Concordia played their 9th match against Ajax on 17-Juli at their home. Overall, it was a roller coaster of a match which deservedly ended in a tie.
On a bright sunny day, Ajax skipper won the toss and elected to bat first. Apparently it is not what visiting teams usually do in Concordia. However, that was not the case this time. Concordia was nevertheless very upbeat about the match due to their mammoth win the last Sunday. Ajax openers Paliwal and Koppejan started their business in a careful manner, nudging balls here and there for few singles per over. Contrary to previous matches, Sid was more effective than Sree (due to lack of any swing) initially. Sid was successful in getting gloves of Paliwal to the keeper, which was shockingly not heard or seen by the umpire. However, after few overs, the batsman got out to a similar delivery in the similar manner. After this wicket, Ajax no. 3 Milde and Koppejan played sensibly for some time and tried to stay as long as they can. Sree and Sid bowled 5 overs each in their first spell. Concordia skipper then turned to his non-turning (but wicket-taking) leg spinner, Ram Shukla. This move paid rich dividends almost immediately as Koppejan mistimed a drive to covers. Milde was then joined by Grande who also happened to be their coach-cum-player. However, soon Antony caught him right in front of wickets when Grande tried to play a full delivery across the line. Ajax no.5 Hodgkins happened to be an Irish chap. He and Milde then tried to control the innings in their own ways. Hodgkins was particularly very effective in playing Concordia bowlers by stepping out to counter any swing (if there was), also well supported by consistent full bowling by bowlers. In between, Milde played some good strokes on Ram’s bowling towards cover direction. Sensing a growing partnership, Concordia skipper Tiggy decided to bring himself in the action. After few tight overs, he got Milde’s wicket when the latter tried to play a straight delivery towards leg side and missed it. He was adjudged LBW. Ajax no.6 Iqbal, also the skipper, well supported Hodgkins and they ran for the next 15-20 overs and took a lot of close singles. Concordia fielders were quite ineffective in cutting down those singles and were considerably low in energy, excuse was the hot n humid weather. Sree came back in his 2nd spell and took 2 wickets in a bid to restrict Ajax to around 170. However, Ajax no.7 Bindra and no.8 Brouwer had different idea and after few lusty blows by them, Ajax completed their innings to a respectable total of 200/7 in 40 overs, with 31 extras. However, Concordia was not entirely unhappy with the 1st innings and were quite positive of getting the score easily and comfortably. Sree was the stand-out bowler for Concordia.
After another crappy lunch at Concordia, Manu and Tiggy (in absence of another regular opener) started the proceedings for Concordia. After few tight overs from Kooistra and Iqbal, Tiggy soon, in a bid to clear the in-field, played a full toss straight to mid-on and walked back without opening his account. Tiggy was soon followed by Manu when he tried his “paddle-flick” a full toss and missed it to his pads. That was the 2nd duck of Concordia innings. Concordia no. 3 Sai was then joined by Vikram, who could only stay for two deliveries. In a bid to assert his dominance, Vikram top-edged one straight to mid-off when he tried to flick a middle stump delivery. Third duck of Concordia innings (Vikram’s 2nd in two matches). The score was 5/3 (thanks to a boundary by Sai). Sasanka joined Sai and tried to play patiently. However, as soon as he saw a short and wide delivery, his eyes lit up and he went hard, only to nick it to the Ajax keeper. Concordia were 13/4. Girish came as no. 6 for Concordia and tried to stay as long as he could. On the end, Sai was playing smartly, scoring boundaries whenever there was a loose delivery. Ajax no.3 Young, another Aussie, was apparently even sharper than their opener bowlers. As per batsmen, he was quick and was also swinging deliveries. Girish played him handsomely by not playing anything outside off-stump. However, just when things were getting better, Sai skied one to extra-cover when he tried to clear mid-off and extra bounce did it to him. The score was 49/5. Sai was then followed by Girish, who did not like the new batsman Sid, when he edged one delivery by Young to 2nd slip. Soon, Concordia was 50/6. Old stalwarts, Sid and Shukla had to play their best to get Concordia to a respectable total (forget about winning now). And they did it with some flair and displayed a lot of discipline and intent ! Both of them played cautiously for few initial overs. Sid was particularly very cautious of Young and left (got beaten of) many deliveries outside off. But they played him out. Then the pair effortlessly picked the singles and put away the loose balls to the boundary.. Shukla, in particular, was playing pace quite well and Sid on the other hand tackled their leg-spinner well. Sid hit 4-5 boundaries over mid-on which could have been close but for the speed they went with. Sid also played a brilliant slog sweep over mid-wicket for a six and some1 sitting in the pavilion said, “that’s how you play a slog-sweep”.
After a brilliant partnership of 130 runs for the 7th wicket and match being only 21 runs away, Shukla got out LBW when he tried to place a good length straight delivery from Grande towards square leg. Shukla made 49 brilliant runs. Concordia were 180/7 at this stage and required another 21 runs with 3 wickets in hand. Sid was still playing there in his 70s and was accompanied by Rakesh, who was playing his first overgangklasse match. Ajax skipper brought in Hodgins for the first time in the match. He bowled like Agam and got Sid in his first over when Sid tried to clear the long-off but can only connect bottom of the bat. Sid got out scoring 74 useful (and memorable) runs and is now only 16 runs shy of being highest scorer for Concordia-1. The score became 180/8 (from 180/6 or rather 50/6). The equation was 21 runs, 2 wickets, 4 overs. It was again anyone’s game. Pressure took over Rakesh, and he skied an easy one to long on and was caught comfortably by Young. This was Hodgkins 2nd wicket in 2 overs. Now Concordia needed another 11 runs with one wicket left. Antony guruji joined Sree.
From 50/6 to 180/7 and now to 190/9, the match had taken so many twist and turns, and it was not over yet. Concordia required 7 of the last over, with Sree facing Grande. First ball, over covers for 2 runs. 2nd ball straight over the bowler’s head for a definite boundary but for the other Aussie Young. He fielded brilliantly to convert the 4 into 2. Equation became 3 runs of 3 balls. Sree was beaten outside off on the 4th ball. Fifth ball hit Sree’s pads, followed by loud appeal but turned down by the umpire. Last ball & two required, with Antony facing it. Grande bowled this one short and far from Antony. Antony being sure of wide was not running but Sree was already standing with Antony and forced him to run. Antony narrowly escaped run out (or maybe reached safely). We were anticipating a wide signal from the umpire but it so happens that the ball was not wide as per him. And luckily the match was tied due to the bye. All said, in the end Concordia was quite happy with the outcome of the match, especially after they were 50/6 in some 16-18 overs at one time.
Smartrunning by Ajax players, Hodgkins and Iqbal. Kooistra and Young were outstanding as bowlers for Ajax.
First 3 Concordian batsmen getting out without opening their account; two of them on full-tosses,and the other scored 2nd duck on the trot. Now, they can be seen bullying local bowlers during practice on Wednesdays, to keep their pride intact.
Brilliant and match saving partnership between Sid and Shukla.