Friday, August 28, 2009

Match Report: 08/22: vs Nemesis

Finally !
Finally the Immortals raised to the occassion...
Finally the Immortals exceeded their expectations on the field...
Finally catches were held, runs were saved...
Finally the pressure was built upon the opposition...
Finally the Immortals are back in action defending the Gold that they won last year...

This past weekend saw, the Immortals host Nemesis in Cupertino, playing for the Gold Cup as Skiers11 sent Immortals out of the Platinum round a week before. Somehow that loss hurt more than anything and it was utmost important for the Immortals to live up to their name and move on. And did they deliver? Hell Yeah they did and did it in style, leaving no doubt (Copyright - USC Trojans "Leave No Doubt")

Having won the toss, we opted to bat first and were looking forward to step on the gas from ball one. We knew Nemesis were one of the good tough teams in the business, and in order to take this win home, we would have to draw the first blood. But as things can never go according to the plan, Nemesis too had their own tactics as they started their bowling with a spinner in the first over. Something new for us, our batsman had no answer to the spin + pace bowling attach of Nemesis for the first 6-8 overs. Wickets started tumbling at regular intervals and more alarming was the fact that there were 3 run-outs in the first 5 wickets to fall. Clearly, the calling was not good enough and more importantly Nemesis had forced the Immortals on their backfoot in their very own backyard.

Apart from some middle order reprieve coming from Karan Shah (SJSU/Batti) for a brisk 30-ball, 19run contribution, the rest of the batsman just could not help except watch the balls go past their stance, as they tried their best to make contact with the ball. A little help from the extras (15) made the Immortals scorecard read a total of 56 runs in their 20 overs for the loss of 8 wickets. Clearly, the Immortals were dented and that too deeply. But as it is always said "It aint over until its all over" ... And what a second half it was ...

A small huddle (seen after a long time), a pep talk with a clear message - "Keep no pressure, nothing to be conscious about a catch or a run or a boundary hit, just try to give your 200 % and make the opposition toil for each run by hanging on to the match till the last ball is bowled" ... And it was never looking back then for the Immortals. A cover drive, misfielded by Harsh, saw our captain Darshil, jump on the chance of grabbing the ball and send a bullet throw back to the keeper resulting into the biggest blunder for Nemesis - a run out which just sparked the trigger for celebrations. (The practice of hitting our VC Aditya on friday evenings had eventually paid off)... Were the Immortals glad? Just read on for more action ...

The run-out not only set the fielding standard high, but had Viral (Sannato) ripen his vocal chords as he made sure that none of the sounds from Nemesis dug out reached their batsman. With a quick wicket from Nirmam, going two down, Nemesis did the blunder of hitting the ball in air towards Jaishal and what a spectacular catch he held on to with the sun in his eyes. The Immortals were on a roll and the action was just getting better. Jaishal had another chance which he made no mistake to convert to celebrations as Nemesis were soon 4 down.

The battle was still not half won, and their captain Rohan and another middle order batsman were looking to threaten. Karan Shah (Keko) was in his prime best, having taken 2 wickets already. As he sent a ball down Rohan looked to hit it for a square cut, and I am still amazed to what happened there, but the ball came hurling towards me and somehow, just somehow, my hands closed and this time the ball was comfortable pocketed in my palms, as I myself could not believe what had just happened. Keko got his third scalp for the day and finally the shackles were broken for my catching jinx. What a delight it was to finally having held on to that reflex catch. The war was just half from over and the fight was still on as Nemesis were 5 down with their middle order batsman Sarvesh attempting to bring them home.

As it is said, it takes not only courage, strength, stamina and talent to register a victory, but it also takes craftiness and alertness to make it even more special. The next big contribution came from the keeper Ronak, as he managed to flick the bails off Sarvesh but the umpire turning the appeal down. But not being bogged down, Ronak waited for the next opportunity and it did came 2 balls later, as he stumped Sarvesh from quite some distance, and this time the line just belonged to the umpire as he ruled the batsman out - out for his foot were not on the line. The batsman had to walk away grumbling as the Immortals celebrated the 6th and the important wicket of Sarvesh.

After this blitz from the fielders all over, Keko came back and finished what he had started as he took 2 more wickets to take home 5 prized victims - the first time any Immortals bowler had a 5er. Hi-5s were coming from all around as he was forced to do a little McGrath show of holding the ball in his hands and showing it all over. All along this Darshil(C) and Aditya(VC) had got together of cramping the batsman as they sent down 8 overs in tandem with 3 maidens and yielding only 15 runs. The duel got even more intense as Nemesis approached the last over with 8 to win and one wicket in hand, as Nirmam marked his run up and had a little bit of a nervous laugh for bowling the last over. Everyone knew - a single hit towards the ropes and the Immortals would go down once again as chokers - but somehow Nirmam held on to his nerves and sent a fiery delivery to rattle the batsman's furniture as the Immortals leaped in joy for having dismissed the Nemesis for 49 and taking one step closer to the Gold.



