Saturday Cricket Club Blog

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A facile victory... finally!

After a couple of hard fought wins, it was time Saturday CC upped their intensity and won a game comfortably to start off the 2nd round of TCA Open 2008. The match against Kasturi Pade presented this opportunity and Saturday CC made most of it.

Kasturi Pade won the toss and put Saturday CC in.

On a wet and heavy outfield it was not easy scoring runs. To add to that, KP bowlers bowled 2 consecutive maidens to start the proceedings. Naresh and Viral opened the innings for Sat CC. Naresh was dismissed on the very first ball he faced. Shiv joined Viral in the middle. Viral hit a cracking lofted off-driven boundary to break the shackles in the 3rd over and Saturday CC never looked back. Shiv, first with Viral and then with Hardik and Satish stitched very useful partnerships. Shiv finished with a man-of-the-match winning 31 runs. Hardik, Viral, Satish and Gyanesh pitched in with useful contributions.

In this tournament, Shiv has been like a rock. He is the one that holds our batting together playing calmly, taking what the bowler gives yet at the same time putting the bad balls away. And it looks like he is yet to peak which is a good sign for our batting. His innings today was mixed with those short jabs, drives and nudges to get some singles interspersed with some big pulls and cuts. It was a treat to watch him play today. Great job Shiv, keep it up.

We ended up scoring 5 to 10 runs fewer than what we should have – thanks to a spate of run-outs in the slog overs and some decent bowling by KP.

Saturday CC made 87 for 9 in 20 overs.

Ananta and Gyanesh opened the bowling for Saturday CC and both struck in their respective first overs. Ananta produced a miserly spell of 4-0-6-1 while Gyanesh who was superb too with his line as well as length, was unlucky not to pickup more wickets as Saturday CC fielders dropped quite a few catches off his bowling. After the first 8 overs, Jayanth, Mahesh and Abhay teamed together to get the rest of the KP wickets. Mahesh and Jayanth were especially deadly picking up 4 and 2 wickets respectively. What especially will be etched in memory is Mahesh’s superb slow ball that clean bowled a KP batsman as he swung through an hour too soon.

KP were bowled out for 52 in 18.4 overs.

A good easy win but the margin of victory could have been bigger if we had scored more at the death while batting and/or held all the catches that came our way. I think we ended up dropping 5 catches.

We next play against Friends CC and I consider this a “banana skin” game not only because of the opposition but also because of the ground (Starbird Park) which appears to be a low-scoring Gill Park type ground. We are very close to qualifying for the round of 16. But we need to make sure we do not slip in the next game.

Let’s go SatCC!


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Kedar blitzkrieg leads to facile victory over Panthers

Saturday CC went into the game against Panthers after 3 consecutive losses. Inconsistent batting and at times poor bowling and fielding had let the team down in those games. However, the team morale was high. The team was cheerful prior to the start of the game and the dugout chirpy.

Panthers won toss and inexplicably put us in perhaps not wanting to field in the second innings when it was going to get very hot. In the absence of Ananth, Kedar was asked to open with Nadeem. The ground looked high-scoring and 90+ was considered par for the course. However, it was a hot day and everyone urged everyone else to conserve their energies. Ashish and Shiv did a yeoman’s job by purchasing additional water and Gatorade.

As the match started, Kedar lofted one over mid-on on the last ball of the first over for a couple – signaling his intentions early. Nadeem gave him nice company getting the occasional 2’s and 3’s sometimes aided by some poor fielding by the Panthers. Score had progressed to 25 in 6 overs when Nadeem got out – caught backing up too far on a direct hit from short mid-off. He scored 12 off 19 deliveries. This start provided the platform for the rest of the batting.

Naresh joined Kedar and continued building up. Taking the occasional extra base hits until the 9th over when it started raining 4s and 6s. Manohar had bowled a tidy line so far. But he gave Kedar one in the slot and was quickly put away over mid-wicket for a one-bounce 4. Anticipating Kedar’s intentions he dropped one short. But Kedar was more than up to the task – rocking back to pull him over deep backward square leg for a huge six. There was a fielder positioned there. But he was left watching the majestic trajectory of the ball sailing way over him. In the dugout we were – “dancing in the aisles” as some well known TV commentator would put it.

