By Sham Ali
(Celebrating 42nd Anniversary – Match #1178):- A vintage Daniel Chunilall stroked his way to a maiden century against Intruders CC at Randalls Island last Sunday. They do not come often, but when they do, they are special and at times extra special as was the case last Sunday when Daniel Chunilall struck a brilliant 128 not out against Intruders at Randalls Island.
It was a determined inning from Chunilall after Cosmos had found themselves in some early trouble at 49 for 4 off 9 overs with the top order back in the pavilion. Dixeith Palmer (the former Jamaica national player) was first to go for two to an excellent catch at point. Last week’s centurion, Alex Chunilall (20), drove one back to the bowler who took a stunning return catch diving to his right and held onto it on a second attempt. Cyril Choy chased a wide and got an edge while Yudesh Shivpersaud had brake and turning malfunction and ran himself out going for a second run. A crucial 5th wicket partnership with Akash Rahim led to the recovery with Rahim playing a steady hand picking up the singles and rotating the strike while Chunilall chewed on anything juicy that was served on a platter.
Much can be said of siblings’ rivalry that is often unhealthy, but these two Chunilall boys (Daniel and Alex) are simply the product of good pedigree. They seems to feed off each other’s strengths as was on display in the last two matches as they blasted individual back to back centuries on the same ground albeit under very different situations. The vibrations in Cosmos camp a week ago were loud and clear ‘little brother is showing you up, next week is your turn’ and so it was said and so it was done. Form can be infectious and it took young Alex Chunilall to set the course. In the previous match the younger Chunilall, Alex, was quite aggressive in chasing a big total, while the senior Chunilall, Daniel, was more measured and circumspect in setting a target. His innings had character. He showed his intent very early in his inning with a careful organized selection of strokes, against a rather tempting opposition’s attack on a heavy outfield.
The partnership was gradual taking shape with Chunilall taking the lead. He unleashed a dismissive pull for six over square-leg to bring up a solid fifty, but otherwise he showed his maturity as he exercised restraint and self preservation at crucial stages of the inning under very humid conditions as he kept milking the opposition’s attack. Some signs of fatigue were beginning to seep through while in the 70’s and 80’s but he fought doggedly through that period with his partner Rahim lending good support. He composed himself perhaps upon hearing his little brother calling on him to ‘bat on Dan’ with that familiar echo of encouragement (that I can certainly relate to in my days with my brother Ashmul pounding those words) and the need to lead by example. All the while, Cosmos boys were constantly sounding their words of encouragement. Intruders got a foot into the partnership when Rahim, who was just beginning to play more freely, pulled a short delivery in the 18th over to the man on the mid-wicket boundary. He went for 23 runs off 24 balls in a crucial 75 runs partnership.
Kevin Balgobin joined Chunilall after Rodwayne Ward decided to ‘swept a clean floor’ and did not trouble the scorecard, on this occasion, via lbw. Balgobin picked up from Rahim as he and Chunilall pushed ahead. You could sense that Chunilall felt the ‘wind in his sails’ as he was nearing his landmark achievement playing watchfully with a straight bat and waiting for the loose deliveries while in the nineties. A good 54 runs 7th wicket partnership of with Balgobin took Cosmos to 179 in the 25th over before Balgobin had brake issues when he ran passed a wide delivery.
Chunilall though remained calm and composed. He had showed some sparks in his ability to tear into the attack in his earlier innings, but never carry-on, however, on this day; he showed maturity and exercised restraint with a careful selection of his strokes. He brought up his maiden century off 72 balls with a cracking six over mid-wicket to loud roar from the crowd that was present for Cosmos family day and he became the 33rd centurion for Cosmos, before the Cosmos inning closed on 229 for 8 off their allotted 30 overs with Daniel Chunilall on 128 not out off 83 ball that included 12-4’s and 7-6’s. J. Ramlakhan took 2 for 51, K. Ramlakhan 2 for 41, and U. Kowlessar got 2 for 34 were the pick of the bowlers.
Intruders in reply had some difficulty finding the gaps on a heavy outfield, and against a Cosmos attack that was much improved than in their previous outings. Daniel Chunilall and Dixeith Palmer kept a tidy line in two good opening spells removing both openers in the process. Devindra Balgobin seemed to have found his mojo with a brilliant effort when he took off like a truck to track down a skier and held on quite comfortably. And with some shine still on the ball, he penetrated the opposition’s middle-order picking up 3 for 11. A rather subdued Shane Grant continues to struggle for control and line with the swinging ball with his medium pace, while off-spinner, Alex Chunilall’s 2 for 13, R. Ward, and K. Conyers pegged back the Intruders line-up before they were bundled out for a paltry 75 all out. Intruders, Kerry Ramlakhan and boys, must be commended for encouraging and providing the opportunities to a few of their talented younger players who gave an excellent account of themselves in this match.
However, the highlight of the day was all about Daniel Chunilall. It was a fitting occasion indeed to see one of Cosmos’s young players delivers such a fantastic inning. He calmly raised his bat to acknowledge the crowd, and kept batting on; though a little low on fuel, he still had a few sparks left in his tank as he batted to the end of the inning. There will be lots of talk in the house between the two brothers, numbing their mother’s ear, as to who is the better batsman, albeit that both of their innings were quite contrasting, but extra special nonetheless.
How Cosmos kept delivering these success stories might be magical, or maybe it is magical for a team that is celebrating their 41st anniversary. Success breathes success and so too is hard work, and as such, and Cosmos is extremely proud of these ‘young guns’ that kept firing. That was the 90th century for Cosmos and the 14th all time highest in the club’s unblemished history. It tied with that of Ashmul Ali 128 v KORT at Miller Field in Staten Island in 1985 and on tour to England, Charles Paul 128 not out v Sinsen at Eshwining in Durham, England, in 1997, while it moved ahead of Marlon Samuels 127 v Alliance at Beach32 in 2004.
Conversely, throughout this season, Cosmos kept searching for a spark in the earlier games to get over the line, but they kept falling short. Success though was inevitable, given the willingness of this team to work hard, and this inning by Daniel Chunilall was a confirmation that determination and hard work often yielded results, and it showed up in a very impressive performance. This performance came on the heels of Alex Chunilall’s century last week, and it was a telling moment for the team that had a few disappointments and needed just that little extra energy, and on this occasion, Daniel Chunilall demonstrated his temperament as much as his talent as one of the future leaders on the team.
But if Cosmos is looking for a symbol in this team, like they had in Ashmul Ali over the years, they certainly have a few very good choices, but for now Daniel Chunilall holds the reigns. Can he keep it? Well, time will tell as there are a few who will definitely challenge him. The day though belongs to young Daniel Chunilall, Cosmos lucky charm who was badly in need of a shine, and he finally got it in the form a brilliant century. What better way to celebrate his achievement on this day with feast among friends and family on Cosmos Family Day!
(Correction from last week’s article: Alex Chunilall became the 37th centurion for Cosmos, should have been, Alex Chunilall’s century rank 37th in cosmos list of centuries).