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Cows win series in finale run fest at the ACG

Cows win series in finale run fest at the ACG

CRICKET: The fifth game decider between the Thalang Cows and Patong Penguins on Sunday (Oct 24) yielded an extraordinary run extravaganza, with three players claiming centuries during the afternoon’s 25-over final at the ACG.

By Neil Quail

Wednesday 27 October 2021, 08:15AM

Ultimately, it was the destructive double-act of Ashan Fonseka and Ali Khan in scoring a combined 249 runs that secured victory for the Cows in a game that racked up an astonishing total of 533 runs from both teams.

After winning the coin toss, Penguins elected to bowl first, allowing Cows’ skipper Joe Ninan and Fonseka into the fray to face the opposition bowling attack.

A loose first ball from Jason Robertson invited Fonseka to open his account with a four, but the Penguins’ pace-man quickly found his rhythm and looked to have bagged Fonseka’s wicket with his fifth delivery as the Sri Lankan batsman skied his shot to deep square-leg. Fortunately for Fonseka, then on a paltry six runs, Saju Abraham was unable to hold his catch, allowing the Cows to breathe the first of a dozen sighs of relief.

Penguins’ disappointment was overturned almost immediately with Imtiyaz Mushtaq coaxing Ninan to drive the fifth ball of the second over, but the Cows’ captain’s miscued shot would only loop into the hands of Aidan Wood confidently catching in the covers.

Batting at three, Sameer Khan’s innings itself would last just three overs before edging a Robertson delivery to Seemant Raju at slip, who needed a second grab before celebrations could begin.

As Ali Khan came to the crease with the score on 31 for 2, Penguins would not see another breakthrough for the next 18 overs, while Fonseka and Khan pebble-dashed the ACG boundary, blasting 250 runs between them in the process.

Indeed, it was an expensive afternoon for the cricket coffers with several balls being lost to the ACG’s surrounding vegetation and waterways during Fonseka’s patchy innings of 113 off 75 (including six 6s and seven 4s), and Khan’s volatile innings of 136 off just 55 (including eighteen 6s and one 4).

Frustratingly for the Penguins, by the time Khan’s wicket fell at the end of the 23rd over thanks to a swift stumping by Damien Westwood expertly deputising for regular wicket-keeper, Anthony Van Blerk, both Cows’ batsmen had been put down a number of times early in their innings, opportunities that would later return to haunt the Penguins considering the valiant attempt eventually made to chase down the Cows’ intimidating total of 296 for 6 after their 25 overs.

Tall order

Following the inning’s break, Penguins’ captain, Curt Livermore, and James Chattaway returned to the middle fully aware that a required run rate of 12 per over, while a tall order, was possible with competent batting available through the team.

A captain’s innings was not to be on this occasion as Cows’ Wasim Mir loosened up with a brace of wides to bring Livermore on strike. Mir’s first legal delivery then lured Livermore into a wayward shot that looked to have arced over Sameer Khan at fly slip, but turning sharply on his heels, Khan quite brilliantly managed to take the catch as the ball descended over his shoulder.

Both Penguins’ openers were back in the clubhouse by the end of the third over, when Chattaway’s innings ended in trying to dispatch Mir through the covers only to be swallowed up by Ali Khan.

Following an impressive stint behind the stumps, Westwood joined Craig Morgan at the crease and by the 7th over the pair had posted a 34-run partnership before Michael Flowers’ second legal delivery of the game beat Westwood’s (11) bat to dismantle his wicket, with the score now on 42 for 3.

As the teams retired for drinks at the end of the 15th over, Penguins were decidedly behind the run rate at 100 for 3, compared with the Cows score of 141 for 2 at their drinks’ break. Behind as they were at this point, it was evident that Morgan had no intention of surrendering the game, while Mushtaq (31) struggled to keep up with his partner’s pace, eventually losing a foot race to Mayur Deuskar being run out in the 17th over.

Deuskar again struck in the 19th over by bowling Raju, bringing Robertson to join his compatriot Morgan at the middle, the latter achieving his century during this same over, partly thanks to some feral fielding by the Cows allowing the Penguin batsmen to incredibly run five off the over’s last ball, much to the amusement of the ACG gallery and for Morgan to celebrate his ton lying prone and breathless on the pitch.

With five overs remaining and the score on 181 for 5, Morgan continued his onslaught, pummelling the Cows’ bowling into the ACG car park, onto the clubhouse roof and elsewhere around the ground using a plethora of powerful orthodox and unorthodox shots, eventually reaching 147 at the end of the 23rd over before being tempted too far forward by a Fonseka cutter for Flowers to stump the fatigued South African. Robertson too had succumbed to Fonseka’s change of pace earlier in the same over to give Mir his maiden catch at the ACG, leaving the Penguins on 217 for 7 with 12 balls left before inning’s end.

Returning after a brief hiatus due health concerns, Van Blerk batting at 8 proved his worth by posting his team’s second highest strike rate recording 14 (not out) off 14, but in the end the Cows were able to claim victory by 58 runs, and an overall 3-2 series win.

Man of the match was awarded to Penguins’ Morgan for his 147 off 64, while pick of the bowlers went to Cows’ Mir for his 2 for 34 off 5 overs.

The recent revival of the Goan Panthers will hopefully lead to the establishment of a new tri-series over the coming weeks, while the ACG is looking forward to a number of incoming domestic tours during November.

For more information on training and matches at the ACG please visit the Phuket Cricket Facebook page.

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