By Sham Ali
(Celebrating 33rd Anniversary – Match #1021):- Cosmos appeared to be under the marked by Zorro in the last few matches, but stood tall and firm in this battle and delivered a terrific all-round performance in this match against an almost totally revamped Queens United team who won the toss and elected to bat when the two teams met at Idlewyle Park last Sunday. And in this second match of the doubleheader weekend, Cosmos subsequently sealed an emphatic victory.
It was Ralston Levy who led the charge with an inspired spell of left arm orthodox spin bowling that struck the opposition smack in the mid-section in his third over. That after medium pace Sohan Dass and Sham Ali scythe out the top order. Dass eventually managed to gain control of the new ball that moved off the wicket either direction to keep the openers guessing. He ultimately sent R. Reza (0) and C. Payne (6) packing before any visible sign of varnish wear on the new ball. At 2 for 7, Dass’s spell of 4 overs ended, and on a 180 degrees flip, Ali had zeroed in on a military line with good movement away off the seam. Ali, nearing the end of a probing spell, removed R. Dixon (15) when Dass took a well judged catch at short mid-on.
At the change with United on 41 for 3 in the 9th over, Ralston Levy did his magic. He trapped H. Hurd (45), and then Jetendra Sookdeo held on to a good catch at deep mid-off. But when Ricky Kissoon made a brilliant diving effort at short third-man to give levy his 2nd wicket in the over, Cosmos ceased the opportunity to pounce on the opposition. Levy then scalped another two wickets that left the opposition batting order in tatters at 107 for 8. But cricket sometimes fortuitously unveiled the mysteries of the black hole, and Cosmos distractions gave the opposition an open airway as Carlton Senior stroked a breezy 51 runs while he took an all-glory 17 runs in Levy’s last over. Senior then featured in two partnerships, a 43-run and 30-run, to give his team a platform before Kissoon trapped him to put a halt on the inning at 180 all out. Kissoon returned with figures of 3 for 30.
Despite the mini recovery, Cosmos kept their focus and their top order delivered on a burnt out Idlewyle. And under the blazing sun the ‘rain gods’ came and ended the drought for Faisal Taj as he played one of his best innings in a long time. Well, he had to as Amjad Khan provided him with the kind of tutelage that is worthy of high praise. The veteran Austin Hutchinson gave his young team something to ponder when took a blinder one-handed catch at third slip to remove Steve Samuel for 20.
At 30 for 1 in the 5th over, Khan joined Taj and they began to construct a partnership of more than runs as Khan was in constant conversation with him in the middle, and Taj looked like he was ready for the challenges of this match. He stroked the ball with ease and authority. He shelved the early all-power swing of the willow, and instead was watchful of the ball outside off stump that was usually met with do or die swing. Cosmos camp wondered if there was a new head in the same body. But Khan was at the other end in partner and counsel and he was comfortable to take the single and let Taj bat upon instruction. Taj flicked for four, he drove through the covers for four, he square cut for four, and oh, he pleased his appetite when he cleared the trees over mid wicket, and just like that Cosmos lucky charm had a shine. Taj is back.
However, the threat of Khan’s form still lurks and he once again confirmed that he is still one of the better batsmen around. When Taj pulled a short ball into the hands of the man at backward square the partnership had already swell to commanding 101 runs in 15 overs with Taj getting a solid 68 runs that included 7 fours and 2 sixes. The partnership was the 151st century partnership for Cosmos to date. Khan then put his foot on the accelerator with a few blistering drives through point and extracover. The crowd at Idlewyle was equally entertained in Sookdeo brief inning when he leaned and executed two classic drives to the cover point boundary. Khan and Jetendra Sookdeo ensured that the doubleheader weekend was a total success which gave Cosmos window in this 40-over competition.
In the end, it was Cosmos who left the mark of Zorro as Victory was duly sealed thanks to an unbroken 3rd wicket stand of 54 runs of 36 balls when Cosmos raced passed the required 180 runs mark in the 27th over with a thumping six of the blade of Amjad Khan’s steel with 13 over remaining. Sookdeo was unbeaten on 13 and Amjad Khan continues to pile up the runs with three centuries and two fifties in six matches as he remained unbeaten on 72 runs that included 7 fours and 3 sixes.
Cosmos will play Sheffield at Floyd Bennett next Sunday.