On the stroke of the break though Naresh was surprised with a ball that climbed on him, hit the handle of the bat on the way to short mid-wicket. It was sort of an action replay of the Rahul Dravid dismissal from the Kanpur test (

There were no Morkel’s or Steyn’s in the Panthers line-up however. And that uneven bounce turned out to be an aberration. Praveen joined Kedar after the break and quickly set about making the most of the opportunity. Next 2 overs fetched 16 runs with both Praveen and Kedar running hard between the wickets and in part aided by poor fielding by the Panthers. Praveen played a couple of nice lofted drives in the vacant mid-wicket area. There were a couple of dropped catches in this period. Kedar made Panthers realize those blunders by hitting Manish over widish mid-on for huge six. By now, Kedar was approaching his 50 and everyone in the dugout was counting his every run. A boundary off Raghav bought him closer. On the other end – Praveen got a rough dismissal when he was adjudged stumped off Manish. Mahesh was promoted up the order and he too looked good in the middle until he tried to hit them too hard. Kedar completed his 50 in great style late-cutting Ajay behind point. Shortly after completing his fifty Kedar departed caught by Viresh off Raghav. While getting his 50 he was involved in partnerships of 25, 27, 21 and 20 with Nadeem, Naresh, Praveen and Mahesh respectively. We were privileged to see a gem of an innings. It not only put Sat CC firmly on course to beating Panthers but also exorcised the demons in the heads of Sat CC batting line-up.

Jayanth hit a couple of crisp boundaries on the off (a backfoot cover drive/punch through cover and another lofted extra cover drive) and ran hard with Ashish to put the icing on the cake. Saturday CC finished with 124 for 7 (yours truly was out without facing a ball as he took on the mid-off fielder).

125 on this pitch was not totally out of reach. Praveen and Kedar opened the bowling for Saturday CC. Panthers seemed to be keen to get on with the game batting aggressively from the word go. A couple of lofted shots landed between Abhay and Viral (mid-on and mid-wicket). Praveen persisted with his good line though and got his just reward when Kedar took a sharp catch at long-off. Kedar followed up with a wicket of his own when he made Ajay pop one up for a simple catch for Ashish at point.

Panthers were 18 for 2 in 4 overs.

Gyanesh and Mahesh took the baton from Kedar and Praveen and bowled 6 overs of disciplined bowling. Gyanesh in particular bowled really well not conceding any runs even though the Panthers looked to attack. Sat CC fielding was improving as well and Naresh took a beauty off Mahesh diving full length to his right to pouch a full blooded pull near the square leg umpire. The batsman was stunned with that catch and would have considered himself unlucky. After all, how many times do you see such catches in the TCA. Buoyed by the wickets Sat CC bowlers had their tail up. At the break Panthers were 37 for 5. They needed 88 in 10 overs a task that was quickly getting out of their reach.

Ashish and Jayanth bowled some tidy overs and made sure the required run rate kept on climbing. Jayanth got the dangerous looking Raghav to spoon a catch to Shiv while Ashish got Yella who had started to use the long handle. Abhay conceded 9 off his first over but quickly regained his composure to concede 6 off his next two. After the 17th over, Panthers gave up the idea of trying to win and instead were trying to get themselves a bonus point. Saturday CC had the opportunity to get another bonus point. But the team was not keen to make sure they got it. This may prove costly in our quest of reaching the quarter finals of the TCA league.

Panthers labored to 90 for 9 in the allotted 20 overs. Gyanesh (3-0-7-0), Mahesh (4-0-16-2), Kedar (2-0-8-1), Praveen (2-0-10-1) and Jayanth (3 wickets for 22) all bowled very well. The fielding was also good considering that it was not easy to field on the off side (especially at long off).

We all will remember this game for Kedar’s innings though. I have seen quite a few of them over the last few years and looking at the way Kedar batted this time I am sure we will see a few more this season.

Good work Sat CC. Now lets try to win the next two to keep ourselves in contention by winning the next two games.

