ROI clinches series dumping Mallus’ (Game 3 Report)

Venue : Dutch Fork Ground
Day : July 22nd, Saturday

Team Lineup:

Mallu (Oldies):

Sabari (C)
Shaji (VC)
Sashi
Jobin
Baiju
Raghu
Eugene
Vinod
Santhosh
Baji
Biju

ROI (Seniors):

Ramesh (C)
Venu (VC)
Muru
Thiagu
Deepak
Nataraj
Sudhakar
Sukumar
SriKrishna
Srini
Sunil

With the series tied at 1-1, everything was at stake for the all important game 3. ROI was without the services of their in form star batsman Vinodh (out on official duty). Mallus for their part were without their best bowler of the series Binu (who had to work). In a move to balance the teams, ROI captain Ramesh agreed to trade off Eugene and Raghu for the match. It has to be mentioned here, that if there is one person who grows younger day by day, it must be Eugene. His reflexes at the short extra cover postion is second to nothing.

It was a perfect English weather (temperature in the lower 70s’) with a nice cloud coverage bringing occasional breeze. Weather man, had predicted rain for most of the day, but it appeared to hold on, nicely atleast till noon. The pitch looked damp near the batting crease and dry else where (offering un even bounce), with lots of assistance for bowlers. Sabari won the toss & opted to field first, pretty much going by, how both the earlier matches were won by, teams chasing. It didn’t seem like it mattered for the ROI captain Ramesh, as his think tank, were even ready to gamble batting first, had they won the toss.


ROI Innings:

The trusted ‘S’ brothers (Sudhakar & Sukumar) were out in the middle, with Raghu & Sashi opening the attack for Mallus. Both the openers were content in nudging the singles, with straight drives & occasional tap on square off both sides. Raghu bowled good line, but was always drifting towards leg, with a couple of wides, which made the task little easier for the ROI openers. Sashi on his part bowled a decent couple of overs.

With his opening pair not able to provide the breakthrough, Sabari brought in Jobin & Baiju to roll their arms. ROI was going pretty @ 6 runs per over after the 4 over mark. There was an interesting little drama out in the middle, when a straight drive by Sukumar was picked & thrown by Jobin from long off, who got something (sunglass etc etc placed behind ) before hitting the sticks @ the non-strickers end, which seemed caught Sukumar short of his ground. The umpire (Veesra) was reluctant to give the decision as the ball got hit on some external object, before knocking the sticks. Mallus’ tried their best to convince Umpire Veesra, who started quoting ICC Rule No 323B (page no. 578 etc etc.) & all Mallus’ could do was to move all those obstacles out off the ground. (One was wondering why the ICC rules should be followed for a series, that was not approved & backed by the ICC?? ? Remember ICC earlier refused to give International status to this series)

Sudhakar by this time, started looking increasingly confident, playing his patented uppish drives on the offside for easy ones’ & twos’. One such shot brought his downfall, when Raghu moved quick from deep cover to his right & plucked the ball out off thin air. It was a spectacular catch, made look simple. The opening pair had made a solid 36 runs by then, with Baiju providing the much needed breakthru’ in the 6th over. Nataraj was the next man in for ROI. Losing his dominant partner, put some pressure on Sukumar, who looking to clear long on, holed out to a simple catch under the throat of Sashi in the same over. Two wickets by Baiju in an over brought Mallus’ right back on the game. Thiagu replaced Sukumar to the crease. Both Nataraj & Thiagu are free flowing batsman, who likes to play their shots. However in the next over, the inevitable “Thiagu” thing happened. In trying to be too cautious of not to get involved in a run out situation again (It must be noted here, that the batsman was run out on both the previous matches), Thiagu stayed glued to his crease, after completing 2 runs as bye’s of a wide ball, not responding to a rare sprint by Nataraj at the batting crease, for a 3rd run of a slight mis field by the keeper , which made the ball rolled couple of yards left to wicket keeper. Both the batsman ended up in the strikers end & Nataraj had to go, who couldn’t figure out, why Thiagu didn’t respond to his call. Thiagu later revealed that, he got confused by a ‘NO’ from the non strickers direction (everyone suspects it was a call by Veesra, who was the umpire till then or is it something “ Thiaguish “ thing happenend again ????).

Veesra was the next man in, jumped infront of Deepak and Muru ,while Ramesh took the job of officiating. Veesra for once looked clear in his minds. He was determined to make an impression by playing percentage shots, in front of the wicket. Veesra didn’t let Eugene to settle on any line, who was introduced into the attack by Sabari to tighten the grips for mallus . Veesra was severe on the veteran, when he pulled a delivery just short of good length to midwicket fence, square cut him over the point fielder for another boundary and made runs at will on both sides of the wicket, running well between the wickets and collecting 12 runs of Eugene’s first over. Eugene was never seen with the ball again. This was the best phase of the ROI innings. On the other hand, veesra’s presence brought the much needed confidence in Thiagu, who in the very next over ,capitalized on yet another poor showing by Santhosh with the ball, in the only over that he bowled. Thiagu pulled a short ball to midwicket for a towering six over the mid wicket for maximum, which traveled miles, landing on the road outside the ground & later flicked another one ,over square leg for the same result, collecting 15 runs of the over.. This changed the fate of the match completely.

