By Sham Ali
(Celebrating 33rd Anniversary – Match #1024):- Scorecard: Cosmos 157 all out. (F. Taj 29, R. James 27, S. Ali 21. S. Anderson 4 for 44, T. Whittick 3 for 11.) lost to Villagers 158 for 6. (Z. Marshall 47, S. Anderson 21, K. Eberts 24. R. Levy 2 for 39.) by 4 wickets.
On a feather-bed at Floyd Bennett it seems easy to pick holes in Cosmos performances in a match that had required the team to show some spine and and challenged the opposition, but instead they flattened to a crushing 4-wicket defeat against Villagers last Sunday. It was a match balanced on probabilities in this last round with a majority of the teams vying for a playoffs spot. It came down to but a run broken up into decimals, if there is such a thing.
Cosmos’s victories over this opponent in the last two encounters may have boosted their confidence coming into this match, but this is a new look opposition and that could not have responded more emphatically, and that will give Cosmos some pause and a need to reassess the squatting area as they waited on the playoffs.
And while there were plenty of sunshine on the day an abundance it came to Cosmos in the form of opportunities for the younger players in the team, Imrul Hasib and Thohidhuzzaman Rana, to gain some valuable experience batting up in the order in the absence of the two inform batsmen, Amjad Khan and Jetendra Sookdeo. But after a good start of 44 runs by the sixth over the opposition’s pace attach exposed the vulnerability of the inexperienced top order.
Hasib in his new role may have had some nerves but he didn’t show it when he drove with confidence. It was perhaps the only glimmer of hope on an otherwise gloomy day. He fell softly when he was in no position to pull a short delivery, and soon after Faisal Taj’s inside edge onto his stumps from an ungainly push outside off stump gave S. Anderson two of his four wickets.
That was the story of the rest of the middle order that fell to a series of poor shot selection. At 90 for 4 in the 14th over the Cosmos batting order still had a few proven planks of strength, but that too in this crucial match cracked to ill-fated choices. When the inform Rasheem got one that stood up at him and he succeeded only to fend a simple return caught to Anderson, and Sohan Dass punched a longhop to the man at short extra cover the scorecard after a good start had a disappointing look, 110 for 7 in the 19th over.
The s score painted a different picture as there were consistent bounce and pace on this pitch and the kind of attack that is expected from one of the top ranked teams. They deserve credit for accessing the conditions and kept their attack on a consistent line. Cosmos batsmen succumbed to a series of poor choices and the score ultimately reflected a lackluster performance. A plucky 8-wicket partnership of 40 runs between Sham Ali and Rana added some sanity to the inning. It was a reminder that these were good batting conditions that were left to be reaped. The partnership though proved to be vital in the final tally of the points table even though Cosmos crumbled to 157 all out by the 31st over.
It is rare that a small total under these conditions would be adequate and it would require a herculean effort from Cosmos bowling attack to defend it. Ralston Levy looked like he was ready for the challenge and Cosmos captain Sham Ali was encouraged when he brought him on in the 4th over and he removed Glenn Hall to affect the breakthrough. S. Anderson, the former Jamaica national was beginning to look dangerous before Rana took a brilliant running catch on the mid-wicket boundary; however, Levy was the lone soldier in this battle with 2 for 39 off his 8 overs.
Xavier Marshal, the former West Indies player relished the opportunity on a feather-bed as he stepped into his usual aggressive mood with a breezy 47 before Taj rooted his mid stump. Villagers were poised at 99 for 3 at the break, however, Cosmos kept their focused and fought to the end. Taj held on to two good catches on the mid-off boundary, but could not prevent Villagers from securing an important 4-wicket victory.
Victory though came to either side on a large and small scale as Cosmos had managed to extend the opposition just enough to pencil a significant impact on the points table. And you wouldn’t know it unless you can wrap your heads around decimals, the fallout on an earlier schedule match (a story for another day) in which the Metropolitan Cricket League’s leadership docked two points from Cosmos that calls for serious pause, and after eleven matches that decimals would have been the determining factor for a playoffs spot. Despite the inner workings that exists, Cosmos evidently rose above the very things that divides teams and was good enough and enough to rise regardless of the troubled couple (points and a match).
Nonetheless, the quality of Cosmos cricket ultimately moved them up on the points table. That a team such as Cosmos that has had a history of keeping their heads held high with an unbeatable courage and a never-say-die attitude always finds a way to summon the energy with the finishing line in sight has done it again.