Clear skies, mercury showing 60's to 70's, a pitch where memories were relived when The Immortals won the Gold Cup in their first Regular season of Cricbay, and the question on everyone's mind was can we do it one more time to be unbeaten on this ground where we defined the Immortality and took home the coveted Gold? Can we deliver one more win against a team which are competetive, someone who have earned a decent reputation in the league and have given consistent performances to rightly call themselves "MegaStars"...
Well as it was to be, the game was played on Sunday on the same ground where Immortals played their Finals of the Gold Cup and won it, so that meant everyone was aware of the pitch, the outfield conditions and given the performances we were putting up every weekend, the call after winning the toss was to bat first. And our captain Darshil, did not disappoint us by winning the first toss for the season, and rightfully choose to bat first. After all, it was going to be a tough fight chasing on such minefield pitches where the ball just blasts and shoots from all odd angles.
The target was straightforward, save the wickets, but don't get bogged down and get to a decent start taking calculated risks. The pitch was, as I said a layer of mines put beneath the turf all ready to explode any moment, with the balls either staying low or bouncing at odd heights to humilate even Kapad the tallest of our camp. Once again, it was Darshil and Ronak who opened the innings for The Immortals, and from the second ball of the first over everyone knew this might go down the wire, when Ronak had a thick edge, the sound of which echoed all around the Silicon Valley except within the umpire's ears, and luckily enough the batsman did not budge from his position, and despite aggressive appeals from the opposition, the batsman was ruled not out. What a start ... What a lucky save, to which our batsman did some heroics of his own, by looking towards the dugout and indicating with his hands whether we all heard the knick or not ? LOL !!! What a way to frustrate the opposition and what a way to dig out a grave for the umpire too ...
We were off to a decent start and Darshil was playing freely building his innings around confidence, hunger to score runs and a little aggressive approach to set a tone for others to follow. A maiden wicket over to send back Ronak, was followed by 5 dot balls from the same bowler, with Darshil on the strike, but then he already had enough of the bowler, as he went after him by hitting the last ball, implementing an exotic stroke which was a delight to watch and to capture in the lens, to get a boundary, the first of his innings. Sannato (Viral) was holding up the other hand pretty well too, as The Immortals scoreboard read, 36 runs for the loss of just 1 wicket...
This has now started becoming a tradition for us to follow, and I personally think (and am sure almost everyone of us would agree) that the real challenge in playing Cricbay's 20-20 type Tennis ball cricket is not how hard you can hit the ball, not even how aggressive you can be, but the advantage lies in the scoreboard you have put up at a break of 10 overs. With 9 wickets in hand, and a decent total of 30+ runs on the board of 10 overs, and another 10 to go, the batsman then have the license to kill and after seeing off a couple of overs, can aim for a good total to put pressure on the opposition. No use in scoring 50 runs off 10 overs by losing 7-8 wickets and then folding up the rest of the innings in 5-7 runs to get a measely total of 55-60... So I think The Immortals are coming off age, and touch wood, it is not just one man show, but on a given day any one of the top 11 (lol) can click and can give the opposition a taste of Immortality ... 3 cheers to that :)
After the break, the batsman started opening up the face of the bat a bit more freely, with a couple of good overs, the Immortals were still very much on the track for a good total. But then the thing which we all so much want to run away from, a superstitious thought, and it hanuted us once again and the Immortals found themselves once again cursing the ill-fated total of 52 runs on the board, and a couple of wickets went down. It has become inevitable for The Immortals to stir up some tension in the dugout whenever the score reaches 52-53 and co-incidentally enough we have observed that somehow or the other we always lose the momentum on this figure. It seemed we were once again on the verge of another batting collapse, but what was started by our Captain, was then finished off by our Vice Captain, Aditya as he scored a brisk 15 off just 20 balls, to take the team to a respectable total of 80 runs at a loss of 8 wickets. On the way to it he also helped me to get a great strike rate of 0 balls faced and 0 runs scored, when he called for a suicidal run and got me run out lol ... I was so much wanting to send him back but then thought maybe the layers of Butter, Cheese and Paneer was too much for him to do a 360 degree turn and go back, and even if he managed somehow to swivel off the gigantic legs, my money was on the possibility that he definitely could not have bent down so much to ground the bat in time as someone mentions that it is always his beer belly that crosses the crease first rather than the bat or the legs lol ... No offense but that is how our VC is lol :) The Megastars did bowl well to restrict us to just 80, when we were trying to aim for atleast 90 odd runs and that is reflected in the number of extras they sent down - a mediocre 5 extras ...
