By Sham Ali
(Celebrating 34th Anniversary – Match #1033):– On a manicured Van Courtland Park the scene was set for battle and Lions made an incisive grasp at Cosmos very early in the match when they opted to bowl first.
But Cosmos waited and timed their counterattack, and when the ball was in their hands they responded with a fearless, but more lethal fight-back to Lions attack. That came on the strength of Sohan Dass who delivered the lethal blow with an inspired spell to bag a fifer that scythe out the opposition’s top order and ultimately floured Lions.
It was the kind of performance that is usually required in defense of small totals after Lions bundled Cosmos out for just 110 runs. Dass was up to the task though, and he gave Cosmos the dressing that was needed to stop the bleeding after they were backed into a corner and appeared wounded by a relatively average Lions attack at the end of the first inning.
Cosmos have been there before, and in many other unfortunate situations, but they always showed the grit that is required to fight back. Crawling at 30 for 4 in 17 overs, it was Rasheem James (27) and Dass (18), the former Guyana national player, who gave the inning some respectability with a vital 30-runs partnership before the Cosmos inning closed on paltry 110 all out in 31 overs. Ricky Kisoon got 14. R. Busgith 3 for 12, D. Waysome 3 for 17.
And so, Lions walked off the field puffing on the account of an excellent performance with the ball. But Cosmos is a never-say-die team and they pounced on this opposition with a determined effort. Lions could not find their stride as wickets began to tumble against a Cosmos attack that kept a nagging line.
Opening bowler Sham Ali struck in his first over when he trapped Cuthbert Mendonca with his second ball for a ‘drake’ to start the procession. Dass then held on to a head high blinder that left Dennis Evans stunned after he sent back a rocket return catch; Dass thought that it was coming faster than that. He then had Kevin Baugh in some early trouble after he was let off at square-leg and slip. Baugh though, lived a charmed life, all but briefly, before Dass accounted for him at point.
At 19 for 3 off 8 overs and with Mendonca, Evans and Baugh on the bench, Lions had lost most of their strength. Their batting order was now balancing on a tight-rope in high wind, with Cosmos in control of the wind. Dass then got one to nip back off the seam to trap Busgith plumb, and Ali sent Elliot packing after a slight dent to the mid-section.
At 25 for 5 in the 10th over, the hunter had become the hunted, and Cosmos went for the jugular. Lions still had some roar left in their line-up with the die-hards veterans in the likes of Lincoln Harvey, Ken Jackson and G. Thomas, men who have gone to battle with Cosmos for the last thirty years, were left to put up a fight, however, on this day they had exhausted all of their options.
Alternatively, Cosmos appeared more adept at exploiting the conditions of this pitch than their than counterparts. Ali then rearranges Harvey’s furniture and Dass rattled the woodwork for another two wickets to register his first fifer in the Metropolitan Cricket League.
The Cosmos opening spell between Dass, 5 for 20, and Ali, 3 for 21, that had accounted for eight of Lions batsmen with line, swing and a team that had more decibels on this day than one can remember, and that proved to be a little too much for this opposition.
Right arm leg spinner Noah Vaas, the young Australian and a new talent in the New York Cricket Academy, picked up from Dass’s end. It took Vaas just three balls to zip up the inning for Cosmos when he threw himself across the wicket and held on to an excellent return catch that left Lions all out for a meagre 50 runs in the 14th over, as Cosmos sealed a convincing 60 runs victory.