By Sham Ali
(Celebrating 42nd Anniversary – Match #1179):- Cosmos scripted an emphatic victory on account of a decisive spell from left-arm orthodox spinner Towgeshwar Thakoordeen against Phoenix at Randalls Island last Sunday. Cosmos must have felt some disappointment that they were short of a desired total after being 111 for 3 in the 20th over. But given this team’s performances from the last couple of games, and the way they kept improving and believing in themselves, it is not a surprise that they performed the way they did, and last Sunday was certainly a testament of their determination.
It was Thakoordeen who led the attack for Cosmos with his second spell and Alex Chunilall’s lone hand that gave Cosmos the initiative in this match. Cyril Choy, after two ordinary outings, was due for some runs, but couldn’t get going after a somewhat purposeful start with two maximums, before he threw his wicket away playing an ill-advised shot when he hold out on the mid-off boundary for 16. Yugesh Shivpersaud(1) was in and out like a cat in a hot tub, while Shane Grant(9) stuck around doggedly for a while to post an important 3rd wicket partnership of 33, before he went via lbw with the score on 63 for 3 after 15 overs.
However, Chunilall was in good command of the opposition’s attack having brought up another purposeful half-century. He formed the backbone of the Cosmos inning with Akash Rahim in a threatening 4th wicket partnership which brought a sense of calm to the inning. A bowling change saw left-arm orthodox Sharma Sukhdeo into the attack, and that created enough headaches for Cosmos’s batsmen when he sparked a fortuitous lower order collapse. Cosmos moved from position of calm into state of chaos. Alex Chunilall was playing an anchor role though, at times delicate and at times brewed with the occasional belligerence, but his habitual aggressive frame of mind has been his undoing previously, and again on this occasion. He drove a little too early to a ball from Sukhdeo, that held up a bit, and he popped up to extra-cover for 62-ball 61 runs with 3-6’s, and 6-4’s.
Daniel Chunilall, who needed extra ink in the last inning, did not used up any in this match but delivered a seasoned duck after he was given out bowled amidst a bit of confusion; a decision that caused some ‘delay’ after it was ruled not out by square leg umpire, but that unfortunately did not change the original decision. Rahim, for the second time in as many matches, played carelessly via the aerial route at a time when the inning needed some circumspection, and went caught for a 31-ball 25 runs with 3-6’s, 1-4 , as Cosmos inning descended rapidly from a commanding 110 for 3 to 155 all out in 33rd over. Sukhdeo exploited the conditions well with a controlled spell taking 5 for 12 off 6.2 overs, with S. Raghubir getting 2 for 23.
Cosmos had their battle lines clearly drawn and their hands full of fight if they were to defend a below par total. Daniel Chunilall is not one to fade too easily and he affected the breakthrough with his second ball while Delroy Morgan and Dixeith Palmer made further inroads with one wicket apiece, and a run out in the process kept a lid on things, and suddenly the Cosmos total looked quite imposing by the drinks break. At 54 for 4, it appeared that Phoenix had hill to climb on one leg, with a fired-up Cosmos team, and a spin attack that appeared more adept at exploiting the conditions of the pitch that their opponents. The blaze was about to get more intense when Thakoordeen got the ball in his hand and was about to wheel his magic in his second spell. He bowled his orthodox legspin with a conventional action minced with flight and variations and unsung on this pitch and held total control of one end as he spearheaded the attack. The runs quickly dried up as Palmer, an absolutely calm strategist, marshaled the troops with Officer Rodwayne Ward waiting in the wings. Cosmos boys were on their toes and brilliant in the field.
Thakoordeen is in the category of left arm spinners in Cosmos over the years, but his performances thus far have placed him on a very different tier in a short period. While his challenges ahead will require some toughness, he has demonstrated the ability to rise to the occasion, as he did last Sunday when he returned for his second spell. Within four overs, and before Jack could say Sprack, Thakoordeen flipped the match on its head as he scythe through the opposition’s middle-order, and subsequently transformed the battle into a one-sided affair. Cosmos boys’ smelled blood as Phoenix stuttered to 74 for 9 by the 18th over with Thakoordeen the destroyer in chief with 4 for 19 off his 8 overs, in an attack that was clinical in the test of attrition in this match.
The inning appeared to be done and dusted, but a last wicket counterattack from S. Raghubir (17 no) and K. Adams (1) delayed the inevitable as only two balls were required from off-spinner Alex Chunilall, and none from Ward, to seal an emphatic victory and a defining performance from Cosmos.