marati, bowled for 4 and Ed saw off Mazeebur Rahaman (4) in identical fashion.
Anshuman finally fell to Wayne in the 18th over having made 47 off 49 including three 4s, he didn't look happy with his batting all afternoon and never showed the type of power he is capable of. Warriors were still 60 runs short and not even super signing Akhilesh Kumar with his 8 off 3 could save the day, they finished on 133, 46 runs short of victory.
The match was played in excellent spirits and both sides extended their huge thanks to Vikrant Naik & Ankush Nanda for the thankless task of umpiring. Thanks also to Chess Ellingworth, Laura Ellingworth and John Verrinder, for the wonderfully well-run morning COVID testing.
It's hard to put your finger on a single element that may have changed the match; was it WOCC's six hitting, six compared to Warriors' none, was it the nine drops the WOCC innings, compared to just 4 in the Warrior innings, or was it the relentless WOCC bowling that saw none of their bowlers concede more than 8 an over? Had Warriors been able to get on the right side of any of those factors, maybe the match would have been closer, however as it turned out, WOCC roll on to the later stages of the LCF Div 1 fixtures unbeaten and Warriors with one win from 3 matches.