P.S. A special note of thanks to Vivek who did a yeoman's job by bringing drinks to all the fielders throughout the Panthers innings. It was a very hot day and Vivek made sure that the team stayed hydrated and focussed on the job at hand. Great job Vivek! You have shown the way and it is for others to make this a Sat CC tradition.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Thrilling Win Against Kasturi Pade ...

Excitement, Passion, Spirit that's what SatCC's cricket is all about. Accepting a defeat and relishing a nice victory are a part and parcel of this great game that we all enjoy. What happened on 15 Mar was a resounding testament of the same.

California weather is back and I can not admire it enough. Picturesque background of mountains, lush green outfield of the Gill Park, cloudless azure skies and the Sun, a nice brigade of good men who enjoy playing cricket and playing it hard, Saturday mornings, Oh, it can't get better than this. And what makes it more interesting is the way SatCC pours the unforgettable excitement to the mix. Isn't life lived king size with all of this?

It was a crucial game since SatCC had lost the season opener rather poorly and Kasturi Pade is a respected team in the TCA league. A match against Kasturi Pade (KP) is always a close encounter and some of you might remember how closely SatCC won the last encounter against them, last year. This year, it was almost a Deja Vu as you'll soon find out ...

Nadeem lost the toss and was put in to field by KP. The Gill Park pitch is more predictable than some other venues and has got support for both batsmen and bowlers. I now think that this park has transformed itself into the Dunford-I ground where scoring a high score is always a challenge and 65 in 20 can be defended easily, with a decent bowling attack. Here, KP batsmen started on a cautious note. Bowling with the "furry" ball is a challenge and Kedar and Satish felt that while bowling to a tidy line. Satish was especially very effective and he got two wickets in his first over, one being caught nicely by Abhay at mid-on and other dragging one onto his stumps. Ashish could get into rhythm, but since Nadeem had several choices today, Imran was brought into attack in the sixth over and Oh Boy! he bowled a heck of a line/length and pace. There is something unique about this bowler. Accuracy of line, tidy run-up, nice and clean action, ability to bowl quick balls in succession makes him as lethal as he is. He grabbed two in his first two overs and soon KP were 16 for 4. Jayanth too bowled a good line although he bowled at a lower pace and bounce than usually is the case. Nadeem and Ashish were as agile as ever, Ashish holding on to a difficult chance with a slide and Nadeem grabbing Nitin on a foolish run-off-a-misfield attempt. At the break, it was 24 for 4 and the first session was eventful for SatCC. Abhay made a candid remark saying we should concede another 24 runs in next 10 overs and everyone said it was up to him as he remains SatCC's number 11 (i.e. the bowler who bowls 11th over of the innings). Mahesh and Abhay bowled well and although they were effective, KP batsmen were able to pick up a few singles. Especially, Srikara played a good knock of 22(30). Imran came back and finished the tail off with some fantastic bowling (should I say reverse swing?) and quick pick-up and throw during the follow-through. The bowling analysis for Imran read
4-0-8-4. This is quite remarkable.

In spite all of this, I thought KP managed to get a good total of 60 in 19.3 overs.

To tell you the truth, it is tricky to chase this kind of score on Gill Park.

Nadeem and Ananth started rather cautiously. Ananth is known for playing his shots, the one that he hits straight over the bowler's head being one of them. He did hit one of those, but was caught rather nicely at mid-off while trying a similar one. That brought Viral to the crease and he looked confident right from the start. The majestic pull shots and elegant drives started flowing off his bat. The footwork looked perfect. On the other side, Nadeem had slowed down a bit and was really choked in the over he got out. Somehow, he was not picking the length of the deliveries today and after having played four dot balls, fell to the one just-out-side-the-off.

Kedar joined hands with Viral and the two had a good partnership of 19 runs for the third wicket. At the break SatCC were 24 for 2 which means, KP were successful in the third quarter of the match. 37 in 10 with 8 wickets in hand. Looks simple. But it rarely is.

Viral was the next one to go as both Kedar and Viral misjudged the second run which was there. "Running between the wickets is a delicate skill that top-order batsmen ought to master" -- someone has said. I think SatCC has to include this generally ignored but vital part of batsmanship in their practice sessions. That was a sad end to an otherwise impeccable innings. Viral played brilliantly for his 16 off 27. Some may think the Vintage Viral is back, but I think he was always there, falling cheaply when he did not score.

