[door Nagesh Danturti] No one knew how the post-lockdown down-and-under league of 2020 would mean for ACC-3. Over the last few years of our existence, we had adequately cleansed our souls - so evident from a fresh 4-LBW win against VCC just 2 weeks ago and a clean last-over win against VRA. This year all we had to do was to sanitize our hands. Freshly re-grouped with some new faces and under the same but much reformed leadership that believes in team collaboration over one-man shows, ACC-3 has finally come of age.
Kampong has always been a professional and a friendly team - its a joy to play such an opponent, regardless of the outcome. Its also good to see that Kampong-3 came with a well-integrated team of locals, natives and expats who couldn’t wait to get on the field. The 2nd field was sufficiently prepared to make it a high-scoring game with lots of runs on it. Thick grass on the outfield meant ball would not travel far, unless forced. The curator earlier predicted a high-scoring match, but forgot to comment if there was enough for the bowlers.
With all the local knowledge and history at the back of our minds, we lost the toss but still managed to bat first. There is a deeper psychological analysis at the end of the section* that explains the underlying gameplan. Since Kampong asked us to bat first, we assumed they were strong on bowling. After 4 wides, 2 appeals and 1 wicket in the 2nd over, our assumption was confirmed. Not only were their bowlers fast but were also wayward wind-surfers. Kampong’s Pink Dukes swung so prodigiously that we could not get our first runs off the bat until the 7th over. They offerred us Wides, No-Balls, Byes, Leg-Byes and Gurlabh and Cousin Baljot were happy to take them. However, between the 10th and the 23rd over, the Singh brothers not only stitched a partnership of 120 runs, but also firmly established the Singh Unity Foundation in ACC. Gurlabh, usually the more aggressive of the two, missed his half-century by 7 runs, but the younger Baljot scored his flawless 50. A delightful six from Bobby started our next wave of run-making as Sahil (our batsman-keeper) made batting look easy with his quick fire 25. With a boundary here and there and Manan’s belligerent tonking and the Skipper’s selfless running got us to at least 30 more than where we wanted to be (and the par score at this ground) - 237.
Playing with ACC 3, you are almost always guaranteed a drama of sorts (just like the last 3 games including the last-ball loss against ACC-2). Kampong went into lunch staring at 238 runs to stage a big upset. Somehow, Jose - our club-caterer - knew exactly what the contents of the lunch should be - a high-carb and a high-sugar meal. A single-serving of the Pasta was just about enough not to put us to sleep.
Now what happened after lunch was a display of high-octane bowling from the unlikeliest of bowlers. Mudi - our skipper channelling his new-found inner-nirvana in grooming young and fresh talent to ACC introduced the 3rd Singh Brother of the Singh Unity Foundation - Juval Singh. Who learns faster than he bowls. In the hindsight, a lot of people did not realize during the match that his contribution was so vital. Although he only bowled 5 wickeless overs, but more importantly he caused a tiny-distraction in the minds of the batsmen who were made to falsely believe that if they stay 40 overs they could win the match. This was the exact-ideal mindset that the Bowler #2 was going to exploit. There is nothing much to talk about the old-fart Nagesh - who is as reliable as the rain in the Netherlands, when it comes to these situations. So, the Rainman bought heaps of rain down in the next 5 overs and walked away with a wicket each over he bowled. The wickets rained on one end in a very predictable pattern (a wicket fell in 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, and 10th over). When the “Rain” stopped - Kampong woke-up with 5 wickets down and began collecting the debris and destruction left behind by the “Rain”. There was a brief recovery from Kampong but brilliant fielding resulted in 2 quick run-outs. Manan, our usual go-to opening bowler chipped in with useful wickets towards the end.
Although, the end was predicted as far back as lunch but the finishing touches could not have been more appropriate. It was clinical from the bowlers. During the initial storm of wickets when Kampong were trying hard to stay dry - there were few moments, such as between the 2nd and 4th over, when ACC-3 fielders briefly became Al Fresco gymnasts - Bobby fielding at the Fly-slip Gully region took two flash-reflex catches that would’ve normally been dismissed as “Bowler’s bad luck” - but not today - Bobby did not want to let anything slip from his hands, even when one popped out he effectively spooned it to the 2nd Slip who would complete the catch. Brilliant reflexes from Bobby and Manan - top-of-the-line cricket at its best. Sahil (our keeper) - Diving Full-Stretch to catch a flying-edge off the bat was equally stunning and unreal.
