What does it feel to be on the top? How does one get to it, and more importantly will it be a cake walk on the path to success or will it be a topsy-turvy trail to ultimately reach the pinnacle? Well, this was surely not on any one's minds until the first ball was bowled in the game that went by on Saturday in the beautiful city of Fremont. A ground, which is righteously said a batsman's paradise, a place where Immortals re-defined their way of playing a year ago by a stunning win against the Chargers (one of the toughest team in those wonder days, who are down the drain this season), but a ground where the game could have gone any team's way, first things first, most important task to achieve was to win the toss. Nothing that anyone could have helped us achieve this success, and taking into account our Captain's dismal record of losing the tosses (which this season have not affected us, and he has proved all critics wrong by winning the important ones where it did matter a lot lol), this weekend was no different, as he won the toss for us as we choose to bat first.
But before we go into the game details, let us just look what was on stake, of-course apart from the Immortals winning streak which now extends to 4 wins in a row, but more importantly the confidence, the pride and the determination to beat a team of good calibre, a team which had been talked about a lot by Cricbox writers (including me), a team who had a great record of proving that they are on the rise and can beat any good team any given day (of-course except The Immortals lol), and the rookies from last season's games have not been complacent to shred off the momentum. Rising XI, as their name suggests, are surely a great team to watch out for (of-course not against the mighty Immortals), but they did pull off stunning performances, in last season, when they tied the game with Megastars in the Gold Cup finals, and then lost the tie-breaker, but to shoot right back into action, by a great win upsetting the same Megastars beating them fair and square. Fortunately these two teams were in the same group as we were, and oh boy, the tempo was abuzz in excitement, the Immortals camp, just enjoying their victories one after another, and this last weekend they were up against the Rising XI.
Winning the toss, electing to bat, and a poor start from the Rising XI bowlers, our openers Ronak and Darshil did not leave any chance to pounce upon the runs and started hitting the ball for 1s and 2s. The message was simple, a batting platter, try to get a steady start, preserve the wickets for some fireworks later in the innings. The opening pair has become quite outstanding, with both batsmen having complementing styles of playing and hitting the balls. Ronak who is a bit more aggressive in his approach on some occassions, tends to complement his partner in crime, our Captain Dagga Sheth, who is an elegant stroke player. His 4s over the cover, on the off side have now become his trademark shot, and anytime during a game, he would just go and execute that shot to perfection. They were going good, but then the dreadful happened, something that anyone would hate, a run-out, especially when things looked rosy all around with the ball coming on to the bat, and the pitch offering nothing to the bowlers. Darshil was run out and in walked our own, Sannato, who has a unique style of his own when he stands up in the crease. With Ronak on the roll, Sanato took a back seat approach, and just played some shots to settle down, but then after a clean hit by Ronak, a lapse of judgement from him, made him go for the same shot and the ball just landed into the fielder's hands. That fielder was somehow pulled back to the same place where Ronak had hit the ball in the same over.
With both the openers back into the dugout, the score read, 3 overs 25 odd runs for the loss of 2 wickets. Sanato was settled, and Jainip joined the bandwagon of runs. Both of them played outstandingly well, with no misjudgements, no false run calls, shots were all clean hits, and on the way to a great partnership, both of them took the Immortals to the 10 over break without losing a wicket, and the score reading 55+ runs. Bhupesh our leading run scorer this season (of-course he has to be the leading run getter, as he scores for all the games, and ironically never gets to bat lol ...), commented that it had been a long long time, since the score read such marvellous figures, of 2 wickets down for 55 odd runs. After the break the message was out, go for the kill, as there were plenty to come. Sannato and Jainip batted right out of their skins, always on the look out for the bad balls, and cleverly defending to the good ones. No extravagant shots, they made a mockery of the bowlers by putting up a partnership of 50 odd runs (Guessing), with the highlights being Jainip's sweep shots, Sannato's reverse sweep (which did not even cross the crease lol), Sannato's lucky escape for a runout when our champ, out of sheer confidence thought that the ball was hit for a four, and so was just lazily wandering in the middle of the pitch, exhcanging his "IPL fantasy" stats with Jainip, that he suddenly realizes, that he needs to complete the run as the ball never crossed the boundary. The dug out was literally on their feet shouting at him, to return to the bowlers end, and luckily enough the throw was a complete waste and he was safe. Had he got out, then I think he would have just handed his resume to Rising XI to request them to keep him alive and recruit him, because, with this blunder if he had walked back to The Immortals camp, I think next season we would all be praying in Thornton Jr. High School, right near the grave where Sannata's body would have been rotting for years to come. We would have 100 % literally dug out a grave for him and rightfully have thrown him in that pit to rot. But God taught him a lesson, as he fell down on his "dhekka" (hips) lol, while executing a shot (which was a delight to watch) ...
