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Robertson rampage sets up series decider

Robertson rampage sets up series decider

CRICKET: A tight eight-run victory for the Rest of the World (ROW) team thanks to a much needed captain’s innings by Jason Robertson at the ACG last Sunday (Feb 28) means the series against the Asia select XI will go to a fifth and final showdown next weekend to settle who will become Phuket champions.

By Neil Quail

Wednesday 3 March 2021, 08:15AM

Having had the outfield watered during the previous week as a result of a combined funding effort from the ACG’s cricket and rugby players, less ground errors in the field were noticeable from both sides, but unforced bowling errors still remain a concern, with 64 in total recorded for the day’s play.

In winning the toss, Asia captain, Shivam Bhattachayraya opted to allow ROW to set the pace by putting his opposition in to bat.

First to the middle saw the left, right combination of Justin Swart and Jeremy Bootsy, with Bootsy characteristically taking little time to settle into his stride, racing to 25 runs from just 15 deliveries, including five 4s, three of which came from the game’s first over.

In stark contrast to ROW’s opening salvo, the game’s second over bowled by Imtiyaz Mushtaq exposed a normally stalwart Swart in twice being caught on the pads, but seeing the energetic appeals being denied, and twice seeing the ball beat his bat to miss the stumps by a hair’s breadth.

Halfway through the seventh over, ROW had reached a score of 60, when Bhattacharaya made the breakthrough by bowling Bootsy, bringing Paul Judge to the crease.

Perhaps, inspired by the performance of his son Dom, who scored his maiden half-century last week, Judge immediately got off the mark in cracking a four off his first ball. Meanwhile, after his somewhat shaky start, Swart had gathered himself to also hammer out a boundary-laden innings of six fours and two sixes to reach 49, but in trying to heave a Bhattacharaya delivery for his fifty, instead found Waseem Musa just inside the ropes, with ROW at 93 for 2.

Down from the capital for the weekend, Craig Morgan’s inclusion to the ROW side proved invaluable as he and Judge added 53 runs to the total before Judge was adjudged lbw, ending the partnership at the end of Mushtaq’s fourth and the game’s 15th over.

Michael Flowers joined Morgan at the middle after the drinks’ break, and within seven overs the partnership delivered 58 runs, as well as Morgan becoming the game’s first of the day’s five half-centurions.

Returning after recovering from an ankle injury, young Zan Coplestone resumed his troublesome leg-spin attack, tempting Morgan to go for his 11th boundary of his innings, but an alert Joe Ninan intercepted, returning Morgan to the pavilion after pummelling 66 from 34.

Replacing Morgan, skipper Robertson took to the crease alongside Flowers, with his side on 204 for 4 and 13 overs remaining. Initially, struggling to read Coplestone’s flighted deliveries, Robertson soon found his range, menacing the Asia bowlers to bludgeon six 6s in reaching a devastating and unbeaten 73 not out off 39 deliveries.

QSI International School Phuket

The 75-run partnership also saw Flowers achieve his half-century before Bhattachayraya again bested the bat to end a wilting Flowers’ innings on 56.

With four overs to play before the lunch break, James Chattaway provided good support for Robertson as the partnership of 53 boosted ROW’s score to 332 for 5, after the allotted 35 overs.

Targeting 333 to win, Asia opened with Ninan and Mushtaq, both contributing well to a 71-run partnership, when ROW’s other father-son duo of James and Eddie Chattaway combined for Eddie to catch Ninan from his father, James’ off-spin bowling.

Mushtaq would eventually claim the day’s fourth 50 on his way to 64, including nine 4s and a partnership of 73 with Ali Khan before Robertson’s reap of three catches began in seeing off Mushtaq from a Paul Judge delivery to conclude the 14th over, and the score on 152 for 2.

Khan soon also fell into Robertson’s clutches four overs later off Eddie Chattaway’s medium pace, just six runs short of another half-century, introducing Coplestone to the middle along with Sameer Khan.

Producing a 108-run partnership and the day’s best, the Khan and Coplestone took the score from 167 to 275, when Flowers and wicket-keeper Anthony Van Blerk combined to dismiss first Coplestone (18), and then bringing Khan’s excellent 83-run innings to an end nine balls later, being caught behind and Asia’s total at 288 for 5 in the 31st over.

With just under five overs left to play and 44 runs needed for victory, Asia’s five remaining batsmen could only muster another 35 more runs as Saju Abraham (10) looked to threaten the outcome before Robertson dismissed the Asia tail-ender with a stunning reflex catch off his own bowling.

A determined all-rounder performance including figures of 73 not out and 1 for 50 off seven overs earned Robertson the game’s MVP award, with mentions to Bhattacharaya (3 for 59 off six) and Flowers (56 and 2 for 48 off seven).

The fifth and final game of the series will start at 10am on Sunday (March 7) to decide who will be crowned series champions.

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