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Panthers return from the wilderness

Panthers return from the wilderness

CRICKET: After many months without a match and a sign of Phuket returning to some normality the Goan Panthers returned to the ACG last Sunday (Oct 17).

Cricket
By Michael Flowers

Tuesday 19 October 2021, 02:44PM


Ali Kahn’s innings of 65 not out coupled with his fielding prowess saw him named Man of the Match. Photo: Michael Flowers

Ali Kahn’s innings of 65 not out coupled with his fielding prowess saw him named Man of the Match. Photo: Michael Flowers

Boosted by the inclusion of the usual Thalang Cow pairing of Joe Ninan and Ashan Fonseka, Panthers captain Mayur Deuskar and his Goan Panthers side won the toss and quickly elected to bat first in the mixed friendly against the Phuket Cricket Group’s (PCG) Phuket XI.

PCG’s opening bowler Seemant Raju bowled a tidy first over to Ninan before Manoj Kumar Yadav, unaccustomed to facing the new ball nor the pace of Southerns regular Delano Buchner narrowly survived ball one before gloving one through to the PCG keeper and captain Michael Flowers.

The opening wicket with the Panthers score on 3/1 brought Fonseka out to join Ninan for a very important partnership.

The opening bowlers continued to bowl well although Fonseka upped the run rate taking advantage of the fielding restrictions hitting three 6s and one 4 in the space of three overs.

After Fonseka’s final 6, Raju struck back the very next ball with a slightly slower delivery outside off stump, Fonseka 23 (11) only managed to get an edge to the waiting gloves of Flowers who secured his second catch, sparking jubilant scenes in the middle.

Panthers debutant Avinash Pednekar 0 (4) joined Ninan briefly before Raju struck again with Pednekar wrapped on the pads and adjudged LBW by umpire Neil Quail, Raju’s second wicket of the over concluding a terrific three over spell (2-21).

The Panthers had slumped to 37/3 at the five over change of ends mark as Bahnu Pratap joined Ninan.

Opening bowler Buchner finished his tidy opening spell (3 overs 19-1) as Ninan began consolidating the innings.

The PCGs Imtiyaz Mushtaq was first change of bowling for the 7th over before being joined at the other end by spinner and the current seasons leading wicket taker Saju Abraham for the final over of the power play.

The two bowlers combined well as Ninan and Pratap continued to consolidate before guiding the Panthers to 66/3 after 10 Overs as the fielders’ changed ends for the second time.

Mushtaq picked up his first wicket in the 11th over when Pratap 18 (17) punched one straight to Ali Kahn at mid-off with the score at 71/4.

Surinder Kumar 2 (5) playing for the first time in a long while joined Ninan for eight balls before Ali Kahn at mid-off threw the stumps down at the bowler’s end.

At 76/5 after 12 overs, another debutant Wiqar Aziz joined opening batsman Ninan who must have felt like he was starting to run out of partners.

Aziz played defensively initially but was getting tied down at one end with the field moving in. He began to play a few shots before a mix up with Ninan and some good work from Mushtaq and keeper Flowers had Aziz 5 (22) runout in the 19th over with the score at 102/6.

Panthers Captain Mayur finally came to the wicket at number eight and he and Ninan began to give the innings some impetus.

The pair batted together into the final over and had lifted the score to 157 when a rather charmed yet tired Ninan 53 (67) was finally dismissed in the final over, caught by Mushtaq from the bowling of Buchner.

PKF Thailand

Deuskar, 24 not out (21), and Waseem Mir, 0 not out (1), were left not out as the Panthers set a mediocre total of 159 from their allotted 25 overs.

All of the PCG bowlers bowled well but the openers were the pick of them, both returning figures of 5 overs 33/2. Curt Livermore notably slipped in the extremely economical figures of 5 overs 0/20 in the latter middle stages of the innings.

Delightful form

Chasing 160 to win, James Chataway and Sami Pir were sent to open the innings for the PCG against the opening bowling of Mir.

In the second over Pir 0 (2) was caught by the safe hands of a back peddling Fonseka from the bowling of Pratap.

An in-form Sameer Kahn joined Chataway in the middle with the former finding some delightful form early in his innings.

The two batters made a steady partnership until Chataway’s terrific opening knock was cut short from the bowling of Deuskar by a terrific catch as Pratap made a lot of ground before sprawling forward to make the grab, a catch as good as any witnessed at the ACG in recent years.

It was an innings which pleased temporary Penguins captain Livermore watching on from the clubhouse with Chataway 24 (26) now likely to open the Penguins innings against the Cows next weekend in the Game 5 decider.

The devastating Ali Kahn joined Sameer Kahn in the middle with the score at 42-2 after 7.5 overs.

The two got through to 60/2 at the 10 over ends change, slightly behind where the Panthers had been but with still eight wickets in hand.

Needing to press for a wicket, the extreme pace of Fonseka was the answer as he dismissed Sameer Kahn 16 (28) caught behind by Ninan in the 11th over.

Mushtaq joined Kahn at the wicket, reaching 62/3 after 11 overs leaving the required rate at 7 per over.

Mushtaq played the anchor role rotating strike to Kahn who played with excellent shot selection punishing the balls in his arc occasionally as the pair slowly lowered the required rate to a canter.

The pair ended up combining for a 6th wicket partnership of 98 runs when Mushtaq 31 not out (34) slammed Fonseka down the ground for 6 (his only boundary of the innings) to end the match with PCG winning by 7 wickets with 19 balls remaining.

Ali Kahn’s innings of 65 not out (41) combined with his early catch and run out left no doubt as to who was the deserving man of the match.

This weekend the Penguins and Cows will finally battle out the decider of their 5-match series. The 25 over match will start at midday on Sunday (Oct 24) at the ACG.

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