In the day’s double-header, league leaders Patong White played the Goan Panthers during the morning encounter, while Patong Blue and the formidable Kashmiri CC faced off in the afternoon’s sweltering heat.
Having won the coin toss and deciding to exploit the revitalised pitch, Seemant Raju directed Michael Flowers and Stuart Hamilton to open Patong’s batting innings. Returning from a cricket sabbatical, Hamilton’s determination to hit form was evident, making clean contact and increasing in confidence with every delivery faced.
With 27 runs on the board, Panthers forced an unexpected breakthrough in the fifth over when a superb seed from Prem jagged back to uproot Flowers’ off-stump, ending the left-hander’s innings on seven runs. Hamilton soon followed his opening partner being bowled in the very next over by Arun Chawla for 10 runs, passing the partnership baton to Prakash Jha and Adam Drew (1).
Following his recent exploits for ICC in the friendly series against Patong (two centuries in three games), expectation was high for another big score from Jha and he certainly entertained in reaching 41 runs off 19 deliveries with several catching opportunities landing just out of reach from scrambling Panther’s fielders.
Inevitably, it was indeed a catch off the bowling of Balesh that ended Jha’s batting blitz, bringing the rangy Anthony Van Blerk to the crease.
Reaching the 10 over drinks’ break on 74 for four, Van Blerk was joined by Neil Quail, both knowing that with an injured Raju (sports hernia) and Jason Robertson (recently returned from an excessively long holiday) nervously waiting in the wings they would need to bat clever in order to reach their target of 150, while hoping to avoid a potential collapse.
Falling just short, Quail (19) and Van Blerk’s (30 not out) partnership did well to guide Patong to 147 off their 20 overs, while Panther’s bowling left a lot to be desired leaking over 20 runs in extras, with the pick of their bowlers being Mayur Deuskar in taking two wickets for 42 during his four over spell.
Defending a relatively low score, Patong’s bowling and fielding could ill-afford many mistakes, and a solid start from the opening attack of Robertson and Raju soon resulted in a third over dismissal when Sarvesh Kandolkar (2) lofted a Robertson delivery for keeper Van Blerk to catch midway down the wicket with the Panther’s total on just 10.
Deuskar was then joined by Vijay, but while the opener continued to keep the score ticking along, the new batsman anxiously lasted only until the seventh over when a Flowers’ delivery upended Vijay’s stumps, with the Panthers precariously perched on a score of 20.
Adding 16 more runs to the Panther’s score before the 10-over break also brought two more wickets for Patong with catches by Quail and Jha ending the innings’ of Ravi Naik and Balesh, respectively.
Requiring 111 runs off the remaining 10 overs, Mayur (49) and Chawla (26 not out) admirably took the game to Patong, each hammering home a succession of boundaries to secure an 85 run partnership and posting a respectable total of 121 runs from their 20 overs.
Patong White’s 26-run victory, however, keeps them atop the league, with Patong Blue and Kashmiri CC still in close contention.
Michael Flowers returned Patong’s best bowling figures with two wickets for only 10 runs off his three-over spell, while Deuskar picked up the game’s man-of-the-match award.
In the day’s second game, Patong Blue won the toss and elected to bat first against Kashmiri CC. Captain, Alex Runhaar (playing in one of his last matches for Patong before moving to Canada) opened the batting alongside compatriot, Matt Kohler, with both South Africans scoring freely in the opening salvo, before Kohler’s powerful hitting began giving him the edge in the strike-rate game.
Waseem Ahmad, the star KCC fast bowler came in for the sixth over and made an immediate impact reducing the frequency of scoring before destroying the stumps of a somewhat under-the-weather Kohler (35) to reduce Patong Blue to 64 for one after seven overs.
The removal of Kohler brought an aggressively attacking Ali Kahn to the crease, who wasted no time in smashing three fours and four sixes with fantastic timing and improvisation. Kahn (45) was eventually undone, again by the pace and accuracy of Ahmad, in the 13th over with the score on 121.
Runhaar (60 not out) then switched to attack mode, and with the assistance of Andrew McMillian (11) and Sameer Kahn (7), helped lift the Blues to a very good score of 180 from the allotted 20 overs.
Ahmad was clearly the best of the Kashmiri bowlers with figures of two wickets for 17 runs off his four overs.
Needing 181 to win, Kashmiri came out swinging, scoring 23 runs off the first two overs before captain and big-hitting Imtiaz Mushtaq (4) was caught in the deep by Ali Kahn in the third over off the bowling of Sameer Kahn.
Playing his first ever cricket match, confident Canadian Jamie ‘Westy’ Westenburg came out at number three, and with a combination of baseball, ice-hockey and golf techniques, managed to thoroughly entertain the audience as they cheered every run he scored. The innings was so entertaining that spectators actually jeered when ‘Westy’ (15) was caught near the boundary by Blues fielder Matt Kohler from a Saju Abraham ball.
The match suddenly became more serious as big hitting Ahmad joined the in-form opener Arif Mushtaq, who was going along nicely until caught by Rishi Sadarangani – another fine player returning to cricket duty after a lengthy absence – off a Sameer Khan delivery. Soon after, Runhaar must have had the feeling it was his day as he took a very good catch in the deep to dismiss the dangerous Ahmad (22) off Sadarangani’s bowling.
Opener Arif Mushtaq (53) played very well but it wasn’t enough to push Kashmiri CC over the line. Patong Blue eventually winning the game fairly comfortably after the dismissal of last man standing, Saichon Nam Paan.
Alex Runhar was named man-of-the-match by umpire John King in the final act of a great day’s cricket at the ACG.
Next Sunday’s (Aug 12) Super 8’s schedule at the ACG sees Kashmiri CC v Patong White at 10am followed by Goan Panthers who take on Easy Living CC at 2pm.
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