Qui Vive Debut : Nand and Harshad
Qui Vive2 Debut : Sushmit Kaul
MOM: Vignesh Rajagopalan
The first game of the 2019 campaign was a bittersweet reminder of how defeat can be snatched from the jaws of victory. On track to win comfortably, QV2 squandered the advantage to let the opposition win a thriller.
Uncharacteristically winning the toss under overcast conditions, captain Gaurav put the opposition into bat against the newly introduced pink ball. It only took 2 balls for the decision to be vindicated as Gaurav nipped one back into the opening right hander to nick the top of off stump and deliver a dream start for QV2. At the other end, Sooraj started brightly with a few dots but a couple of looseners found their way to the boundary against the other opener. But with the very first ball of Gaurav’s third over, he shattered the stumps of the number 3 batsman to send him on his way for a golden duck.
With the score at 8 for 2 it was upto the number 2 and number 4 batsmen to claw their way back into the game. Anoop was introduced in the 9th over to join Gaurav for a change of pace but he found no luck on his first bouncer as it top edged over the keeper for a 6 – kicking off a fairly unlucky outing for Anoop where he couldn’t get beyond deliveries whizzing past helmets or top edges in no man’s land.
The introduction of Vignesh’s slow left arm at the other end of the attack after Gaurav’s epic first spell was a masterstroke that took time to unveil itself. While Anoop was replaced by Amit after failing to get a breakthrough, Viggy was frustrating the batsmen at the other end. After 5 overs of struggling to pierce the field against his tight, disciplined deliveries, the other opener tried to break free by trying to clear mid-on but couldn’t get beyond the safe hands of Anoop. He struck again in the very next over setting up the number 4 batsman – dragging him outside off to drive before getting one to turn sharply from middle and leg to shatter his stumps. Advantage Quivive; as an 82 run partnership ended with 2 quick wickets to leave the VVV3 at 105 for 4.
Doubling down on spin, Vaibhav replaced Amit but it was once again Viggy at the other end who struck in his final over to get bastman number 6 bowled and finish with figures of 3 for 22 in his 8 overs for a man of the match performance.
Debutant Harshad was then introduced into the attack close to the 20 over mark and started brightly with pacy, economical overs. Partnering him at the other end Anoop struggled to contain extras in his second spell as VV3 accumulated precious runs at the end of the innings. Harshad was finally rewarded for his wicket to wicket bowling in his 7th over as he got 2 batsmen bowled to severely dent a late innings fireworks. This allowed Gaurav to fire in a stingy second spell featuring a maiden in the death overs as VVV3 finished with 181 for 7 in their 40 overs cushioned by 32 extras supporting the 149 that came off the bat.
A gettable total requiring 4.5 rpo, Qui vive did not start well losing Arun in the first over on the second ball of the innings, caught at point chasing after a width delivery. Joining Amit at the crease at number 3 was Vaibhav who looked comfortable but was dismissed off a sharp low catch with the score on 16. The recovery mission then fell on Amit and debutant Sushmit; they went on to share a crucial 86 run partnership for the 3rd wicket – accumulating singles and doubles throughout their innings. With healthy running between the wickets as the foundation, Amit was able to free his arms for 5 boundaries and a couple of glorious straight sixes, before he got stumped at 55. Sushmit soon followed in the space of 8 runs after Lokesh joined him getting run out for a well worked 32. The 2 new batsmen at the crease had to work through the middle overs and Lokesh and Nandkumar took time to get their eye in as the singles and doubles dried up but they each soon unleashed with a six each and a couple of boundaries as the asking rate started creeping closer to six towards the death overs. After Nand and Lokesh each departed LBW and Caught. respectively Anoop and Harshad found themselves at the crease with around 30 to get off 30. Having each struck a boundary however , both got run out thanks to brilliant direct hits from the opposition that severely tilted the game in VVV3’s favour.
Captain Gaurav walked in and began with a well-timed back foot drive for 4 to raise QVs hopes as did Vignesh; but both perished to the wily medium pacers of Abid Malik holing out to the same fielder going after the straight boundary as Sooraj was left with no partners to get the remaining 7 runs.
An agonizingly close defeat that could’ve been avoided if the lower middle and lower order managed to accumulate runs between the wickets without running themselves out and only relying on boundaries.
Lots of positives on the fields; it went well for the most part of the game, in all 3 departments, but at the end a cruel reminder to handle the pressure better and an early wakeup call for the team.
Man of the match performance from Vignesh for his wonderful spell and getting the 3 key batsmen out.
~ Anoop Gangadharan