By Sham Ali
(Celebrating 44th Anniversary – (Match #1244):- On a cool Autumn morning with the temperature in the upper thirties many cricketers would be more content in the warmth comfort of their home watching the 2023 world cup final between India and Australia, and routing for their favorite team, we loaded up, and headed out from the Big Apple to Wissahickon in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia to complete our last scheduled match against the 169 year old Philadelphia cricket club.
Of course, whilst on our way we were tuned-in and glued to the final with everyone’s ‘money‘on India, except one. A desperate hope for a cricket miracle to go India’s way with Australia needed another 40 runs was wishful thinking, remember this is Australia. Some glum faces in our van with one man ‘rubbing-it-in’, our driver Sohan Dass we missed the exit while some of the boys were in a temporarily deep state of depression. Relax it is only a cricket match, they got beaten soundly. The Philly Boys were watching as well.
The temperature warmed up nicely to the upper fifties under bright sunshine, and just as the dust were beginning to settle after the Australian pounding on India, we were handed a healthy dose if three half-century partnership, as the Philly Boys. Alvin Gobin, Andy Mohamed and Doneshwar Dayanand took some stick. Antanio took the opportunity to slide and dive without fear on the outfield, unnecessarily at times, since it might be the closest he will get to Lords, as Philly warmed us to a competitive 201 for 3 in the allotted 25 overs.
On a pristine outfield where there is plenty of value for stroke-play, the New York state of mind of the aerial route on bushy outfields is difficult to shelf. Andy Mohamed (the former US under 19 player) looked unsung. Perhaps since wearing a white long-sleeved cricket sweater with green stripes in his playing career for the first time. A wear that is in contrast to his color coded uniform of his generation.
He unleashed a few blistering drives through extra-cover seasoned with some healthy pulls through mid-wicket. A sumptuous punch over the extra-cover boundary was perhaps the shot of the match before he retired on 48 runs off 25 balls. Rooplall (Cosmos highest run scorer this season) got into the mix using his feet again, this time at the crease, for a few lusty blows over mid-on as he anchored the inning with a solid 40 of 33 balls. Sohan Dass and Devindra Balgobin kept the required rate from slipping to beyond 10-runs an over.
A 56-runs cameo between Ryan Ganesh (38 no) and Alex Babulall in just 29-balls brought the score down to three runs needed in nine balls before Babulall retired on a 17-ball 24 runs. Doneshwar Dayanand is the next man in. He looked a nervous wreck. He couldn’t find his glove, and forgot to take off his jacket, but he walked like-a-man-in-control to the wicket – I got this bro! There is a gentle breeze blowing, and it was getting a little nippy as the sun slowly disappeared. He took his guard. He swung hard at the first ball, it rolled back to the bowler. He swung hard at the second ball, and missed by a mile. He swung again at the third and was bowled. He sported a dejected look on his way back. End of the over. Three runs needed off six balls. Is this another Staten Island nightmare?
The heat is on young Alvin Gobin, he has gotten taller since last year, now 14. He looked the part like a confident young batsman with his chest pushed out and full of energy (actually, he was eating from the time we left New York) as he walk briskly to the wicket. He is the man who will bring it home for sure, actually, he wanted to bat up the order (but he forgot how ‘drinks bottles does pack’). Ganesh swung a skier to mid-wicket. It fell safe between two fielders converging from the deep. They ran the first and turn with hesitation for the second. Alvin slipped on the turn, a stop go, stop go, (this was no Balgo and Dass stop-go disaster v Staten Island), as they scamper for the second with Alvin safe on the dive, even though, the ball was thrown to the opposite end. A push to mid-off for one. Ooooow hello, Alvin turned to come back for a second and the winning run, they did the dance half way down the wicket, and almost collide. He has to shift gears, the boy got some speed as well, the throw comes in to his end, he puts in a big dive, and he can dive on grass for sure, better than Antonio.
Safe! Match over. Cosmos won. The refreshments were just perfect. It’s November 17, I need another jacket. Who else is playing cricket in this weather? Have a wonderful Joyful Christmas.
Dec 2. Cosmos on the road again to Foxwoods.