Two Fifties, very nearly a Hattrick, Time Running out (And did you know that India is in the World Cup Final.....?)
See scorecard here
This was it, the first time we'd played old friends and ground sharing rivals - Poble Sec - since the Friendship Cup Round Robin match in September 2013. Then, Poble Sec (Whom will be known as PSCC from here on in) triumphed by 6 runs, and now was time to set the record straight.
Still without the injured Ash(Get well soon mate) and with current Skipper Damian unavailable, Alex and Mohsin stepped up to the plate as Captain and Vice-Captain respectively, with the "Mohchine" sporting a moustache that shouts out to be twirled in a "dastardly" manner.
With the important tasks sorted out, such as picking the team and showing up on time - for once - we were ready for a day’s cricket at the BICC ground on the sunny slopes of Montjuic (Affectionately known as the Coca-Cola Arena thanks to a large Advertising board down behind square leg)
Alex won the toss (I think), or he might have lost it, but either way we were put into bat. Sid and Umer both made the short walk to the wicket, and then proceeded to build a solid platform, scoring a hatful of runs in the first four overs. Things were looking good for a strong opening partnership before a mix-up and some interesting calling (yes-No-No-maybe-I’m not sure-Yes-NO!!!) led to Sid being run out while standing next to a slightly abashed looking Umer in the strikers end
(India have a 100% record in World Cup Finals, did you know that?)
This, Umers second runout in as many games (highlights of which can be seen here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQh70VV-RaY#t=46), brought stand-in Skipper Alex to the crease. Alex started slowly; content to let Umer make amends for his earlier mistake. After a couple of overs watching Umer make amends though, Alex obviously decided he wanted in on the action, and proceeded to play some magnificent shots to every corner of the ground, Chris Gayle'ing the ball over Cow corner one minute, playing a textbook cover drive the next. After ten overs the pair had brought the score up to 78/1. Umer survived a couple of LBW appeals and a nasty graze on his elbow before running himself out after scoring 33, with the score on 93 for 1 after 13 overs.
Umer's failure to make his ground using the flat of the bat brought "El Presidente", Rob, to the crease. Rob had, last week, promised a bottle of Cava to the first player to hit a half century this season. Realising that Alex was closing in on that prize, he decided to try and race him to the target, and thereby started to up the run-rate to such an extent that he very nearly won the race, earning the nickname "Boom Boom Rob” from his awestruck colleagues watching on in the stands. As it was, Alex got over the line first, bringing up his half century in style, hitting the ball over long on for a maximum. After a rousing and well deserved standing ovation was provided, Rob followed suit a few balls later, and the action was duly repeated in the stands.
In between both 50's Alex (54) was bowled, bringing Rollo out to face a few (with the deflection off the stumps almost resulting in a face-full of ball for Max, whose youthful agility meant he managed to avoid such a result), and shepherd Rob to his final score of 56 (not sixty-odd Rob, not sixty-odd), before Rob was bowled by the one misbehaving, and last, ball of the innings, which skirted under his bat off a short length. We closed on an extremely competitive 188/4 off our allotted twenty overs.
The visitors reply started off slowly, with openers Mohsin and Sid restricting the batsmen to keep them under the required rate, Sid taking his wicket with a beautifully flighted delivery. Their first three wickets fell quickly, leaving them struggling, and when their main man, Umair, fell for a golden duck, things looked bleak for PSCC.
However, by this stage Tanzeer had arrived at the crease, and he consolidated their innings with a fine knock of 82*, clipping our bowlers over mid wicket for a maximum on more than one occasion, meaning poor old Ted (making a long awaited comeback from a back injury) spent quite a bit of time in the trees down by the Coca Cola board with Ahmad, retrieving the ball.
A slow over rate by PSCC when fielding meant that we were forced to rush through our overs to try and finish the game and bowl out our 20, as we had to vacate the field by 3:30 pm. Our bowlers, however, performed admirably, considering the need to just bowl through their overs as fast as possible, without giving much thought to tactics or variations. Umer distinguished himself again, proving that his style of "Sexy" (thank you Nadim, for that) bowling is better than his ability to call when batting. Sid and Mohsin showed that they are a strong partnership in opening the bowling, and Sai & Rob both did the job in rushed circumstances.
In the end we only managed to bowl 15 of our allotted 20 overs before time ran out, leaving PSCC on 145 for 5, meaning the only result that could be considered was an honourable draw, as the match showcased power hitting, classic shots, tidy bowling, and everything that is good about this game called cricket.
After the match, we retired to our customary seats to dissect the game, have a few bevvies, and listen to Sid tell us, not for the first time that day, that India were in the World Cup T20 Final*. Did you know that, by any chance?
* This report was written up before the T20 WC Final, but was not posted before today due to a delay in receiving the actual scores. Commiserations to Sid and India, well played Sri Lanka.