Jainip gave Sannato great support in the beginning, as he just calmly (which is his style of playing), played around with the ball, giving Sannato maximum time to get the momentum going. Sannato, was bowled for well deserved run-a-ball 30 hitting two 4s in the process. With him saving his ass by playing nicely, all was forgotten about his mesmerizing stroll down the pitch and then scurrying back to the crease to save his ass again by not getting run-out. In walked Kapad (Kunjan), who in the practice game some time back against Rising XI had literally plundered all the bowlers. Will this be a revenge for the Rising or will Kapad still walk back his head held high chanting "Hu La, Pattar Fadi Nakhi Baka La" ... Well it happened so, that Rising XI one more time, could do nothing to stop this massively built Bhim of Cricket, as he not only hit the only 6 of the Immortals innings, but played superbly with sweetly timed shots, to remain not out on 24 of just 28 balls. Jainip got out for a nicely crafted innings of patience and stroke play to get 26 off 36 runs in his kitty. When Kapad was batting, everyone in the dug out were just literally chanting for a boundary to give Kapad some confidence to freeze his arms and hit the bowlers all around the park. But the 6 came after a great patient stand with Jainip as they helped Immortals reach the magical figure of 100. Aditya our VC, once again maintained his game, and scored a brisk, 9 of 6 balls to remain not out one more time.
What a great performance it was, with 3 batsman scoring 20+ runs and the total reading 113 for 4 wickets in 20 overs. With just 10 extras given away by Rising XI, it felt supremely great to see batsman scoring 103 runs off the bat. But, a year back when Chargers scored 82 odd runs, and The Immortals were put into the chase batting second and they did win it, everyone knew that the pitch had nothing for the bowlers, and even though 100+ runs is a bit difficult to achieve, no one wanted to get complacent to give away the game. The message was loud and clear, bowlers stick to their plans, dont experiment and bowl a tight line and length, and the instructions were 2 simple words "Strict Fielding". The ground which was almost a 360 degree outfield, had plenty of runs stored for the batsman, and we did not wanted to drift away from the game.
Bhupesh opened the bowling for us, and from the first over itself he was bang on target. He got us the first breakthrough as he got one of the openers out for a duck caught by Jainip on the leg side for a nice catch and the Immortals were licking their lips for the first taste of success. Nirmam was bowling with an injured leg from last game, but he did awesome to tighten the screws on the batsman who were put under pressue due to the loss of an early wicket chasing a mammoth total of 100 + runs. Bhupesh and Nirmam bowled a teasing line, with great pace and accuracy to make the batsman play to get them out or to get them on the back foot and increase the pressure. And they were not deprived of their rewards as Nirmam got the second break through getting the vice captain out and then in walked Rising XI's star batsman Ashwin Gannamraju. Everyone was aware about his blitzkrieg type hitting and winning many games for Rising XI, but will he be able to do so once again against the Immortals? Or will he falter on his way to glory? Well no one would have expected what was to come, but Bhupesh ran in bowling a nice delivery to Ashwin who was facing the first ball, and whack off wen the bowl for a four just missing Kapad's hands at long off position. And boy, Bhupesh was all fired up, and in came a fiery delivery and whack, Ashiwn executed the same shot once again, the all soaring high and high, everyone's eyes set on the ball, expecting it to land outside the boundary ropes, and it did land, but right into the arms of the hulk Kapad. And this time he made no mistake to hold on to it, as the Immortals erupted in joy. What a waste, what a blunder and what foolish over confidence by the batsman to come and just start hitting the ball all over the place, as if The Immortals are breeding a bunch of kindergarden alley type bowlers. Total Waste !!! That must have taught him a lesson to atleast give some respect to some of the top bowlers especially is he is facing the likes of Bhupesh. What a wicket.
