By Soumendra Basu
Electing to bat, Commonwealth Cricket Club-A (CCC-A) piled up 278 for 7 in 40 overs against Boston Cricket Club (BCC). Veteran (translation: no longer a spring chicken) Soumendra Basu (22 from 14) and Nipul Patel (15) opened the innings, scoring at a fairly brisk pace before falling in quick succession.
Shreenath Rajagopalan and Abhishek Chitale (35 from 36) put on a massive partnership for the third-wicket before Abhi fell chasing a wide ball. This opened a floodgate with BCC claiming wickets in quick succession. The only constant for CCC-A was Shree, dominating at one end with a combination of powerful drives, precise placements, hard running, and even some aerial shots that landed on the other side of the rope.
Shree was helped along with a few dropped catches off extremely hard hit balls, one of which briefly sent the fielder out of the game. The introduction of Kiran Nataraj provided a study in contrast between the batsmen, with Kiran turning down singles to save his energy for the end-of-the-innings blitz.
With a few overs to go, Kiran threw some grass into the wind, gauged the wind direction and proceeded to hit the ball down-wind regardless of where it was pitched on the mat (most of them pitched a significant distance outside the rope off the bat)! The result was his cameo (44 in 29) along with Shree’s arguably best Massachusetts State Cricket League (MSCL) innings (124 not out) propelled CCC-A to 279 after 40 overs. For Boston CC, Amit Mhatre and Krishna Balantrapu grabbed two wickets each.
Of all the bowlers, Mhatre was outstanding, with extremely well located yorkers at the death. BCC started their innings with an outstanding opening partnership between Ajay Beniwal (43) and Amit Warambhe (24). Belying the heat, these two openers ran like hares between the wickets stealing runs and forcing the CCC fielders to look flat-footed, even when they were not. Also, any loose balls were disdainfully put away, thereby easily staying ahead of the required run rate. Just when worry lines were starting to appear on Fazal’s forehead, CCC caught a break, with Wahab A running out Amit on a non-existent third run.
Soon after, Fazzal Aalam hit Ajay’s timber giving CCC-A the much-needed break. With the openers back in the hutch (or more precisely, under the tent), the run rate slowed considerably. With the RRR climbing to close to 9, Ravichandran Mohamed (36), Arjun Munirathnam (36), Sultan Baig (39) and AK Menon tried some lusty blows, but the increased risks kept a procession of wickets and Boston CC could only muster a score of 253, 25 runs short of the CCC-A total.
Wahab A, Adil Sardar, Raja, Anil Dhingra and Fazzal Aalam bowled well in spells to hold the batsmen in check. MVP Shree was not done yet, grabbing the last 3 wickets. It was a special innings from Shreenath Rajagopalan, made even more special since his mentor Vasu Ram (one of the finest all-rounders MSCL has ever seen) was on hand to watch the game.
Shree acknowledged Vasu with a wave of his bat after reaching his 100, which was a great sight. It was a great game. BCC played the game with a competitive spirit and never-give-up attitude on a hot and humid day.
Well-played TEAM BCC! Also, thanks for keeping us hydrated and for feeding us at the end of the game.