February 10, 2024
Shriram Bhosale won his third toss in a row, but unlike against Pakicare, elected to bat. Imran Fareed and Ash Reynolds opened up and got us off to a flying start, with our best powerplay score in the ECS (55/0 off 3). Their 66-run partnership ended on the last ball of the fourth over as Imran was bowled for a brilliantly made 39 off just 14 balls. This only caused Ash to up the ante and the next over went for 21, the second over to go “magical” (more than 20 runs).
Tom Coulthard found it more difficult to get going and didn’t last long but Ash found a more in-form partner in skipper Shri. Ash passed his 50 off just 17 balls, but was out just a couple of balls later. Captain (20 off 11) was joined by vice-captain James Bentley (18* off 12) at the crease, and the two saw us to our highest ECS score of 147/4. Having missed the last ball, Shriram was run out by the keeper semi-attempting a suicidal run.
With such records behind us, there was confidence going out into the field. Despite an expensive first over, Vishesh Gajjar got the important wicket of their big-hitting captain Waqas off the fifth ball. Imran and Zeeshan Dildar bowled the next two overs, with both conceding a respectable 13 runs. After James’ traditional fourth over, Imran came back and tightened the screw. His over went for just five and ended with the second wicket of the innings. When Zeeshan in the next over also conceded just five runs, whilst also picking up a wicket, we were suddenly well on top and looking the favourites.
Magic ended the 6th over just reaching the halfway point in terms of runs required. Shriram brought himself into the attack next over, and pulled it back despite going for 6 first ball. The next two overs however, were much more costly and ended up costing us the game as Magic plundered an even 50 off them. By the time James came on to bowl the final over, only 11 were needed and they were knocked off in four balls. We were inevitably disappointed to have thrown away a strong winning position, but could at least claim some solace in having claimed a bonus point against one of the best-performing teams of the previous tournament.
With just a 15 minute break in between games, we couldn’t sit licking out wounds for long. Shriram had already won the toss in the innings break, and had again chosen to bat first. Imran and Ash opened up again, with Imran again smoking a quickfire 30 (33 off 10) as we started strong hitting 29 off the first over! Another 16 followed in the second over, although Ash was dismissed of its last ball. From then on, the innings was very up and down.
The third over went for just two, and saw the dismissals of Imran and Tom. Hiro Lalwani was run out in the next as we scored just seven. Amazingly then, having lost a lot of momentum, we scored a mammoth 35 in the 5th with four sixes (and a couple of extras to help). Our number three, Umer Razi, was struggling to find someone to stick with him and his partners kept coming and going. Only Zeeshan got to double figures (10 off 10) off batters 4-11 but thankfully Umer’s brilliant 67 off 23 got us up to 140 all out, with Zeeshan last man out run out off the last ball.
Imran, Zeeshan and Vishesh were again trusted with the powerplay overs but Magic got off to a good start, reaching 52/1 in the three overs, Vishesh getting the opening wicket off the final ball of the third over. At the end of the next over, there was another wicket as both batters ended up at the same end, allowing Ash to calmly whip the bails off from Zeeshan’s throw. There were a couple of very tidy overs from Zeeshan and James, and the game was following a very similar trajectory to the first one. The eighth over went for 23 and Magic were suddenly back in with a sniff. Tom was trusted with the ninth over, having not bowled all tournament and did well to come back from going for six first ball. It meant that Magic needed a not impossible 18 runs off the final over.
Captain Shri stepped up to the plate, having been smashed around the park in the morning. A wicket off the second (legal) ball eased the nerves, although the next ball disappearing over the rope definitely didn’t! 11 off three needed. The new batter couldn’t replicate his first ball shot and two dots followed. With 11 still needed off the final ball, all Shri had to do was keep his foot behind the line, and the ball within them. That he did, and the ball disappearing through the covers did not matter one jott. We broke a 14 (fourteen!) match losing streak and there was relief to be seen all around. It also meant Shri had his first win as full-time captain.
Four points claimed from the day, in two really hard-fought games against a strong opposition. We face Sohal Hospitalet on Saturday, who are still yet to break their own duck in this tournament.
Here’s to more success!
Barcelona International Cricket Club President