Ashish was a little uncomfortable and ended ballooning one to square-leg.

Kedar had to now consolidate the innings and score some runs as he was well set. But while running a run he fell and that unintentional thing made him lose his concentration. The next ball on middle and off was rather full and he played all over it. The result - a familiar falling-short on Kedar's part. I think everyone understands how hard it is -- what Gavaskar once said, "Don't leave it for the next batsman". After having scored 14 off 23, Kedar once again failed to score!

Imran was the next batsman and SatCC were rather confident about his batting. But the disaster struck and to his surprise, he was bowled around the legs! It was quite unbelievable. Imran was so upset with him and was finding it too hard to get over the fact that he was out in a quite mediocre way.

Jayanth on the other hand (and end :)), was playing a steady innings under pressure. His innings reminded me of Sir Richard Hadlee. Hard hit straight drives, man I loved watching those. Satish played a cameo but a nasty attempt (to run a run that was not there) ran him out. I term this as a "Harakiri Run".

This landed SatCC in an ironically familiar situation. It has been happening rather too many times. 46 for 6 in 16 overs. 49 for 7 in 17 overs. 3 overs and 12 runs. 3 wickets in hand. Anyone familiar with cricket-with-cricket ball would argue that this is easily "gettable" equation. But therein lies the uncertainty of tennis ball cricket. Both Jayanth and Abhay played sensibly and that was the most remarkable part of SatCC run-chase. Nudging the ball, playing the straight drives and running well and hard got us to the culmination - 4 runs in the last over. 2 singles of the first two balls. Abhay waiting patiently for the bad ball. He got one. Short and on the middle. The next moment we saw that outside the mid-wicket boundary, which fetches only a couple on Gill Park :). That's it. A fantastic win. Mr. Cool's - Abhay and Jayanth winning it for SatCC.

Several things to remember and cherish and learn from this game of cricket.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

League 2008 Schedule ...

Here is the schedule in plain HTML:
  • We are in group A with few others: Catalysters, Spanglers, Kasturi Pade, Thunderbolts, Panthers, SJSU Knights, Murdock CC, SE 11
The schedule/result is/was as follows (Date, Opponent, Result, Points, Cumulative Points):
  1. Sat 01 Mar, Thunderbolts, Loss, 0, 0
  2. Sat 08 Mar, Kasturi Pade, Win, 16,16
  3. 15 Mar -- SCC Umpiring Weekend
  4. Sat 22 Mar, SE 11, Loss, 0,16
  5. Sat 29 Mar, Spanglers, 0, 16
  6. Sat 05 Apr, SJSU Knights, 0, 16
  7. Sat 12 Apr, Panthers, 16, 32
  8. Sat 19 Apr, Murdock CC, --, --
  9. Sat 26 Apr, Catalysters, --, --
  10. 03 May -- SCC Umpiring Weekend

Friday, February 29, 2008

The 2008 season starts ...

All right. We are just back from the beautifully flood-lit Gill Park. It was a nice experience. We have some young and new players and they all look very promising. I am looking forward to a memorable season.

SCC take on Thunderbolts in the TCA league matches that start tomorrow. I can't wait!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

2007 Knock-out starts ...

Yes, the match no. 1 has been won by
SCC. Here is the team that did it.

Abhay was impeccable with his lethal deliveries. It's such a joy to see him bowl with that vintage look and feel!

Brief scores:

United CC - 30/10 in 14 overs.
Sat CC - 34/2 in 8 odd overs.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Nothing is as sweet as a win in a must-win situation ...

Folks, hold your breath. What you are going to read is a testimony of why people say Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties. Before I take you through the amazing roller-coaster, I must narrate the constraints of the game. SCC were playing their last regular league game and it was a decider as far as their league endeavor was concerned, their regular players (and bowlers) were unavailable en masse as SJSU exams are nearing, there were few injuries here and there and they had already lost 2 games and in other 2, the points were split, the opponents (Kasturi Pade, KP) had not lost a single match and as such, things were getting tough.

