Match 7- The day of the spinners
Siyapa went into their 7th game full of confidence, having faced-off the all-conquering Ellon in their previous game, and with their early season woes of 3 consecutive defeats behind them. With most of their previous game played while observing a 20 hour fast, this seemed a much easier task even before it started. The clubs had earlied agreed to reschedule their game on Sunday to avoid a clash with Eid festivities. Which worked well on weather front as well as the Sunday turned out to be mostly dry, unlike Saturday when quite a few games got cancelled. The game was played at Shedocksly upper, which proved to be very difficult to bat on in game 4 against Knight Riders due to the awkward bounce it offered. It turned out this wasn’t different on the day, though for a different reason altogether (clue in the title).
The visitors, Aberdeen Superkings, won the toss and put Siyapa in to bat. In the absence of regular openers, Tanweer Khan and Umer Ghafoor were promoted to the top of the order. However, Tanweer only lasted a ball, when a leg side delivery from H. Chovatia touched the glove on its way to the keeper. As has become now the norm for Siyapa, the batsman walked while umpire and bowler were trying to figure out exactly what has happened. A gesture well applauded by both the teams. The early wicket brought the captain Salman on the crease in the very first over. Not a start Siyapa were hoping for and straight away put pressure on Siyapa’s batting. The score moved slowly for the next 8 overs with Salman playing risk-free shots and Umer saving the other end for him. The strike bowlers maintaining a good line , with some help with the pitch kept the batsmen on their toes. The H. Chovatia was rewarded by another wicket in the 9th over when Umer edged a ball to the keeper. This brought in experienced Shahram to support his captain. The two batsmen negotiated the attack well, first with the strike bolwers, and then with C Aggarwal replacing H. Chovatia. Despite the occasional bounce rising from good length and heading towards the batsmen’s heads, the batsmen seemed to have got the hang of it. The score seemed to be stabilizing at 68/2 after 21 overs, and both Salman and Shahram hitting a couple of boundaries.
Probably sensing the growing comfort of the batsmen with pace, Superkings brought in the off-spin of M Bridgelal, which paid dividends in his second over(Shahram,18, caught) and third (Salman , 47 caught behind), and fourth (Khurram, 2, caught) and fifth (Kashif, 5 caught behind) (you got the idea).
Asif Yousaf and Amir Siddiq brought some control back into the game. Amir played some nice shots, but this proved more of the flicker before the flame goes out. Once he got out (copy/paste from above, bowled M Bridgelal, caught behind, 19), there wasn’t much support for Asif who kept fighting. Two more wickets fell to M Bridgelal (M Shahid caugh,t 0 and Naveed ul Husnain LBW, 0) in the very same over. Knowing he hasn’t much more time to score, Asif went after M Bridgelal and managed 2 boundaries in M Bridgelal’s next over. Naveed Ahmed, also added useful 7 runs before he was judged LBW on a H Chovatia. M Bridgelal finished with amazing figures of 7/40, while Asif remaining unbeaten on 31. Aberdeen Superkings had 152 to win their second game of the season.
Though the score was hardly high, Siyapa knew the pitch is not easy to bat on and it would not be easy to bat against Siyapa’s battery of fast bowlers. This was proven correct when both the Naveed’s started bowling. Proving difficult to negotiate with the pace and swing, the breakthough seemed inevitable and it came in a classic fast balling fashion when an out-swing from Naveed Ahmed went to the second slip and Shahram spectacularly caught it an inch above the ground. The score was 1/3 in the 5th over. As if the reminiscent of the W’s, south paw Naveed Husnain got the other opener from the other end. By the 12th over, score was 18/4 , with 2 wickets each to each Naveed. At which point the bolwers were replaced with M Shahid and Tanweer. By this point Chetan Aggarwal , the centurion from Superkings’ last game, started to break the shackles a bit and managed a couple of boundaries, but this didn’t last long. With spin proving to be the flavour of the day, he lost his wicket by getting caught by the keeper, off Tanweer. As M Shahid got an LBW of Jaipal, Tanweer managed another wicket R. Mantha (bowled, round the stumps!). After another bowled (more traditional this time), the last 2 wickets fell in classic leg spin manner, edged and caught by slip. Tanweer finishing with the figures of 5/13 and M Bridgelal remaining unbeaten on 12, it probably takes a spinner to understand one. Superkings managing a total of 65 in their innings.
As wins go, they hardly come easier than this, but Siyapa desperately needs to look at their ability to handle spin. On a positive note, some delightful catching behind the stumps on display (Shahram, Amir and Salman). The game was also played in a very friendly atmosphere which made it enjoyable regardless of the result. With Siyapa balancing their win/loss ratio now, its time to move up from here.