Underwhelming performances with the bat from both teams registered a total of only seven players that reached double figures, while only one innings – that of Cows’ Sameer Khan – managing to exceed 30 runs, leading to one of the lowest scoring limited over games recently played out at the ACG.
The low score was made more surprising by the fact a well-shorn and arid outfield suggested ideal batting conditions. But a return to using the red ball swung the game in favour of the better bowling side, albeit with 13 catches dropped during the match.
Cows’ captain Joe Ninan struck first blood in winning the coin toss and elected to bat sending Sami Pir and Stuart Hamilton out to open the Cows’ innings.
Taking the new ball, Imtiyaz Mushtaq set the tempo in beating the bat several times, with a nervy four runs coming off the over. And Cows’ edgy start continued in the second over when Hamilton skied a delivery from Seemant Raju for wicket keeper, Anthony Van Blerk to race round to cover before diving and catching, only to see the ball bobble from his gloves as he hit the deck.
Raju was not to be deprived of a wicket and with his very next ball, enticed Pir to hit out and find Mushtaq perfectly positioned at mid-off for the catch. Mushtaq’s second over almost resulted in a maiden, save one wide, before Raju’s bowling again effected another catch, this time finding Sajal Gaur at mid-on whose second grab at the ball secured the wicket of Michael Thomas.
At 8 for 2 after just four overs, Cows were in some disarray bringing Ninan to the crease and soon more controversy for the Cows’ captain.
After another economic over from Mushtaq, Raju’s third over again saw Hamilton put down before an energetic and assured appeal for caught behind in Raju’s fourth over was denied by umpire Neil Quail while Penguins also queried Ninan’s refusal to walk – all seemingly certain of an edge.
Sportingly, Penguins quickly put the issue to rest and in the 10th over would have felt some justice served when captain Curt Livermore had Hamilton (18) caught at deep mid-on by Manish Sadaranghani, while his very next delivery clipped the edge of Ninan’s (24) bat for Van Blerk to take behind the stumps, proving a doubtless dismissal on this occasion and the end to a 44-run partnership for the Cows’ pair.
Having scrambled to 53 for 4 after 10 overs, Cows’ Ali Khan exploded onto the scene with a first ball six, but Livermore’s second over nipped Khan’s potency in the bud in having him caught on the boundary by Craig Morgan, inviting Michael Flowers to partner Sameer Khan for the next 10 overs.
A defiant 74-run partnership between Khan (37) and Flowers eventually concluded in the 22nd over when Mushtaq’s bowling reaped a deserved reward, cartwheeling Khan’s stumps, and the score now reading 139 for 6.
The brothers’ Sadaranghani then combined with spin bowler Saju Abraham for back-to-back dismissals when first Rishi took a nonchalant, one-handed catch on the run to return Bhanu Pratap, and then a catch by Manish immediately after stemming any further impact from Flowers (25), with only a single run being added to the score since Khan’s departure.
Wasim Mir’s brief showing served only to give Mushtaq and Gaur each a brace of wickets and catches respectively, before Abraham claimed his third wicket thanks to a catch by Raju to dismiss Mayur Deuskar, bringing the Cows’ innings to a close on 145 all out in the 25th over.
Given opening duties, Phuket cricket stalwarts, Van Blerk and Raju began Penguins’ chase, but both were taking early showers by the end of the fourth over with Van Blerk holing out to Ninan off Mir’s pace bowling and then Raju picking out Pir off a Guddu Manoj delivery, and the score now 19 for 2.
The inning’s fifth over saw Mir claim a rare wicket maiden in dismissing Manish LBW, bringing Mushtaq in to partner Morgan. Expectation would have been high for the duo given recent performances, but hope was short-lived with Mushtaq’s dismissal in the 10th over ending a 25-run partnership and heralding a disastrous mid-order collapse.
Pir first found the edge of Mushtaq’s bat for wicket keeper, Richard Clarke to catch, giving the bowler a wicket maiden, and within four overs three more wickets would fall for a paltry 15 runs, when Pir bowled Adam Drew, then Deuskar bowled Rishi, before Sameer Khan bowled Morgan (28), taking the Penguins’ score to a troubling 65 for 7 after 14 overs.
Requiring 79 runs from the remaining 10 overs, Livermore and Gaur (11) dug in valiantly for five overs, indeed carving out the best Penguins’ partnership of 28 runs until Flowers uprooted Gaur’s stumps in the 20th over.
Sadly for the game, it was during this period of play that Cows’ players took issue with a number of their bowlers being warned and eventually penalised for illegal deliveries based on bowling action. Fortunately for the Cows, no more was made of the matter other than a dressing down for ill-discipline on the pitch from umpire Quail.
Another 25-run partnership ensued, this time between Livermore (28) and Abraham, boosting the total up to 118 before the former was caught by Flowers off a Pratap delivery in the 25th over. This brought out 13-year-old Masa Clarke for his maiden innings, with the youngster acquitting himself very competently in his first senior cricket match to return on 1 not out on top of a fine effort in the field.
Clarke’s single was the final addition to the total, leaving the Penguins on 119 for 9 after 25 overs, giving a 26-run victory to the Cows and levelling the series at 1-1.
Man of the match was awarded to Pir for his 2 for 10 off 4 overs, including a wicket maiden. Other notable bowling performances went to Abraham for his 3 for 12 off 13 deliveries, and Livermore for his 3 for 29 off 5 overs and 28 runs with the bat.
The third game of the series is scheduled for a 12 noon start this coming Sunday (Aug 15) at the ACG.