By Sham Ali
(Celebrating 33rd Anniversary – Match #1022):- On a cloudy day the Cosmos camp was all sunshine as Faisal Taj stroked his second consecutive half century that set up Cosmos for a convincing 8-wicket victory over Sheffield at Floyd Bennett Field last Sunday. Overnight showers had left a pool of water behind the wicket that resulted in a delayed start, however, Sheffield players must be commended for their efforts to work on the area in trying to get the match to start, albeit reduced to 30 overs.
Taj’s ability with the bat had weighed in heavily on the Cosmos batting order in the past seasons and much was expected of him, however, he struggled to post a good score for sometime but Cosmos kept their hopes up on him, and at this crucial point in the competition he seemed to have regained some of his firepower. Instead of chasing after every ball instinctively in quest for runs he exercised restraint and was careful in his shot selection. Prior to the July fourth fireworks, Cosmos hopes of a playoff spot was hanging by a thread and the margins were getting tighter with only one win, a record that sits lonely by itself for almost two decades in Cosmos history.
The post match preparation that has been a signature of Cosmos has become sluggish and may have been a major contributor to the dismal start. And through that period Amjad Khan was scoring heavily and waiting patiently for some company. Instead of waiting any longer he decided to do what any well intended team player will do, to take matters into his own hands and guide the younger players.
The results were evident as Cosmos turned the tables around to register three big wins with Taj and Rasheem James firing. For the second week Taj was in good company with Amjad Khan who become the calming potion that Taj needed and they once again gave Cosmos a solid partnership, after Jetendra Sookdeo (10), the former Guyana youth player, was adjudged lbw in the 6th over in a solid opening partnership of 40 runs.
The Sheffield inning was carried by Akeem Dodson, the current US player, who stood firmly between Cosmos and his team’s middle order dive after Sham Ali foxed Ahmad Dodson in his second over and Kester Grant was run out in the next. Dodson farmed the strike for most of the inning as he and Sean Barrington put together a respectable partnership of 75 runs to delay Cosmos from making an incision into the middle order.
Taj and Ralston Levy intervened in the nick of time to stop the partnership from swelling when James took good running catch on the mid on boundary to break the partnership. Levy then scalped another two wickets in the next over and Sheffield moved from a threatening 102 for 2 to 105 for 5. Dodson though was playing a captain’s inning making full use to of the strike whenever he was able to manipulate it to stall the Cosmos counterattack, however his team contrived to lose another 5 wickets for 35 runs, 31 of which came from Dodson, but once the incision was made to separate the partnership there was little that Dodson could have done since the tail had no dressing to stop the bleeding.
Conversely, as the lower order collapse there is always that unwritten presence joy that is embedded in cricket’s never ending refreshing sights of sportsmanship, and that was evident in the phrase “it is not who win or lose but how you play the game” when Dr. Dodson, Akeem’s father, made his way to bat. Fully padded and sporting his yesteryear tetrex white pants while his visiting former Maltinoes teammate, Carl Armstrong, taking in the scene. There was also that added flavor of excitement when the younger Dodson called the older Dodson for a second run, but these are not the same nimble legs of the seventies, and he was run out; the conversation at dinner table will be most interesting.
The run out also featured on the Cosmos side by another excellent play from Mohan Kissoon who sent a strong throw low down to Sohan Dass to affect the run out. That gave the older Kissoon the privilege of a few glances in the direction of the younger boys, Levy and company. And with that Sheffield was bowled out for 137 in the 30th over with Akeem Dodson getting an excellent 67 runs not out that included 5 fours and 4 sixes. Ralston Levy took 3 for 37, and Taj 2 for 17.
The target was not a challenging one on this field since the Cosmos top order, had rid itself of the dramas, and began to fire on all cylinders. Fortunately, cricket is always in a high class when fun and enjoyment can coexist with competitiveness and excitement on the field and Cosmos has had that privilege on this day as Sheffield fought a to the end. The effort was not enough though as Amjad Khan continues to impart his knowledge to his batting partner and Taj appeared to be responding in kind.
The partnership took an about turn, after a cautious start, as the pair shifted gears in the 10th over. Khan went big over mid-on into the parking lot and through extra cover, and Taj cleared the mid-wicket boundary to put Cosmos in cruise control and within site of the target. And on this occasion with Khan on 38 he found a way to get out with a dozen runs needed. It took Rasheem James just two balls to take his team to a convincing 8-wicket victory with Faisal Taj leading the way with unbeaten on 58 runs.
Cosmos will play Staten Island on Sunday at Walker Park, Staten Island.