By Sham Ali
(Celebrating 33rd Anniversary – Match #1023):- Scorecard: Cosmos 173 for 4 off 22 overs. (F. Taj 68 no, A. Khan 45, S. Dass 15 no A. Syed 1 for 29) beat Staten Island 171 all out off 32 overs. (H. Rahman 42, K. Mala 22 no. S. Ali 2 for 20, R. Levy 2 for 30, F. Taj 3 for 30) by 6 wickets.
On a day when the heat and humidity can extract sparks from even the coolest of heads, albeit on a cucumber pillow, but Cosmos opening batsman Faisal Taj kept his cool to take his team to a convincing 6-wicket victory over Staten at Walker Park, Staten Island last Sunday.
The conditions tested the endurance of many on the day and Taj responded with grit on either side of the inning as he weathered the elements and buckled down after Staten Island had won the toss and posted as respectable 171 all out. Cosmos opening batsman, Jetendra Sookdeo, in quest of the opposition 171 all out, went via a dubious lbw decision in the third over.
And as it has been in the last two matches Taj was joined by Amjad Khan and they proceeded to repair the inning with another solid partnership. Khan has been in pristine form this season with three consecutive centuries under his belt and his form can be dangerously contagious especially when it is contracted by one of your most explosive batsman like Taj; and now Taj, cosmos lucky charm, is beginning to shine as is reflected on the scoresheets.
The partnership had accelerated to 67 runs in only 7 overs and was beginning to look ominous as it seemingly brought a sense of calm to the Cosmos inning. The run rate kept rising as Taj and Khan took control of the opposition attack and just as the partnership was beginning to move into overdrive as Staten Island captain Abdullah Syed tried to feverishly to maneuver his bowling attack to quell the rate , albeit, an attack that lacked venom and appeared quite flat very early in the inning.
Taj and Khan began to find the gaps with regularity and without much effort. But, the breakthrough came when Khan was adjudged stumped off Syed for a breezy 40 runs off 31 balls, 5 fours and 2 sixes, and with the score on 78 in the 10th over and at that point, the match was again reduced to “what’s next.” The dismissal simply added to the woes of an undesirable officiating on either side of the inning from a common denominator and that unfortunately kept the thermometer gauge fluctuating on the overheat mark.
Taj though remained unperturbed and kept a cool head throughout but not totally oblivious to the dreaded finger as he pushed passed his third consecutive half century of the season with renewed confidence. He and Rasheem James took the score to 136 by the 20th over before James’s greed got the better of his form, and after he had cleared the mid-wicket boundary he attempted it again and to holed out at point.
Sohan Dass, the former Guyana national player, made his way to the crease cognizant of the opposition kind reception, and the recipient of the ill-advised use of the mankading method effected against him two seasons ago. That left a check mark on the Staten Island’s history board in red ink. He has since responded politely with a dismissive 87 not out in the next encounter, and here again he ensured that Cosmos raced passed the total, mindful of his crease, without any further hiccup, and placed a check mark of a different quality on the legacy of cricket in Cosmos.
Dass, burly by his team measurements and small in Rasheem James group, went big over square-leg for a maximum (no less is expected of him) and twice through the mid-wicket gap taking 14 runs off a lone over from G. Felix. Taj then treated his appetite with some bits of belligerence when he struck M. Waseem powerfully over extra cover in succession to take Cosmos to with duce of sealing an emphatic victory.
But on this day, Cosmos looked more adept at exploiting the conditions of this pitch than their counterparts with both bat and ball, and instead of Dass sharing the new ball, in a calculated move on a hard bouncy pitch, the eighteen years old Thohidhuzzaman Rana was given the opportunity. He is green and initially experienced some difficulties to control the ball as it swerved around, and he sprayed a few wides on either side of the wicket, but when he eventually got a few in the right areas it was good enough to stamp an impression as a future prospect.
Earlier, Staten Island captain Abdullah Syed uncharacteristically could not contain himself when he chased after a wide delivery from Rana and wicketkeeper Jetendra Sookdeo gloved a straightforward catch. It was a superficial wound; however, the dreaded finger of the umpire increased the already hot and humid conditions to a few more degrees above boiling point where the bat became firewood.
And in the heat of things, Taj was having a good outing when he plucked a one-handed blinder to his right at second slip to remove M. Arab off Sham Ali, and then bagged 3 for 30 in his spell while R. Levy was at his usual best with 2 for 30. Only the veteran Habeeb Rehman showed some maturity and played a lone steady hand for 45 while Krishna seemed to find his swing again with a breezy 22 not out. But Cosmos had mapped this opposition to perfection and absorbed the victory without much worry.