Well the PWCG looked a picture as the OCC 1st team congregated and went through their normal pre-match procedures……civil pleasantries as the players arrived, putting out of the chairs and tables, Covid tests and vaccine verification, a well-rehearsed warmup routine and all were ready for action. Even the fantastic new advertising signs on the scoreboard (thanks Maples and HSBC for their tremendous support) had leveled themselves up after looking a bit crooked the night before (great work Graham and Phil)
12 Stars had requested a 1 hour delay due the expected late arrival of their last car but as the last car pulled up Vik and the 12 Stars skipper were wandering out to the middle with umpires Ben and Madhu….as usual the luck of the Vijh shone though with winning the toss and electing to bat. On paper was again a very strong batting lineup. OCC is currently blessed with amazing depth in all departments with the ability to put out 3 strong teams with the 1sts having 2 games this weekend and the 2nd’s playing Sunday.
AmitH and James got off to a steady start before Amit flicked an easy one to square leg. Current robotic run machine Shiv joined James and they set about building a partnership against some very accurate and tight bowling. James departed for 13 in the 15th over with the score on 43. Then a minor collapse unfolded with skipper Vik (2), Tony (0 – putting pressure on Reiny for the duck award this BCF campaign) and Ady (6) departing with only a few runs added.
Shiv and Will steadied the ship and took the score past the 100 mark before a disappointed Shiv in the 34th over was out LBW – a great knock of 54. Will (18) and Jatin (18) played with controlled aggression, but both departed in quick succession and OCC were tinkering on the brink of a well below par score at 125-7 of 35 overs. But its great to have depth and 1st team debutants Ed Packard and Taha Lodhi constructed a fabulous 9th wicket partnership of 65 to drag the final score to 200. After being the chirpiest side early on with the embarrassing fall of regular OCC wickets the 12 Stars sledgers were silenced by the OCC lower order.
There was concern in the air with weather men Ben and Graham doomily predicting rain at 5pm and slim chance of the required 20overs being bowled in the 12 Stars innings.
After a few recent top bowling performances OCC had a reasonable level of confidence that 200 was a reasonable total to defend……only the rain might defeat us. With the skippers call to arms at the team talk and the encouragement of noise and motivation Will and Ed opened with great pace and control. While Will had no luck with the ball going to hand he kept the scoring low, Ed’s effort was rewarded with 3 early wickets with catches all being held. 11 for 3 at 8 overs and the job of the opening bowlers had been done. Taha and Vik took over the battle and while Vik’s guile caused the batters some difficulty it was debutant Taha who stole the limelight – 3 quick wickets for virtually no runs (maybe a wide to keep the oppositions motivation up!), a couple of wickets from Tony and 12 Stars were looking over the cliff at 33 for 8 after 22 overs.
Lower order batters in that situation have nothing too loose and number 10 Ravi Thapliyal set about plastering 4’s and 6’s around the PWCG and the exuberance slowly started to ebb from the OCC faces – but the Optimists spirit is strong and while it was amusing for the 12 Stars team to see some action Taha was brought back on and quickly struck with Ady taking a good catch to remove the stubborn Manoj (6 run of 41 balls!) and then next ball AmitH took a diving left hand catch to give Taha a chance of great debut 5 wicket haul. By now the rain was starting to become annoying, luckily an hour later than our learned weather forecasters had predicted…..one or 2 more lusty blows from Ravi and then Taha completed his 5’fer with Will taking a screamer at mid-wicket. OCC roll-on with another home victory.
Hats off to the spirit of 12 Stars – aggressive and combative on the field but gracious in defeat, all smiles as we pumped fists to celebrate a good match.
Another all-round team performance from OCC and a few pleasant drinks enjoyed in the safety of the Wendy with the rain bucketing down outside……