At the end, It was not that we got home by 100 runs to spare, but those 20 minutes of incessant “Rain” where we suddenly seemed to have grown younger but matured twice our ages.
Hope the rain persists.
*(Continue reading for an off-beat Satirical take on the above episode)
Skippers guide on winning on the ACC 2nd field during Covid-19
(last edited for gender equality)
(formerly published as - Satirical Highlights of the Down and under Lockdown-League of 2020)
- Begin by losing the toss and convince the opponents that bowling first is the best thing they have done in the post-lockdown summer after sex. BTW: Use a 1-euro coin - scientifically un-proven yet why the loss percentage is much higher than a 2-euro coin. Also before you toss, remember to fill the opponents ears that the par score on the ground is around 230. They will not believe you.
- Ask the opponents to bring their own scorer - keeps things clean, colorful and relieves one of your players to do better things, such as: counting pigeons and airplanes, squeezing the sanitizer every 5 mins.
- If you ticked the above 4 boxes, then please do not score off the bat until the 7th over. It gives the opponents a premature false sense of victory.
- As you are ticking the boxes above, you should see a smile on your face as the gameplan is beginning to take shape.
- Now, you need your top opening pair to register their first Zero-Run partnership. It could come in any way you like - For example: the opener losing his offstump. Remember, the offstump should not fly off more than 2 meters, it should just tickle the bails off - that’s enough. Otherwise, you can stop reading any further.
- Next, your under-rated Nr. 3 and in supreme top-form Nr. 1 must do the bulk of the scoring - something like a 100-run partnership will just about do.
- The Nr. 1 must get out playing a visibly tired shot, preferably looping a catch to the short cover.
- Now is the time to relax your premier umpires because the fast bowlers have now either stopped appealing or bowling on the legs.
- Ensure that at least one of the next 3 batsmen smacks a 6 between cowcorner and long-on. It could also come between the cow-corner and the mid-wicket depending on the mood and length of the batsman.
- You need a lower-middle-order collapse and make sure your lower-lowerorder look clumsy in their batting.
- Finally, manage to get your score to about 30 more than 200 in about 40 overs. Importantly, ensure that your last batsman runs himself/herself out on the last ball (induces a false sense of desperation into the opponents minds)
- Then feed everyone a single-serving high-carb-high-sugar meal. Keep a mental note of anyone taking a second-serving. Remember, we are all building up to a wily-strategy
- Now, lazily get back on the field and visibly show your patriotism with pep-talks preferably by not more than 2 leaders. Clap and disperse to various parts of the field.
- Your new-ball opening pair should not look threatning at all and always open with a high-potential new-comer rookie. All a part of the plan.
- Now comes the most interesting part of the gameplan - the 2nd over should be bowled by someone who looks like he could retire from Cricket any moment and should be visibly graying and aging very fast - around 50 years and counting. This person should normally represent your last-hope candidate.
- Unleash this old-dog at the opponents while announcing loudly the mysterious brilliance.
- If you have read this far and checked all the boxes above, then congratulate yourself, sit back and enjoy the mayhem that the young-old opening bowling pair brings on the opponents.
- If the gameplan goes exactly as planned, you should see a wicket falling every alternate over - so, 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th and 10th respectively. At this point, the opponent should be 5 wickets down and richer by 22 wides, according to my calculations.
- The damage is now permanent. You have successfully wounded the opponent. You are executing the strategy very well.
- Next part of the strategy is equally important - make the opponents believe by giving them a tiny sliver of hope - give them about 20 more extras in 5 overs - for example: about 4 wides each bowler each over should be enough.
- The lower-order batsmen will now feel that they have a point-to-prove through a scratchy 20-run partnership that would appear like a 100-run partnership under the circumstances. You will greatly help their careers (at least for some time).
- Be graceful as wickets tumble and applaud all lower-order batsman for their batting - For example: clap towards the batsman and say something like “Nice Forward Defence” & “Good leave” etc.
- If you have reached this far, then you have either won the game or about to.
- Lastly, do not shake hands with opponents and let your aging 5-wicket performer to walk in front flashing his Pink Ball, possibly for one last time in the Covid-19.