By Sham Ali
(Celebrating 44th Anniversary – (Match #1232):- The occasion was ripe for a showdown with Cosmos on a high and Warriors on the hunt as both teams stared at an open spot in semi-finals in the New York National Cricket League 30 overs Round Robin competition. Hot and humid, the coin landed on heads, and Warriors did not hesitate to take first strike.
Again on this occasion Cosmos opening spell between Sham Ali and Ryan Ganesh was on target as they kept Warriors quiet to just 31 for 1 in 8 overs at the end of the powerplay when Ganesh accounted for Y. Bachan who top-edged a flick to the wicketkeeper. A good piece of fielding on the boundary from Shane Singh resulted in C. Persaud being run out when he attempted a second run, 43 for 2 off 10 overs.
In the next over from Ali, Akash Rahim, he has got one of the safest pair of hands in the team, grassed two crucial catches at mid-wicket and at point to give K. Christian two chances when he was on 9 off Ali in the 11th over, and another on 23 in the 13th over off the first ball from Towgeshwar Thakoordeen spell, and the over yielded 17 runs.
Despite those two chances, Cosmos went to the break with a good grip on the match with the score on 81 for 2 in 15 overs. However, on resumption, a 3rd wicket partnership of 80 runs between Christian and A. Singh (15) took the score to 123 for 3 in the 19th over before Devindra Balgobin held on to a stinger at deep extra-cover.
Yet again, Cosmos missed crucial opportunities to shift the balance of the match at 142 for 3 when Naresh Persaud was brought into the attack. He immediately created a few chances with an inspired spell of medium pace bowling. He had S. Deonarine, on eight, skied to mid-off and Ganesh spilled a simple chance, and sustained a finger injury in the process, and then a head-shaking piece of work by the wicketkeeper resulted in another missed chance to run out Christian on 84, and Cosmos looked quite casual in field.
But Persaud kept probing and brought his team back into the fight with two wickets in two balls. Alex Chunilall held on at mid-on to remove S. Deonarine (20), in his next delivery, he clipped the off stump of M. Hariprashad, 180 for 5 in 25 overs. Persaud then watched his hat-trick slipped through the wicketkeeper’s glove, and it appeared as if Cosmos was attempting to clog a leak with a fishing net.
Christian rode his luck on his way a good century as he pounced on some loose bowling from Chunilall and Singh that went for 61 runs in four overs at a crucial stage of the match. Christian, apart from a few reprieve, played an inning of quality as he went on to score a 72-ball 121 runs, and Cosmos was left to regret their missed chances. Warrior’s inning closed on a competitive 237 for 6 off their allotted 30 overs. N. Persaud took 2 for 39, while Ganesh, Dass, and Singh got one wicket each.
Cosmos got off to a flyer on an outfield that offered rewards for finding the gaps as they raced to 50 in 5, but had lost Singh to an ill-advised swipe. Kemar Cox raced to 32 off 16 balls, and after sending one way over mid-on he attempted to repeat the stroke and lost his middle stump. That brief period was the highlight of the Cosmos inning as the trend of a series of poor shot selection continued throughout inning.
Warriors ceased the opportunity to land their foot on the jugular early in the inning, and kept it there once they had accounted for Cox’s wicket. At 15 overs the break, Cosmos was on 113 while Warriors were 81 at the same stage, however Cosmos had a major flaw in their equation, they had lost seven wickets in the process and never recovered.
The Cosmos line-up was thirsty of a batsman the caliber of the Antanio Rooplall who watched with frustration and wish he could fast-forward the clock to heal a broken bone in his hand. On this occasion, the Cosmos batsmen seems to lack the required temperament and experience to challenge the target in this playoffs match.
Unfortunately, the occasion may have gotten the better of this young team that was perhaps satisfied to have gotten this far having played some excellent cricket throughout the season. They were superbly led by Ryan Ganesh who on occasions inspired with bat and ball. The Cosmos inning petered out to 126 all out in 20 overs. J. Shafeek took 3 for 34, and R. Khan 3 for 16.
Good luck to the teams in the semi-finals.