Having confidently bounced back with a confident win away against Mechelen the previous weekend, the OCC 2nd XI welcomed Ghent and were hoping to cement their position at the top of the division 3 table. With skipper Mohit back and winning the toss (as per, with 15 tosses won in a row, all batting first…), surprise surprise, we batted first. In overcast conditions, Ady & Anshuman opened the batting once again. Anshuman fell early on trying to move the score on, bringing the dependable Girish and Ady looked to rebuild against a strong opening bowling lineup. After confidently seeing off the opening bowlers, Girish looked to move on the scoring with 2 gorgeous extra cover drives going for 4. However, the bowler had the final laugh, with Girish being caught behind the following over falling for 22 off 32 balls. With the score at 43 for 2 after 14 overs, the team looked confident for pushing on for a good total, with plenty of time left to bat. Unfortunately, the Ghent bowling lineup had other ideas, with both Thomas and James swiftly arriving and departing in quick succession. This left Marcus and Ady looking to rebuild and negotiate. Things were looking positive, with a good rotation of the strike and sensible batting, with the score slowly climbing. However, the opposition had other ideas, with Ady falling for 24 (off 72 balls), leaving the score at 75 for 5 off 27 overs. This brought in at 7, Pankaj. However, Marcus fell for 7 (off 44 balls). Unfortunately, the lower order could not help Pankaj, with the 4 remaining batsmen falling all for nought. The 2nds finally posted 98 all out in just 36.1 overs. This total unfortunately included five ducks and two 1s, with extras being our top score (31), not a good day for our batting side…
After an early-than-predicted lunch break, and a confusing change of umpire, the optimists bowling attack looked to pounce and bounce back trying to defend this low score knowing that their batting lineup wasn’t as strong as their bowling lineup. Immediately from the off, the optimists’ bowlers were on the spot, with Raju striking in the second over. Runs were hard to come by and pressure was on the batsmen to score for every single run. Runs were not flowing, and the optimists had their tails up. Hari took his wicket in the 7th over thanks to a good running catch from James. With the score at 12 runs for 2 wickets, after the 10 over mark, this clearly wasn’t going to be a classic smash and grab from the Belgian side. Having started positively, the deadly duo of Mohit and Pankaj were brought on as the first change, with Pankaj striking in his first over to leave the score at 22/3 off 12 overs. Maiden after maiden followed on, with the score slowly creeping up we needed wickets. After a solid partnership from the opposition, with the score creeping ever so slowly to the total, Mohit had other ideas with 2 quick wickets, the game was back on! 50 for 5 off after 25 overs. Marcus bowled well but unfortunately couldn’t get a much-needed wicket. After bowling his 9 overs straight on the bounce, the captain turned back to Hari, and then to Vishy and back to Pankaj with the side desperate for a wicket. With the game ever so slowly creeping out of the Optimists’ grasp, Pankaj struck gold with 2 vital wickets leaving the score at 85 for 7. Game on. Raju came back on to take the opposition 8 down. Unfortunately, the game was finished with an emphatic six over cow corner, as Ghent win back 2 wickets.
In an uncharismatically low scoring Belgian league game where only 5 boundaries were hit and a total of 12 maidens were bowled, it wasn’t a day for the batsmen, however, the 2nd XI can be proud of the way that they fought back with the ball and can hold their heads high.
It’s always tough to lose such close and nail-biting games like these. The 2nds still remain top of the table (having played a game more than 2nd place Ghent) and will now have to win all remaining games to in a chance of staying at the top of the table at the season end.