Monday, October 19, 2009

Road to the Gold Cup Finals !!!

(PS: Sorry for the late post)

The Golden Days are back, and with it, back is the rhythm, the confidence and the tempo for the Immortals who are going to play their second Gold Cup Finals this Sunday in Fremont. It was a year back when a rookie team entered the league of Cricbay with one aim in mind – Play good cricket and alongside have some competitive fun. Flashback to last year’s Regular Season 2008, The Immortals played Knights in the Gold Cup Finals and put up an awesome display of performances from the playing 11 to bring home the glory of the Gold Cup. Fast forward today, once again The Immortals riding on a great Regular Season 2009, would be facing Eagles (Aptech CC) for the Gold title and looking to the history between these two teams we expect fireworks to see who gains a positive edge over the other.

Round 1 – Rebuilding the Team, Rebuilding the Confidence
This year’s regular season began for the Immortals with a lot of good, great and fierce names in the business. Their first group made them rub their shoulders with : Royal Ranji, Darkhorse CC, Megastars, Rising XI, Knights, Thunderdawgs, Cosmos CC, Eagles, Cheers CC, Challengers CC.

Some of the moments that have proved to be morale boosting and some which were heart breaking tells a lot about this team – A team that has seen it all. With easy victories to close defeats The Immortals played out of their skins in Round 1 with just one aim in mind – One game at a time, and One step towards the Platinum. Let’s take a brief journey through their Round 1 games and see if they were able to quench their thirst for the Platinum or did the Cricketing Gods had something else planned?

The first two games the Immortals rebuilt their confidence in two different types of situations. Against Royal Ranji, the Immortals successfully chased a total of 70+ runs in just under 15 overs whereas in their next game against Dark Horse CC, they went out all guns blazing and managed to pile up 100+ runs in their quota of 20 overs with one of their batsman scoring the first half century in the history of the Immortals. With two such confident wins, their next opponent was a much tougher side and righteously veterans of the league – Megastars. Batting first and in spite of putting up 80 runs on the board, the Immortals were very much aware of their opponent’s caliber and with this in mind they did not leave any stone turned as they bundled them out for just under 50 runs.

With such 3 victories in the kitty, their next opponent Rising XI were grinded to dust as the Immortals put up a fierce batting display with fireworks all around as they managed to score 110+ runs and register a convincing victory by a margin of 35 runs. Their next game would be a repeat of last year’s Gold Cup finals, as they faced a resurgent Knights team who were on the prowl to avenge their gold cup final defeat. But with their bowling on its prime, and the batting hitting a purple patch, The Immortals cruised through yet another victory by 7 wickets. With 5 wins in 5 games, the Immortals looked forward to extending their winning streak against a team who had stunned everyone with their opening records of winning 8 out of 9 games previous season – Thunderdawgs. With excellence in fielding and raising their standards to the next level, the Immortals stunned Thunderdawgs to register their 6th consecutive victory.

But just as every good thing has to come to an end eventually, the Immortals faced a roadblock in taking their tally of wins to 7. Cosmos CC played the spoilsport this time as they defeated the Immortals by 4 wickets. To add to it, their next opponent, and this year’s Gold Cup Final’s opponents – Eagles, were all roaring in form as they hosted the Immortals and edged past them in the closest of victories in recent times on the last ball with just one wicket left. That was a heart breaking moment more due to the fact that each team played out of their skins.

Making a comeback is never easy, but the Immortals convincingly did that in their next game against Cheers CC and with just one game left to end Round 1 the Immortals wanted to make sure they enter Round 2 with oozing confidence. But just as it seemed maybe the Immortals are back on the winning track, Challengers CC got the opportunity to hit the final nail in the coffin and the Immortals ended Round 1 with 7 Wins and 3 Losses.

Round 2 – The Fight for the Platinums
With one aim in mind, to qualify for the Platinums, the mantra was simple – Be amongst the top 2 in the group and you are through to the Platinums. But the path to the victory was not going to be easy as said than done. The opponents were no mere jokes, and their performances were not ordinary. With everyone on a knife’s edge, the battle to the top began between The Immortals, Hurricanes, Twenty20 CC, Skiers.

Their first game against the Hurricanes saw the Immortals put up a decent batting performance but with some lackluster bowling stints made it easy for their opponents to take one step to the top as Immortals were facing the end of the barrel. From a bad bowling effort to one of the most dominating bowling spells all around, The Immortals registered their first victory in Round 2 against Twenty20 CC as they dismissed them for a mere 25 runs. With one more win needed the clash against Skiers was not a pleasant experience as the Immortals went sprawling out of the Platinum Qualifiers and ended up playing for the Gold Cup.

Playoffs – Defending the Gold
With the Immortals now playing for the inevitable Gold Cup to repeat what they did last year and have two silverware on the shelf, the Playoffs brought out a lot of déjà vu moments as Immortals rocked their opponents crushing them with confidence and wasting no time in setting the tone for the finals. Mind you, these were respectable opponents who on their given day can make sure you grind the dust in defeat.

First up was Nemesis, who have been around for quite some time now and knew exactly how to slay their opponents which they rightly did by dismissing the entire Immortals side for a mere 56 runs. But the Immortals who have always fought back with their bowling strength came out of the blue and shocked Nemesis by 7 runs to enter the Quarter Finals.

In the QFs, the Immortals ran into Daakus, a team whom they had played only once before and that too in a practice match during the younger days of Immortals’ formation. Once again the batting let Immortals down as they were on the brink of a defeat and being sent home packing as they collapsed for mere 44 runs on the board. But having put up a fight a weekend ago, the Immortals knew it wasn’t still over as they came with all fire to send Daakus home for 36 runs thus making their way into the Semi Finals.

Their last stop before the coveted place in the Finals, and the Immortals hosted a well deserved semi finalist Yuva XI. With two matches in a row being won on the bandwagon of great bowling display, this clash was no different, as the Immortals dismissed Yuva for a measly 41 runs and then made sure they could catch up with some rest as they scrapped off those runs just a ball under 10 overs.

The Gold Cup Finals
With their last victory against Yuva XI, the Immortals are now facing Eagles in the Gold Cup Finals to be held at Thornton Jr. School in Fremont, the ground which reminds the Immortals of two fantastic victories in crunch moments and against respectable opponents. Could this be the day when Immortals re-wrote history by winning their back to back Gold Cup in Regular Seasons and still maintain their winning record on this ground?

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