Having suffered at the destructive hands of Prakash Jha’s batting, compounded by a less than convincing fielding display in their first encounter, Patong were in no doubt that an all-round improvement in performance would be required to level the series.
Deciding on a change in format from last week’s T20 to a 25 over match, and Patong’s captain subsequently winning the toss, Seemant Raju elected to bat first in order to exploit the extra overs in hope of posting a sizeable total for ICC to chase.
Continuing his role as Patong’s mainstay opener, Michael Flowers was joined by Alex Runhaar to begin proceedings as both batsmen looked to spend productive time at the crease.
By the fifth over and with the score on 31, Manish Sadarangani’s bowling tempted Flowers (12) into a shot that found the hands of Balesh Dessai, sending the Kiwi back to the clubhouse and bringing Matthew Kohler to the crease.
The slimmed-down Kohler took no time in settling down to his usual no-holds-barred style of play blasting a six from only his second ball faced, while Runhaar’s (20) efforts helped bring the score to 41 by the seventh over before Sadarangani found a way past Runhaar’s bat to disturb the South African’s stumps.
In the very next over, Kohler (12) let loose on a delivery from Jha that on most occasions would have been rewarded with a six, but a larger than usual boundary for this game allowed Paresh Borkar to take a fine catch just inside the fence, ending the South African’s innings with Patong’s score on 56.
Heading into the drinks’ break, Neil Quail and Sajal Gaur had tentatively brought the score to three for 67, hoping to regroup and stem the recent flow of wickets.
Seemingly, any strategy discussed among the Patong players was quickly forgotten with Gaur (3) bowled by Ravi Mehra on the very first ball after resuming play, followed almost immediately by Quail (4) trying to capitalise on a Mehra full toss, but easily caught by Jha at mid-wicket.
Pressure now fell squarely on both Anthony Van Blerk and skipper Raju for a captain’s innings with an accommodating 11 overs and five wickets in hand. And while Van Blerk offered a measure of resistance scoring 26 off 29 balls, Patong collapsed to meagre total of 100 runs, four overs short of the allotted 25, and only seven of those runs being added for the fall of the last three wickets.
As a result of Patong’s feeble batting exhibition, ICC can boast enviable bowling figures with Vijay claiming three wickets for four runs off his three overs, while Jha impressed with a single over, and a wicket-maiden.
Needing only four runs per over, Patong had to fire on all cylinders with the ball if ICC were to be contained, and a rousing Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday inspired speech from Van Blerk before taking to the pitch seemed to have motivated a vociferous Patong side as they found their fielding positions. Unfortunately, the first ball delivered by Shivam Bhattacharya landed short of a length and Ravi Naik clubbed a leg-side boundary for four runs, with two more boundaries added by the unforgiving batsman by the over’s end.
A breakthrough finally came in the fourth over with the dismissal of Sarvesh Kandolkar (9) and the score on 26, when Kohler reached high to take a catch on the extended boundary, perhaps justice for his own earlier dismissal.
Dessai was next to the crease, and with Naik they eased to a 44-run partnership before Dessai edged a delivery from Kohler, allowing wicket-keeper, Van Blerk, to take the catch, making amends for two earlier uncharacteristic fumbles behind the stumps.
ICC’s victory was never in question, but attempting to end the game with a flourish and needing only one run to end Patong’s misery, Naik (41) holed out to a delivery from Quail, gathered again by Kohler safeguarding the boundary.
Still with a single run to win, and emulating Jha’s bowling exploits, Van Blerk removed his pads and turned his arm for a wicket-maiden over taking the scalp of Sadarangani (17) with an enthusiastic stumping by replacement keeper, Raju.
Finally, in the 19th over and declining several opportunities to take a run, Jha ballooned a ball from Ike Bekker for a single to seal a second decisive ICC triumph over Patong, this time by six wickets.
Patong’s Runhaar picked up his team’s best four-over figures with one wicket for 16 runs, while ICC’s Naik claimed Man-of-the-Match for his batting performance.
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Text by Neil Quail.