Man of the Match - Keko (Karan Shah) for his 5 wickets.

This win truly brought back the memories of the last year's Gold Cup, as the totals, fielding stints, catches, wickets - all were just giving a deja-vu feeling to indicate something special is round the corner. Having said that, a few take-aways were the way Immortals batted which they need to work upon - especially the lower order batsman who need to show more determination and technique in their stroke play. Scoring just 4-5 runs in the last 4-5 overs with 3 wickets in hand is not a good sign to close a batting scorecard. One of the biggest positive take-away is the Faith that the Immortals rode upon for this win. They believed till the last ball that they can win, and they never succumbed to their own pressures.

On a lighter side, we saw Viral (Sannato) do a ramp walk on the pitch whenever there was a ball being pitched on middle and leg. All he would do was just simply walk and take the hit on his butt. Having gone through the photographs I found plenty of such snaps where all he did was just walk showing off his belongings from head till the toe. But his constant blabbering, tauntering and gibberish sledging did play a great role in sending Nemesis packing home to wonder from where have the Immortals found such raw talent... (No offense buddy but came back and added this paragraph) Some selective pics for fun ... (Click to enlarge)

With a two weekend break the Immortals need to get their act together in the batting department, keep up the fire in the bowling and more importantly keep up their faith and determination in the fielding and catching arenas to take them all the way till the end.



Thursday, August 13, 2009

Match Report: 08/09: vs Twenty20 CC

Surprises come and go, the one that works towards a team’s success is the one that is most valuable. Something of this sorts happened in the game this past weekend as Twenty 20 CC paid a visit to the home of the Immortals in Cupertino. The stage was set, the equation pretty clear for the Immortals, win here, and move onto the next game to come one step closer for entering the Platinums, or lose here, and go back to healing your own wounds in the Gold cup.

The toss, rightfully won by our captain Darshil, saw us batting first on a friendly pitch and not-so-hostile surroundings, the ground being our home territory. The one and the only surprise that came in this clash, was the introduction of our impeccable player Nirmam into the top order, as he and Viral were sent to open the innings for us. Someone who was known for giving the bowlers a run for their money with some late hitting down the order when needed, it was a surprise to everyone to see Nirmam bat with sheer confidence, discipline and determination to make sure the Immortals were on their way to win this encounter. Having started slowly and steadily, he and Viral but up a good batting partnership to see off the new ball. With almost a run-a-ball scoring from Nirmam, the Immortals scoreboard kept on ticking.

With 3 quick wickets, and Nirmam holding up the other side of the pitch, Karan (SJSU) was sent in, and he went on to do business as soon as he joined his partner in crime. Three boundaries were scored between them, with 2 lofty shots over deep fine leg into the hard concrete by Nirmam, and one coming off the blade of Karan’s exquisite off side drives. All round contributions from other made the Immortals score look a respectable 79 for the loss of 7 wickets off their 20 overs. Nirmam scoring a brisk 28 off 34 balls and Karan giving support with his 27 ball 16.

Recently enough, a lot of drills has been done in the fielding and catching departments during the practice sessions, and this was just another day when that hard work was going to pay off. With Bhupesh bowling a fierce line and length the batsman from Twenty 20 CC were never allowed to settle in and within just a wink of an eye, Bhupesh ripped off the top order. A great catch, facing the sun, was held by Jaishal in the deep and set the tone for the Immortals. Bhupesh was at his prime best, as he took home 4 scalps off his 4 overs sending down one maiden and giving away a measle 9 runs. The highlight being a ball that just went through the air with such speed so as to rattle the batsman’s furniture, that it was hard not only for the players on the field to see, but it was hard to get a sight of it from the sidelines too. With Darshil bagging 2, and the rest of the bowlers hitting the deck in the right spots to earn 1 wicket each, the only glitch came when Ronak stumped the opposite team’s captain and that guy went ballistic with the umpire. The umpire after 15 minutes of facing the wrath from the captain, intended to walk away from the game out of frustration. The umpire’s aura continues with the Immortals – good or bad, as it has now become inevitable to find ourselves amidst some kind of issues with the umpires, come what may.

At the end the Immortals stepped up to the occasion, leaving no doubt, as winning was not the only goal, but winning with a huge margin was utmost important, if we were to find ourselves in some kind of a tie situation and for the DRR to come into effect. Twenty20 CC were uprooted for just 25 runs with 7 runs of it coming from extras. No batsman ever made it to double figures, and the Immortals could boast of helping their opposition to register 5 ducks.


With this great team performance, now comes an even bigger task as the Immortals face the Skiers11 this coming weekend in a do-or-die game. So stay tuned.