Rewind a year and a half, and a bunch of enthusiastic cricket lovers came together to shape up a team and play some good cricket and have some fun along that journey of ups and downs. With no idea of how Tennis Ball Cricket looks like and never ever having played on a diamond field before, a young rookie team were facing a good strong veteran team Daakus that day and mind you, their first step brought out a lot of question marks as they went down against Daakus in an emphatic fashion. The loss even though in a practice game set the tone for months to come, as the then losing team went on to win a lot of accolades in the opening season.
Fast-forward to the last weekend, that same team, righteously now called The Immortals, were once again facing their opponents from the past - Daakus, against whom they had lost their first exhibition match and had never played before in a regular season game. With the Platinum left for some other season, The Immortals had only one goal to achieve - Play with your heart, give a 100 % and repeat the Gold victory like last year to make it two trophies on the shelf. This game being the Quarter Finals, had to be won by either of the teams, to advance further and keep their dreams alive. With some ground issues popping up, the game was reduced to 16 overs per side and The Immortals went into bat first after winning the toss.
The 16 overs per side seemed to be playing quite a different rhythm on the batsman as compared to the regular 20 overs game. Viral (Sannato) looked to capitalize on the short leg side fence with his constant complaints about allocating just one run as the ball goes over the rope. With some solid hitting from him, and some extras from the opposition, the scoreboard seemed to be ticking in good shape. But then, the usual monotonous routine happened. Immortals lost some quick wickets in the middle before the break, and with Viral departing ways, the first ball after the break, the captain, Darshil, gave good support at the other end, but none of the other top guns fired their cylinders at the right moment. A spinner from Daakus, caused some early damage and later on a good line and length bowler swomped off the rest of the batsman off their feet. Not even having played their full quota of 16 overs, the Immortals were bowled out for a total of just 44 runs on the board.
Finsing themselves in a similar situation against Nemesis, the Immortals knew, that it aint over yet. But it would definitely need something special from the bowlers and more importantly from the fielders to take this game all the way home and down the wire. And having said that the bowling session hit off on the right note, now that the Immortals have set a trend of inflicting run-outs in the first 5 overs and sending fearful vibes down the other batsman to come from the opposition. This time it was no different, as the first wicket was a run out and that must have sparked the wicket keeper Ronak's natural talent, that he managed two catches, one run out and one stumping (which has now become a regular sight). On the whole, it was a great display of bowling from all the 5 bowlers - Bhupesh, Nirmam, Darshil, Keko (Karan) and Aditya (VC).
Whether it was the fiery pace from Bhupesh, or the consistent line and length from Nirmam, be it the teasing deliveries of Darshil or the economical bowling of Keko, everyone clicked at the same time resulting into an awesome show of bowling. But a delivery that stood out of the numerous ones send down by Aditya was the first ball of his first over and the batsman just tried playing it down with a defensive shot, and it knicked the bat onto its way into the safe gloves of Ronak. A ripper of a delivery it was from Aditya.
Those rigorous fielding and catching practice sessions every friday evening seemed to have paid off for the last two games, as the Immortals fielders were backing their bowlers with great enthusiasm and flawless fielding on the ground. Scratches, dives and blood drops are now a regular sight which the Immortals do not seem to worry about while dominating the field during their bowling session. The scorecard speaks for itself, as none of the Daakus batsman managed to come close to double figures. Even though there were some tense moments when 15 runs were required off the last 3 overs with a couple of wickets in hand, but Aditya who went on to become the Man of the Match for his spell, made sure that the batsman never came out of their shell, as ball after ball, he sent down unplayable deliveries devouring two wickets for his spell of 4 overs bowled in tandem in one spell with one maiden and yielding just 6 runs in the process.
The game in spite of playing a see saw battle of its own went into the last over as Nirmam was once again handed the responsibility of taking the Immortals home. With 11 runs required of the last over the message across the field was simple enough, stop the boundaries, overthrows and extras. Singles should be ok. With a dropped catch from Aditya, a missed out diving effort to run out a batsman from me, things were already in the Immortals hand, but a bang-on-target throw from Kapad to the non-striker's end hit the final nail on the coffin as Daakus were all out for a measle 36 runs.
Sorry there were no pitcures taken, but the flashes of the entire game still hang fresh in the Immortals mind, as they are now into the Semi Finals and one win away from playing the finals of the Gold Cup. It has been a great season for the Immortals and they would surely like the momentum going with more and more wins and improvements in certain aspects.
The Immortals are on a roll, the Gold Cup totals are back but more importantly the Gold Cup Winning faith, belief and the confidence is back amongst the players. And as always said, if you believe you can, you would !!!