Metropolitan Cricket League
By Sham Ali
Panic? That’s not the whole story. Topsy Turvy and playoffs jitters took center stage as the memories of an old rivalry between Cosmos and Progressive came alive at Floyd Bennett Field last Sunday. It was the scene of a dogged rearguard effort between father and son, the younger Ricky Kissoon and the experience Mohan Kissoon, Cosmos last pair at the wicket that culminated in a nervy thriller.

Fittingly, since the result of this match would confirm or deny the playoffs faith of either teams. There is never a dull moment between Cosmos and Progressive and moreso between this father and son pair as the match swung like a pendulum and at times it balanced on a razor’s edge. It is a cricket story that plays out ever so seldom at the local level between arched rivals(clubs or villages) who have battled on the field for decades that gives the true meaning of the game in all its glory and the memories that are behind  are simply golden.

And this encounter between Cosmos and Progressive was not any different as the game came down to Cosmos last pair at the wicket. They came together at the wicket (actually they were together for almost three decades) with the score on 121 for 9 and Cosmos needed 24 runs off 14 overs to win. The equation narrowed down to 9 runs from 4 overs. It was hot. It was tense and it was boiling down to the wire.

Cosmos did not expect to find themselves in this position after had played to plan as pushed Progressive against the wall after they won the toss and elected to bat. Ralston Levy got an early breakthrough when D. Hart was well taken by Mohan Kissoon at backward square, but Progressive  recovered to 54 runs by the 15th over before Sham Ali removed M. Powell (18) at the stroke of drinks. On resumption Ricky Kissoon then snared K. Rowe when Cassius Burton held on to a stinging cut at backyard point.

In the next three over, the off spin of Sajib Salam wrecked havoc putting a dent into the opposition middle order when he got one to sneak past captain Kevil George’s (22) defense just as he was beginning to ominous. Salam then rattled L. Rattery stumps with a faster ball and Faisal Taj snapped C. Elliott at first slip as Progressive slumped to 72 for 6 in the 22nd over.

D. Morand (39) and D. Buchanan (18) repaired the Progressive inning with a crucial 7th wicket partnership of 51-runs to give their bowlers something to work with. Salam took an excellent catch over his head to dismissed Morand off Cassius Burton before Progressive inning ended on a respectable 144 for 9 in 40 overs. Salam was the pick of the bowlers with 3 for 21 off 8 overs, R. Levy 2 for 35 off 8 overs, C. Burton 2 for 30 off 7 overs, R. Kissoon 1 for 21 off 8 overs and S. Ali 1 for 29 off 8 overs.

Sajid Salam led Cosmos bowling with figures of 3 for 21. Photo by Shiek Mohamed

Cosmos must have fancy their chances of a victory but a  they had done in the last three innings, they once again  appeared intent on self-destruct courtesy of some poor shot selection from their top order and collapsed from 35 without loss to 68 for 6. G. Ramsingh was outdone by a late out-swinger. Taj couldn’t curb his aggression when he pulled a juicy longhop into the lap of the man at short mid wicket. Keddy Lesporis fell off the third flamboyant heave to mid-on, and the lanky Burton, who was by this time playing with certainty, was livid when the ball struck his outstretched front pad and was given lbw. His disappointment was evident that he took almost a year to walk off the field ever so slowly counting every grain of grass on his way. C. Choy and. Ali did not stick around too long while Aown Iqbal played a good knock before he went via lbw. Sajib Salam and Ralston added some mixed aggression with a 22-runs partnership which gave Cosmos inning some much needed oxygen before Levy charged down the wicket and was stumped. Salam then holed out on the mid-wicket boundary as the match swung once more.

At 121 for 9, Progressive had wrestled the initiative again but Cosmos was not all done. Unlike the quick wrapped up of most last pair, this pair batted with purpose and intent as they chiseled away at Progressive’s target picking up the singles and converted the occasional twos. Their confidence grew as the target shrunk to single digits. Kissoon and Kissoon were watchful and careful as they stroked the ball on the green for the most part with the senior Kissoon giving the occasional scare and increased the tension when he went airborne just over the fielder head. He got a few gestures (advice) from his partner and settled.

It came down to 5 runs to win off 3 overs. Ricky glanced to fineleg for two, it looked like three but he was wise not to risk his senior partner’s legs, they have had a lot of wear. The tension was high and the hearts were pounding especially for two giants in the Metropolitan Cricket League, on the sideline, Progressive manager Jeff James and the dapper looking Delroy Reid, who is always present whenever Progressive/Cosmos clash, he tracked his way from church on this day.  Their collective memories must have hit the rewind button to Cosmos/ Progressive final in 1999 with James on the sideline and Reid in the middle of the pitch in the thick of things when he was run out as Progressive fell short by just two runs in that scintillating final.

This match has its stripes too. A single to mid-wicket brought Mohan on strike, 2 runs to win. The Cosmos logo on his left chest was visible in rhythmic movement of his heart pounding, a tentative push to the man at silly point, oooh, no catch, dot ball, next ball Progressive committed a cardinal sin – a wide – the scores are tied it, one ball is left in the over and another 2 overs to come. Progressive can lose. Mohan looked relax now, or that’s just a look, his Cosmos logo on his chest gave it away, it is still in motion. Mohan pushed into the gap between point and extracover to the fielder’s left and took off, one, two, three, four, five paces down the wicket.  Ricky stood unmoved; he had planned to win it himself in the next over, a loud shout Noooo!  Mohan turned, the fielder converged, slide and pick up and throw on his knees to the wicketkeeper, Mohan reached for his crease, the mileage on those legs for six decades were too many and the gas in them had expired, he stretched but just short of his ground.

Oh Daddy! Ricky said something, Mohan replied, it was in a different language – we never knew that he knew another language…drama.  Match tied. Victory stared Cosmos square in the eyes and then blinked. And the thriller that was balanced on a razor’s edge was sliced down the middle as both teams denied eachother of a victory and remained in the playoffs mix.