Match 5- The See-Saw
Buoyant with their first win of the season last week, Siyapa went into their first proper ‘home’ game against Knight Riders (KK) this week playing at Shedocksly upper – a ground they are much more familiar with. Though the unusual continuous sunshine in Aberdeen over the last fortnight meant that the pitch gave away all moisture and offered a much harder surface with a truer bounce. Pitch remained far from perfect though with a big dip in the middle but may be hoping to get that fixed is too much to ask.
Captain Salman lost the toss and was put in to bat by KK captain Prem. Asif Yaquob and Humayun opened the innings for Siyapa trying to soak in the pressure applied by Umer Panni and A Kumar. With good bounce being offered by the pitch it didn’t took long before the wickets started falling – and they fell in bucket loads. Humayun fell in the forth over to A Kumar (caught behind on 2), and both Asif (on 6, LBW) and Saad (0, Caught behind) obliged Umer in the very next over.
With 3 wickets down on a score of 11 at the end of 5th over, in-form Amir joined the captain on the crease. For a few overs it seemed that normalcy has returned to the crease with score board ticking nicely, mixed with a couple of boundaries. But disaster struck again in the 10th over when Amir got bowled by A. Kumar on 9. Siyapa were 27/4 with all their top order back in the pavilion. Arrival of Shahram on the pitch again brought some stability with pendulum started swinging towards Siyapa. Having well and truly done their job the strike bowlers were changed over by KK. They were replaced by the veteran captain Prem and V Annamalai. The 2nd line bowling didn’t trouble Salman and experienced Shahram who again laid a foundation for a decent score until the 20th over, taking the score to a semi-respectable 68/4. KK seeing the advantage slipping from their hand brought in Umer again in the 21st over, a strategy that paid dividends immediately with the wicket of Shahram (21, LBW). Crafty Umer Ghafoor joined Salman but didn’t last long and got out in the 25th over after managing just 2 (caught, off M Valaterasu)
At 78/6 and Salman without a recognized batsman on the other end, there was a risk of too low a score to be defendable. KK must have thought of this as pretty much in their pocket at this point. However, Asif Yousaf, who joined his captain on the crease had some other ideas. For the next 7 overs, as Salman was happy to let him score, he managed to nudge and hit the ball around to score 29 runs utilizing four boundaries. However, once again before the game swung too much on one side, it changed directions, with Asif getting caught off Prem. With score 134/7 off 35 overs, the foundation was there for a decent target albeit without the wickets to accomplish this.
With 10 overs to go, M Shahid couldn’t play his natural game and tried supporting his captain to play the full quota of overs but could only manage 4, Prem again getting the break through.
With Tanweer replacing Shahid in the 36th over, tail was finally in, the goal nothing more than to play the full quota of overs. However, with Salman still playing after scoring a patient 50, this seemed easily doable. KK smelling blood, once again brought in Umer to finish off the game and yet again got rewarded with the prized wicket of Salman (caught behind, 59). Captain yet again setting a good standard in fair play by walking despite the thinnest of edges unrecognizable from the umpire’s end.
The last pair of Naveed Ahmed and Tanweer now had to negotiate 6 overs, which they did with relative ease in the process managing 24 runs between themselves. Losing the last wicket (Tanweer, run out , 14) on the very last ball trying to get a 3rd run. Naveed remaining unbeaten on 10. The total was 187 which was more than what seemed possible since the avalanche of wickets at the start of innings.
With a target of 188 to win, and a good bowling to defend that, it seemed that the game has finally swung towards Siyapa.
Naveed Ahmed and Asif started the bowling for Siyapa and started with maidens. Both managed early wickets in their second overs with the wickets of R. Ramdas (0 caught behind) and S Veerudeva (9, bowled) respectively. With Naveed proving particularly miserly with his opening spell (6-2-1-9). The opening spells ended at 12th over with a score of 31 for KK at the loss of 2 wickets. Siyapa seemed to have consolidated their position.
Siyapa didn’t relent any pressure as they brought in experienced pair of Shahid and Amir who carried on the good work of the strike bowlers. Being unlucky with a few dropped catches and some close (?) calls, they carried on the attack till the 22nd over giving away only 24 runs and in the process M Shahid getting the wicket of hard hitting A Sunjay (caught by Umer G on 15).
As KK’s captain came on the crease, Salman brought back Naveed coupled with the spin of Tanweer which worked well as Prem went away on a duck being caught by Humayun behind the stumps. Naveed proving effective as well getting the wicket of M Vallatasu. With score 86/6 in 29 overs, the game seemed to have come a full circle, KK now trying to rebuild the game. Siyapa Captain brought himself in the attack and managed 2 wickets but with KK batsmen knowing that they need to score boundaries or its all over for them, there were plenty of high risk shots and quick singles. With former Siyapa player Raza and new comer Umer panni going after the bowlers, amply helped by Siyapa fielders, with more than half a dozen dropped catches, the score moved briskly to 155/7 in the 41st over. Yet again the game seemed to have moved towards KK. With dehydration setting in, compounded by their inabaility to even hold simple catches, it seemed Siyapa couldn’t stop the procession of KK batsmen. However, the batsmen took one risk too many and Raza got run out when he challenged M Shahid who held his nerves and got him run out on 45. While Amir Siddique kept the lid on hitting, M Shahid kept attacking the wickets and with no one else managing to hold on to catches, got the last 2 wickets caught and bowled himself. Siyapa managing to win by the narrowest of margins - 5 Runs !!!!
Naveed Ahmed remained the pick of the bowlers getting 2 for 12 in his 10 overs. Amir didn’t manage a wicket but controlled the score during the onslaught of KK batsmen giving away only 25 in his 10 overs. Tanweer (1/15 in 2 overs), Salman (2/29 in 4 overs) and Asif (1/46 in 9 overs) all found themselves amongst the wickets but gave away too many runs. Credit must also go to Raza and Umer from making a game out of, what seemed like, a losing cause. The latter also making the most impact in bowling for KK as well. Clearly someone KK can build their team around.
The deficiencies in the field makes for good introspection for Siyapa, they made it harder for themselves than it needed to be. Obviously not helped with fasting on a particularly hot day. But ‘nae excuses’ are counted when the results come out and Siyapa need to try harder when they play their next game. In the end very much a game of mixed fortunes but goes on to show that ‘every little helps’ and considering the narrow margin any of the small help could have changed the result. So well done to the unsung players as well who may have saved a couple of runs that don’t appear on the scoreboard but may have made all the difference.
Next week Siyapa picks the gauntlet against the high flying Ellon Gordon, but till then Siyapa will surely enjoy this hard fought victory.