vinod has once again done an excellent job in writing up the second match report of the 20 over game played by the keralites of columbia against the rest of indians in columbia. actually it should be 'rest of the world' since they had the star west indian player eugene in their team !! as you can read below, we (the mallus) were beaten hands down by the rest of india, thanks to the blistering knock by vinod and some lacklustre bowling by us. read on .. and feel free to comment. few pictures clicked randomly by baji and raghu have been uploaded - you can view them here or by clicking the Pictures link at the right.

-- begin match report --

The venue: Dutch square cricket ground.
The day: July 15, 2006.
The event: Second OD cricket match between Kerala Veterans versus Rest of India (ROI) oldies.

As expected after the drubbing in the first OD match, ROI made several changes to their line up. Ramesh and Eugene were included to bolster the sagging bowling attack which was taken to cleaners the previous weekend. These two added more penetration in terms of fielding also with Eugene the very best at short extra covers and Ramesh on the boundary lines. Sathyaraj, Bhavin were brought in to strengthen the fielding and batting. On the other hand, Kerala veterans also made few changes by bringing Shaji and Binu for batting and Baji for bowling. The experienced Shaji was much needed inclusion in the batting line-up since he has a calming nature albeit with little bit of laziness added to it when it comes to running between the wickets :).

ROI won the toss and elected to field. Captain Vinod made the gamble owing to the presence of his trusted bowling attack and later on (after the game) had hinted that ROI team as a whole believes in chasing targets. The pitch was very much the same, dry and hard. The puff of dust was present right at the good length spot for the bowlers to exploit. So, the situation was perfect for a fighting game of -Cricket. With stakes high on each sides, the game commenced.

Kerala veterans opened their innings with Jobin and Shaji. Ramesh started the proceeding by bowling a very tight first over whereby only two runs were given. Vinod then brought in Deepak Verma who had bowled well in the last match to start the second over. Deepak who bowls gentle medium pace is difficult to get away for runs. Both Jobin and Shaji rooted to the crease, found runs hard to come by. In 3.2 overs, Kerala veterans had made 10 runs. A slow rate much to the liking of ROI.

Sensing the lack of run rate, Shaji tried to press the accelerator. He had a mighty swing only to be caught at deep-midwicket by Bhavin. It is worthwhile to mention here, that after the game Shaji nick-named Bhavin “Bucket” for he seldoms spills the catches that come along his way. With pressure mounted and loss of one crucial wicket, Eugene came to bowl as first change in place of Ramesh (2 overs, 4 runs). On the other end, a tired Deepak was taken out of the attack after 3 good overs. “Tall Muru” replaced him. Muru and Eugene bowled well in tandem. At the end of 10 overs, Kerala veterans had made 43 runs (a run rate of 4.3 runs/over). Jobin who was playing and concentrating hard made valuable 18 runs before a lapse in concentration saw him offer a simple catch to Eugene of the bowling of Muru.

It was interesting to note the enthusiasm of the ROI players. Each of them was energetic in the field always shouting and supporting the bowlers who needed the support to not only beat the batsmen but also the heat.

With pressure mounting, Kerala veterans lost few quick wickets and were looking down the barrel. The partnership between captain Sabari and Sashi then restored some parity. They both batted brilliantly with Sabari taking the aerial route and Sashi providing the sheet anchor role. Eugene finished up his bowling with excellent figures which read ( 4 overs, 18 runs and 1 wicket). Vinod then introduced his “leg spinner” “Veesra”. The Kerala veterans seemed predetermined in their approach against Veesra. Sabari didn’t allow Veesra to settle down. He hit Veesra for mighty Six over mid-wicket and a pull through the gap between mid-wicket and squarish fine-leg fetched another boundary to end the over. However, knowing that Kerala veterans were looking for quick runs, Vinod persisted with his slow bowling option. It paid dividends. Veesra foxed Sabari with a straighter one (not that he spins too much :)) that was pitched on middle and off-stump, cramped Sabari for space and crashed into off-stump. From here-on Kerala veterans were not able to increase the run rate. At the fall of Sabari’s wicket the score board read 81/5 at 15.3 overs. They could only score 31 runs of the last five overs and ended up with a total score of 112 runs from 20 overs.

ROI Oldies Innings:

ROI opened their innings by sending a pinch hitter Bhavin and Sudhakar the opener was supposed to play the sheet anchor role. It was a good idea but the implementation was bad, as Bhavin with the score on mere 5 runs heaved and Bino took a good catch off the bowling of Sashi. Captain Vinod came in next to arrest any more fall of wickets.

At the end of fours over ROI had made 23 runs with the help of 13 extras. Sabari then introduced off-spin in the form of Santosh. On any given day, Santosh is a very tidy bowler who keeps his deliveries to the off stump line. This time around, he was erratic and Vinod seized the opportunity and scored 17 runs in one over. From this over onwards ROI never looked back in terms of run rate. Although Sabari came in to bowl, Vinod and Sudhakar were well settled. It is important to mention the importance of Sudhakar’s innings. He gently rotated the strike and placed his shots to perfection. Similar to Kerala veterans innings, Sudhakar played perfect sheet anchor role, while Vinod took the aerial route and cleared the fence couple of times. Sabari desperately looking for wickets brought in Jobin (another off-spinner). He too was clobbered for 19 runs in one over.

From a score of 5 runs for the loss of one wicket at the end of 1 over, ROI made 75 runs at the end of 11 overs. With a respectable score at hand, Sudhakar wanted to try some of his own shots and was bowled by Sashi. It is funny to note, that while fielding from short-midwicket Sabari (Sashi’s captain) called; “common-on keep throwing, instead of “bowling””. Wise words spoken. At the same time, we have to appreciate the control that Sashi and Muru has in bowling their so called “deliveries”. They both were on target and did a fine job for their respective teams.

Thiagu then came in and went out in a fashion which was bizarre. With the heat taking a toll, Vinod had already said “NO” for a second run, but not understanding the conditions, Thiagu ran with fresh pairs of legs only to be stranded out of his crease. At the score of 89 Vinod lost his off-stump,bowled by Bino. The score read 89 runs for the loss of 4 wickets at the end of 12 overs.

Sukumar and Muru then pushed the score along and soon retired hurt to provide batting glimpses to players who had not bowled. ROI soon completed the formality in 14.5 overs.

ROI has come right back into the series with this emphatic victory. It remains to be seen which team will hold nerve in the final decider. Both teams are at logger heads with each registering comfortable wins once.

It was heartening to see such a nice match in Columbia played with such nice friendly banter. It seems Columbia is warming up for some mature gamesmanship and enthralling cricket.

Players like Ramesh and Eugene made a big difference to the ROI performance. For Kerala veterans, all the players chipped with decent performance and if they are able to cut down on extras and some tight bowling, we are in for an exciting finish.

See you soon for the final battle for Columbian Cricket SUPREMACY :)

-- end match report --