Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A Graceful Defeat

The 'Olympic' games are on in our office. Over the last week-end or so, I played a couple of games - as if 30 minutes of relentless running in the game of Basketball on Friday was not enough, I had to lead my team of 8 players in the cricket match on Sunday! Due to various inevitable reasons we could not field a complete 11-men team for that match. Unfortunately we lost both the matches (BB and cricket, i.e.), but in the defeat there were a lot of positives. First and foremost, the defeat did not have a bitter taste after all. The enjoyment of mere playing was overwhelming and the result was truly immaterial. Although on paper, it would be marked as zero points, there were numerous points that we all took home that day.

Below is the match report I shared with my team after the match, (names don't matter here, for the reader may not know anybody: but he may know the spirit of the game anyway)

It was a nice and bright day which promised a good game of cricket. Neither too hot nor too cold, yet it gave me a few early shivers as due to various reasons people dropped out and we had to manage with eight players, which also was a minimum limit for the game to start off.

The toss was held even before all eight of our team were present on the field. As it turned out it was rather a good toss to lose. The opposition’s captain, Reddy, didn’t waste many picoseconds before he declared to his team that they were going to bat first. I was a bit inclined to batting second and chasing down whatever score was asked of, for many reasons which I would rather hold off.

I tossed the new ball to Saurabh, who was as usual, very enthusiastic about having a go at the opening pair. He started off well, limiting the scores to singles and doubles, and kept the scoring rate under control (under 10, i.e.) Given the shortened form of the game, I thought anything in the neighborhood of 100 was achievable. Kranthi bowled a good first over, and was duly rewarded with a wicket in his first spell – a catch well held together by Sudhir, and ‘they’ were already one down.

The middle overs were particularly handled well by the two Ashish’s. While AshishP had a little bit speedy sting, AshishK stuck well to his line and lenght. It was encouraging to see very few extras given away, and that too in terms of wides. We did not trouble the scorer to scribble his blotted lines in the columns of no-balls and byes. For the opposition, Jay Makhija, the opener, looked to be in a good touch. He scored a patient 34. He was ably supported by his partners who returned one by one after 10-12 runs each. Towards the ‘death’ overs, AshishK bowled remarkably well and had we fielded all-11, we could have plugged the inevitable gaps that allowed a few boundaries. 10 overs completed and they looked to scrore big – around 120+, but thanks to wickets by Saurabh and tight last couple of overs by AshishK and Kranthi, we managed to contain the score to 111.

More than a few lines of applause are due here for Sahil (our manager's ~6 yr old son), who stood in the short fine-leg position and saved invaluable runs. He almost caught a stunner! Way to go little Sahil!

Oh, that’s Nelson’s number -111, (or a rather unlucky number for the Englishmen) was all I exclaimed as we returned to the ‘dressing room.’

To chase this target with only eight players in the side was a tough task, not impossible by any means. We had a plan of fielding an attacking player and a ‘wall’ together to add to the solidarity of the batting order. Sumeet and Sudhir walked in, with a big mountain of runs before them. Sumeet looked his confident self in fending off the few initial deliveries and got the scorecard ticking. Sudhir, unfortunately, fell to a full-toss, a rather deadly weapon that lures the batsman into a shot. The skier was taken and the scoreline read 2/1. The next few deliveries were well left for the ‘keeper and umpire was happy stretching his arms, signaling wides. The very next over, the ‘yellow cherry’ took edge of Sumeet’s bat and the catch was taken. MGEI-4’s scoreline:4/2. At this juncture I decided to go in, with only one thought: we don’t want to get all-out even though we have only 8 players (yeah, and Sahil, of course).

I had AshishP’s as an able partner who encouraged me and that helped calm some of my nerves. I always feel those when I am not off the mark. I left a couple of bad, wide balls, troubled the scorer to mark a few more dots in front of my name. By the third over, we were all set. AshishP was middling the ball well. I had got better of my nerves and we were ready to set sail at full towards the mammoth 112. By the fifth over we were 31/2 and a sign of botheration was already visible on the opposition’s faces. A few fielders managed a vociferous, friendly argument with the umpires, topic of which I have forgotten. I did not want all this to disturb our concentration out there (which, by the way was heating up quite a bit), and was happy taking my own time before taking guard. This trick seemed to help as it broke the bowler’s rhythm, yet added to a nice rapport between us to runners.

After a while, with score nearing 50, AshishP requested for a runner, and Sumeet was already out there the next second! This added to the energy and we stole, robbed, smuggled and burgled n number of runs in no time. Once we ran five, and another time, another four! The fielding standards were poor compared to the Kenyan side, and we had made up our mind to run for anything that was not ‘risky’.

I remember, in between, I drove, cut and pulled in succession and got three boundaries. That must have lifted the spirits of our team, and at the same time must have demoralized the opposition a bit. The opposition was strong, and I think they had their plan of tiring us out (which, I am afraid, worked in the end). With five fielders standing on the off-side boundary and three more on the leg side, it was almost impossible for me to hit any boundaries. I appealed to the umpire in the dying overs if there was any rule of minimum players inside the circle. To our dismay, there wasn’t!

I was involved in a rather unfortunate run-out of AshishP, Kranthi and then my very own. Sometime around 8th over, I think I miscalculated the asking rate, and that probably cost us the match. 28 in 8 balls was difficult on any track, and there I was, rather tired and those fielders looking at my stance through binoculars from the boundary!

Finally, we ended our 12 stipulated overs with 96 on board and 6 wickets down. That we showed a great fight and did not get bowled out was a great achievement in itself. We lost with some dignity and the opposition must have secretly admired the way we played and put up a good fight: after all, I think, that’s what every team dreams of.

We have the next game coming up in two week’s time, and I am sure, with full strength showing up on the field, we can beat the opponents in the next game.

I want to thank you all for the fantastic support and most importantly a game that we all would remember for a long time.

1 comment:

Piyush Sarode said...

Looks like you had a wonderful match.
Hope you go on to win tournament. Best of luck for the next match.