End of the innings, and the job was still only half done ... The bowlers were on the radar and had to fire all cylinders to suppress the opposition right from the first ball ... The opening pair of Bhupesh and Nirmam bowled extraordinarily great to push Megastars on the back foot ... Fielding was one notch higher this time, and people were just falling for the ball everywhere backing the bowlers to increase their confidence... Amazing is the fact that 3-4 good fielding stints gives the bowler so much confidence and freedom to try something new and that is the trump ball which gets us a wicket ... 6 overs between Nirmam and Bhupesh they gave away only 12 runs and with Bhupesh getting us the two great breakthroughs to literally suffocate the batsman. The ball was then turned to our VC, Aditya, and after a long break, he did his job, and the figures were a reminiscence of last year's bowling, where he would bowl 4 overs, give away 3-5 runs and fire a maiden in between and gobble up 3-4 wickets (giving justice to his appetite)... This game, he did something similar, as he took home 4 wickets, for mere 4 runs of 20 legitimate deliveries... That was some bowling performance with only 9 extras given in the innings and the bowlers bowling in tandem made sure that Megstars were not to a great start as expected ... At the break their score read some 18-20 runs for the loss of 3-4 wickets ... The game was pretty much over by then, but as I always say, it aint over until its all over ...
Their two middle order batsman were literally frustrating us at one point of time, when they would play and miss, or just stand there and defend. They both faced a total of 50 deliveries before falling for Aditya's pace ... The highlight of Aditya's bowling was a fast off-cutter which just went through the batsman's defenses and uprooted the leg stump... There was some good bowling figures for both the Karans and leaving the only 4 which Megstars hit to our Captain Darshil, his figures were also decent. Overall it was a great bowling performance backed by superb fielding which caused 4 runouts and ended the Megastars innings at 48 runs. The highlight of the fielding side were two brilliant runouts both from Karans - Batti and Keka, one the bowler's end with a throw from behind the Keeper by Batti and another a direct hit by Keka to rattle the furniture before the batsman was even in eye sight ... Awesome fielding guys, it won us the game we wanted to :) ...
The funny part is if we take a look at the scorecard, I guess of all the playing 11 in this game, every one did a bit of everything except one player lol :
Darshil - Scored Runs
Viral - Scored Runs and took a catch
Ronak - Took a catch and got a runout
Aditya - Scored Runs, Took 4 wickets
Nirmam - Got a runout
Jainip - Got a runout
Karan (Keko) - Got a runout
Karan (Batti) - Got a runout
Bhupesh - Got 2 wickets
Kapad - Atleast he faced a ball and connected for a shot..
The only person who did nothing at all was ME LOL !!!Samy - No runs scored, No balls faced, No bowling (which of-course I dont think I have to when other medium pacers are doing well lol), and of-course NO CATCHES EITHER !!! So Kapad do feel better as you atleast faced one ball lol ... So what did I do? Well as always, I was capturing the above moments and are showcased here (sorry but I did not sort ALL of them to reduce the redundant pics):
Click on the links below:
The man of the match was Dagga seth (Captain) for his well fought 30 runs on a degrading pitch and giving us the opportunity to witness some of the finest stroke plays in recent days ... But I think the MOM awards should be shared with me, toppling everyone on the list in batting, bowling and fielding at 2500+ pics capturing all these catches, runs scored and wickets taken. So that actually makes me the prime player of The Immortals. People are not aware of "real" talent I tell you ... JK :) LOL !!!
Next up is going to be Rising XI after we enjoy a break from the action for the weekend of 18-19th. Till then enjoy the pics, follow The Immortals and stay tuned for more exciting reports.
(PS: There are some adult pics of our VC - Aditya, which my camera clicked on its own, so if you guys want to view it kindly put a request in the comments section and I shall send you the link ... LOL - I did not want to embarass our lovely tooty frooty chubby VC lol :) )