With his team sent on a ball hunt, Sabari decided to finally come on to have a bowl.Thiagu and Veesra concentrated very hard to see through the first over from sabari , gathering 4 singles and 2 extras of the over.But sabari straight away removed Thiagu, in his very next over,who was looking to flick a ball that appeared to be a full toss, ended up as a toe crusher, beating his bat to disturb the wood behind. Thiagu had a well made 20 by then. To tie up one end Deepak was sent in next, who right away started finding his range of shots. While Sabari was bowling tight on one end, Sashi was letting it lose on the other, with his harmless full tosses, begging to be hit. Deepak promptly sent all those full tosses to either mid wicket fence or fine leg fence. ROI was scoring at a rapid pace, reaching triple figures in over 14. Looking for runs Deepak threw his wicket, with a big heave over mid wicket, only to be clean bowled by Jobin. Sunil was next in. Veesra, to let others bat, walked out (retired hurt), which brought Muru in the middle. Sunil looked a happy man, hitting a six & four, later getting out bowled by Baiju.This was a surprise package for mallus. SriKrishna replaced Sunil. Muru, pulled one from Baiju for a huge six & played Sabari’s next over scoring comfortable twos’, sending some serious indications to mallus of how he tored the tight bowling attack of USC in the past, eventually getting run out while trying for an impossible third one. Ramesh (likes to be called Dhoni) couldn’t get the flavour of Dhoni’s brilliance to be showered on mallus, while trying to speed up the proceedings , left way for Veesra with Srini on the other end. Veesra helped the team to pose an astounding 152 for 8, remaining unbeaten @ 25. It was a very good collective effort by the ROI batsman, with 6 of their batsman in double figures (Sudhakar 14, Thiagu 20, Deepak 16, Sunil 14, Muru 15). Extras was the highest scorer worth 30. For the Mallus it was Baiju who claimed 3 wickets. Eventhough Sabari bowled a tidy line, was not with his usual self after the hamstring pull he suffered in his second over.

Mallus’ Innings:

It was always going to be tough to score 153 unless their frontline batsman fire big time.
Vinodh &Biju took the strike whereas Ramesh & Sunil shared the new ball. As usual Ramesh bowled tight with his normal burst. Sunil had a little hard time controlling his wides. It appeared though, anything missing the stumps were called a wide (WIDE off stumps may be??) leaving the ROI bowlers nothing but to hit the line of stumps. May be a couple of inches were allowed on the off side, but that was it strictly. Anyhow inspite of that, ROI controlled the proceedings very well. Ramesh got the wicket of Biju, who made way for Jobin. Srini & Muru were the first change bowlers for ROI. Vinodh hit the first boundary for Mallus, when he heaved his bat, getting the ball past wide long on of Srini. Muru got Vinodh in his second over, when a widish delivery (Umpire Shaji almost called it a wide) was chased to give, Thiagu behind the wicket a faint edge to hold. Jobin earlier had a life, when he top edged a Muru’s delivery for a simple catch to be dropped by Deepak in the slip area. Shaji walked in next and took his time. The fielding captain of ROI Veesra had an attacking field in the inner circle. He read the situation pretty well. Couple of his field changes brought immediate results. He moved Sunil from point area to short square leg, who right away in the next delivery effected a run out. Shaji flicked off his legs a delivery from Nataraj, which was very well picked by Sunil moving & bending to his right, to get both the batsman stranded in the strikers end. Jobin had to go which brought Sabari into the middle. In the next over Muru drew Shaji to drive a ball pitched well outside the off stump. The width was there, but the bounce kept Shaji stranded in the crease without any foot work, slashing at it, the ball racing off a thick outside edge, for Thiagu to hold off one handed. It was a splendid effort by Thiagu to take a sharp catch.

Raghu was the next man in. He played a couple of shots on the off scoring ones’ & twos’. Mallus’ were scoring at the rate of 5 an over with the score at 46 after 9 overs for the loss of 4 wickets. Veesra introduced himself & bowled a tidy first over giving away just one run. Muru was called to bowl his last over. With the required run rate climbing to improbable proportions, Sabari tried to hit out one of Muru’s delivery which again landed just outside off stump in a good length area, to get a top edge going high between point & extra cover. Sunil did well moving to his right from point & picking the ball with his right hand on the second attempt. In the very next over, veesra clean bowled Raghu, who was the last hope for mallus, with a traditional leg spinner . Eugene kept the proceedings going for a little while, with a mighty heave for a huge Six over mid wicket from veesra’s over , but it was matter of time before the curtains were down. Deepak was introduced with the assurance of MOM award by Veesra,if he gets couple of wickets in that over. He delivered by getting rid off Eugene & Sashi in the same over. Baiju & Baaji were the last couple of wickets to fall, ending the Mallus @ 94 all out in the 18th over. It was an emphatic victory for the ROIs’ by 58 runs. The Man of the Match was Veesra, for his brilliant batting, bowling & field settings.


Overall it was a very interesting series. With whatever limited resources Mallus’ had, they really put a good show, shocking the mightly ROIs’ in the series opener. ROI for their part did come back hard in games 2 & 3, looking increasingly aggressive. The writer of this article, will be out for the next 3 weeks taking care of personal things. Until then you all have a great time.