Viral won the toss and elected to field first on a day with overcast conditions. Bowlers stuck to a tidy line and were rewarded for keeping the batsmen quiet. Ashish who opened the bowling with Kedar got into nice rhythm and bowled a great nice a bit outside the off. The discipline paid off and soon KP lost their first wicket by an accurate throw from Nadeem running the hustling batsman out. It was a great start. Ashish had conceded just 3 runs in his first two overs and bowled a batsman (played him on). Naresh was the first change and he too quickly got his line giving no room for batsmen to play. Divya was too eager to improve the run-rate and edged a rising delivery outside the off and Shiv one-handed a great catch.

This was a crucial stage. Actually, the 10th over saw a brilliant display of tactical spin bowling by Mayank and a great bit of captaincy by Viral. With his front-line bowlers missing, Viral made a nice move of introducing Mayank who made KP's woes worse. Unless you have a great eye and selection, it's not possible to hit Mayank cleanly.

At the end of first ten, KP were 19/3 and the first session belonged to SCC. That's the thing. Even if first 3 sessions in a 20-over game belong to a team and not the 4th, it loses the game. So, SCC players had to focus really hard. Abhay started off well with those speedy delivering angling across the right handed batsmen. It was so nice to watch those being bowled consistently, frustrating the batsmen as they left them. Soon KP were under pressure to get the score-board ticking and they lost their wickets at regular intervals. Vijay was the only danger man left somehow holding back against Mayank. But Mayank got the better of him when he ended the 16th over with a simple catch at deep mid-wicket. It was 39/7 in 16 overs. Last 4 overs too kept batsmen away from big hitting and since Abhay bowled a great line and length, they could finally reach a modest 51/10 in 20 overs.

This is a tricky score. It gives the bowlers something to defend and if the chasing team is too defensive, the situation can quickly get out of the hands. That's partially what was in store for SCC as the game commenced with Sun getting out of the cloud cover. Both Nadeem and Mayank looked good with their usual thrust on the front foot, on a pitch where mysteriously the ball keeps low and beats the batsmen. Nadeem was thus the first to fall and Viral soon followed on a similar delivery. Mayank missed a simple full toss and played it on the stumps. SCC were under pressure too with 15 for 3. Naresh and Kedar then had to steady the ship and played sensibly for a partnership of 16 runs and plugged further damage till the break.

The game was nicely poised. An onlooker who does not understand Cricket enough would have thought that it is favoring the SCC, with 7 wickets in hand and (only) 25 runs to get in 10 overs.

Distaster struck. Kedar skied one high which Vijay held well, Naresh was wrongly adjudged clean-bowled and Prasanna played one across getting yorked in the process and suddenly it was 31/6 from 31/3 in the same over! It seemed as if the usual story of losing the most crucial quarter of the entire match is going to repeat itself. This has been the hall mark of SCC matches this season. Too much of tension, sensation and excitement. I am loving it as long as they won those :).

Ashish and Shiv labored and took the score to 38 when Ashish was stumped in a situation that should have been ruled in his favor. Abhay then followed and Boy! he looked determined. His temperament looked solid. Shiv on the other hand was playing well and these two demonstrated how a chase should be performed under pressure with 3 wickets in hand. Although there are places where SCC batsmen should improve their skills to steal scoring opportunities because that matters against good teams, it goes without saying that it is not easy to keep your cool in extremely demanding situations. That's what Abhay did. He released the pressure well, ran well between the wickets and this neat innings culminated in a great boundary running down-the-track. That tied the game as the equation changed from 8 in 3 overs to 1 in 2 overs, with 3 wickets in hand. That's when Shiv got out cheaply and Neeraj ran himself out with all players inside the circle. Man, I can't believe it. 51/7 to 51/9? No, not another tie. All prayed. The finish had to be nail-biting. But then again, Abhay was standstill and hit one out to long-off and won it for SCC.

Kudos to Abhay. 10 runs not-out and 4-1-5-2 -- what a performance!

Hopefully, this should see SCC through to Quarter Finals. That should be rewarding. Lot to be learned still though.

One thing I learned that it is futile to critique anyone's batting and batting is easier said than done even on subcontinental pitches!