The Convoy of the Optimists firsts cars led by the Racer Warlord, Tony Whiteman, who gathered early Sunday morning @ Glacis, left to Wemmel with a Battle Cry rooting “First away win, First away win”. “Tournaments are always won in the Away games” the inducement asserted repeatedly from the OCC club legends has never left the thoughts of the Firsts boys. After a default stop at Wanlin to attend their customary rituals before the game, the convoy hit the road again, dint took a detour via Ghent fortunately this time as the team reached Wemmel well within schedule.
“Not a bad toss to loose”, asserted by the Talisman skipper, Vikram Vijh, to the Team folks as the opponents PCCB-I opted to bat, which ended to be the lone productive result for them .This was followed by the lazy warmups, fumbling catching practice and spraying bowling drills by the squad only not to repeat any of the flaws in the game.
Bowling in Partnerships
Atif Kamal, the A-Train, started the proceedings for Optimists firsts with a top notch delivery first up which produced an edge flew very low to the ground and held beautifully at gully by Amit ….Err…or so the Optimists thought….Sorry the umpire thought otherwise and adjudged Not-out. A-Train continued firing his bullet like deliveries on to PCCB batsmen beating them all ends up tying them to the crease as Ankush from the other side kept on chipping with wickets as he trapped the batsmen with his sharp in-swingers, and also with help of some fine catching from dynamic Akhilesh and Anoop. The scoreboard stood at mere 37/4 in 12 overs (With Ankush picking 3 and Atif his solitary wicket) after the initial spell of the fast bowling duo had ended, elucidating the importance of bowling in partnerships.
PCCB middle order Fightback & OCC skippers witty bowling changes
Whilst Ankush is already thinking on reserving the table, ordering curry @Namur restaurant on the way back expecting a batting collapse, PCCB-I middle order showed some resistance with scoring some quick runs. Vik, the skipper sensed the urgency in breaking the threatening partnership of 49 runs for the 5th wicket introduced himself and the show man, Akhilesh into the attack. They both broke through the middle order with some tight lines and some wily slower ones and sent back both mainstays for PCCB-I, Scoreboard read 80-6 after 19 overs. Vik gave Taha a go, to rip through the lower middle order (with no mathematical probability of picking 5 wickets this time though ). Taha rushed the PCCB batsmen with some pacey leg cutters and picked a wicket in very second over pushing the opponents even deeper into troubles, PCCB – I 84-7 after 22 overs.
The Clean-up Job and Seasons 5th Fifer for Optimists
Ankush came back with a bang by castling the batsmen stumps with his very third ball of his second spell (92-8 in 26 overs), already eying for another fifer as it has been a while after the famous one against Turkey in Romanian tournament earlier last year.
(Cric stat: Ankush Nanda’s 5 for 6 against turkey is the world’s 10th best T20i bowling figures now)
And finally he picked his 5th wicket in his penultimate over and ended with a well-deserved stats of 5 for 20 in his full quota of 10 overs, well supported by Atif , whose stats doesn’t translate his amazing partnership bowling with Ankush. Vik completed the formalities by picking up the last wicket and restricting the opposition to mere 111 in 32.3 overs and made sure the momentum is with OCC.
Early Set Back and Unfortunate Dismissals
After a delectable innings break, thanks to Praveen’s special chicken biryani, Optimists started their innings with a new opening pair of Anoop and Amit to chase down the target of 111 set by PCCB. Although the batsmen started confidently, OCC had their first set back @10 as Anoop drove a ball to the left of cover fielder, who took a good low catch. Then arrived Joost Mees to team up with Amit and were set to repeat the batting carnage they did last year against the same team in T20s. Joost played cautiously and as well punished the odd loose deliveries to boundaries. The batting pair looked unstoppable until Joost was adjudged caught behind by the umpire. OCC -1 @35-2 in 6.2 Overs
The Restoration job and the Finish
Vikram entered the crease to face the fiery sling and consistent bowling of PCCB with still 77 more runs needed. He started to find his rhythm while Amit on the other side played a matured and cautious innings as he was aware of the untrue bounce in the wicket. Amit had to head back to the dugout getting out bowled to a bizarre short pitch delivery which hit bottom of his leg stump. He scored a well-paced and matured 20 with 2 huge sixes towards the square leg which even awed the rival team players. (OCC 59-3 after 10 overs). Vik who looked like in total control was out unfortunately in the 12th over trying to force an aggressive shot. Tony tagged with Shiv to make sure no other optimist wicket falls and take the team home. Shiv, who is the currently the leading run getter for the division, is not new to this situation. He absorbed the pressure asserted from the oppo bowlers and rotated the strike with confidence. Tony has different plans in mind, after settling in the wicket he started the best thing he knows “Counter Attack”.
As Tony started punishing the bowlers at will Shiv played with resilience and equally matched Tony’s aggression with his extra special cover drives. The partnership included sharp running, glamorous shots, solid defensive play and Tony running in to the fields to fetch the balls he hit for boundaries . They both assured the team crossed the target with ease and handed probably the most clinical win of the season in just 19.2 overs.
(Bowling Figures OCC-1 : Ankush 5/20, Atif 1/39, Akhilesh 1/20, Vikram 2/25, Taha 1/6)
(Batting Figures : Amit 20, Joost 20, Tony 30*, Shiv 19*)
With this win Optimists 1sts cement their place on the top of the division and with their eye on clinching the Div. 2 title!