The ball was then turned to Keka (Karan), our only bowler who loves to bowl round the stumps, with his cap on, which now has become one of the most talked possession by the Immortals, that everyone now wants to throw their caps on the ground, as soon as wicket falls to imitate Keka lol ... But then our opener from Rising XI, got the whiff of Keka's cap tactics, and requested (literally argued) with the umpire to make Keka get rid of his cap while bowling. But what a mockery of the batsman as Keka bowled the very first ball to him, and he went for it and ended up giving a lollypop to Aditya at point. Everyone were not just excited happy for wiping of 5 of the batsman but were laughing at Keka's cap therapy. Cap or no cap, Keka is at his best. What was to come next was a frustrating partnership between the two middle order batsman, and some fine hitting by their batsman Gaurav. At one stage even though the target was far off, the game was felt not to be over yet. And with the runs coming quickly, the batsman settled down to take Rising XI home with a win. But what came next was a blunder from them as everyone goes for it under pressure. The batsman having scored the first run, went off for a second, to rightfully being sent back by the non-striker but alas it was too late, and even though there was some fumbling by Aditya the batsman was run out by Sanato. Well, in that same process he knocked the wind out of my mouth, as he banged into me while getting the batsman out. My tongue was crushed between my teeth and I think that was the only time I realized I was in the game lol ... Uptil then I was kind of dozing around in sleep with nothing to do lol ...
With Darshil introduced into the bowling attach, he lived up to the expectations as he deivered a maiden in his spell of 3 overs giving away only 4 runs and taking home 2 wickets. The highlight was a satisfying wicket keeping take by Ronak, who was standing up at the stumps and the batsman went for a square cut, getting an edge and Ronak completing the catch with amazing alertness. It is hard to stand at the stumps and take such a blinder in a fraction of a second. But after all The Immortals breed the best people in their respective departments. (OK, OK I know I am not best at anything lol, but then I do give you these reports guys along with my awesome Right Arm Very Very Slow Orthodox Stomach Spin bowling style lol... Just kidding). With the tail being exposed, their settled batsman Gaurav started going for the kill, as he hit two shots on the leg side for 2 consecutive sixes for the first two balls of Keka's over, and taking 18 runs in that single over. But all that while, the dugout of Rising XI, were showering abuses with the "F" word, and I as usual just wanted to vent my anger out with Nirmam giving me company. The moment which we both were waiting for was not delayed any further, as Bhupesh got the Captain of Rising XI out with an awesome yorker. That was a fired up revenge for him as he was hit for a six just one ball before that. That brought back the memories of Prasad and Aamir Sohail's incident, and me and Nirmam literally showered back the "F" words without any regret whatsoever, to Rising XI, as the batsman walked back looking at his uprooted leg stump. Then came the second chance to shout the "F" word even louder, as Ronak got a stumping brilliantly done to send back the batsman with the victory on the horizon. Well it was a piece of cake after Darshil's great spell, for Aditya to dismantle the furniture of one of the batsman with the bat still in the lift pose, and the ball already passing the batsman, destroying the stumps on its way. The batsman was just left dumbfounded as he was beaten by sheer Tofu Pace of Aditya. The last wicket was a simple catch taken by Keka of Aditya's bowling. That was all the Immortals needed.
Victory had never felt so great of a taste, success had never been felt so dear to the hearts of many amongst the Immortals, as the celebrations continued with just one straightforward statement "What a Team Performance" !!! Rightfully, the man of the match went to Viral (Sannato), but as Cricbay does not allow Man of the Match awards to be shared, it has to be mentioned here on this report that Sannato, Kapad and Jainip are Man of the Match holders to bring this awesome victory home. The Rising XI were all out for 78 and to add to this victory one more outstanding achievement was the number of extras we gave away - a mere 6 runs.
What did not click this game?
Everything was up one notch higher than all the previous games:
Batting - Awesome
Bowling - Awesome
Extras Controlled - Awesome
Energy Level - Awesome
Confidence Level - Awesome
Fielding - Awesome
F Words and Aggression - AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME (Keep them coming when needed, IF NEEDED)
The only thing that did not click was my DSLR. Unfortunately, I forgot it at home, and I do not have any moments to share from the field.
Just as I was preparing this report the following email came from our Captain Dagga Sheth (Darshil) which I am reproducing below:
With one more convincing win, we are at the top spot in Group A!!!!
The credit for this goes to great team performance, energy and hunger for win.
Some of the achievements already in this season:
- No. 1 team in the Group
- Highest DRR in the Group
- two 100+ scores in 4 games
- Win against platinum team
- Stop Rising's rising
- Half century from an Immortal
And I am sure there are many more to come.
But with these rewards comes greater responsibility. It is tough to reach to the top spot but it is even tougher to maintain that position.
Look at the results from this weekend:
- Cheers defeated Challengers
- Cosmos defeated Megastars
- Thunderdawgs defeated Knights
- Aptech scored 140+ against Darkhorse
These results suggest that we can not take any of the games lightly.
Lets continue with the same energey, confidence and our 'one game at a time' approach and continue our winning streak by killing knights this weekend.
Hope to see a lot of comments on this report for this fantastic well deserved TEAM WIN !!!
Up next is our last year's Gold Cup Finals opponents - Knights !!!