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Club Records Tumble in Caltech Opener

4 February 2014 | Posted by Caltech Cricket

2/2/2014, Caltech vs. OC Lions Blue

Just a couple of months after many of us first picked up a real cricket ball for the first time, a hardy group of Caltech Beav^H^H^H^Hcricketers ventured to Mission Viejo for our first official match. It's probably fair to say that we came in with low expectations, facing a club that plays cricket every week and has been doing so for many years. But, it's a funny game sometimes, especially when you don't really know what you're supposed to be worried about. After Srikanth was able to join us at the last minute (and a spinner we won't call out by name was found roaming the streets of Pasadena), Caltech was represented by our first ever XI, as Neel, Jonathan, Ravi, Srikanth ,Gabe, David, Charles(c), Siddharth, Kishore, Harish, and Vibhor braved the ravages of Los Angeles traffic and headed south to take on a local club.

With some Lions caught up in a ground switch, Caltech opted to bowl first, under sunny skies. Lions had drafted one of the leading batsmen from their stronger White team as an opener to fill out the squad, and before he could get settled, a vicious inswinger from Harish found an inside edge onto the stumps for a dream start! We'll have to work on that celebration bit, though! Harish then cleaned up the Lions top order, and Lions had three batsmen in the shed inside the first three overs. Meanwhile, Siddharth's accurate bowling locked down the other end, with just a couple of edges beating the fielders for four. Kishore and David kept a tight lid on things, and with some slick off-side fielding from Neel and Srikanth building the pressure, the batsmen were forced to take chances. One of them found a sure-handed Ravi at gully, and then off another accurate ball from David, Ravi took a difficult running catch. Then, Vibhor's off spin trapped the new batsman in front to send Lions careening to 47-6.

Lions now sent in the big-hitting Sai, who proceeded to teach us a few lessons about field placement. As Lions built a partnership, it looked like the game might be getting away from us with two well-set batsmen in the 20s, but Kishore broke the partnership, first trapping Sai in front, then showing lightning-quick reflexes to quickly turn a drive that might have been four into a runout at the non-striker's end. And suddenly Lions were 92-8, with every possibility of being bowled out cheaply again. Let it be known that this lowly commentator wasn't responsible for the Ishant Sharma comparison!

Well, it didn't quite happen. We dropped a couple of high catches, and not easy ones at that, and when Charles finally did seam one into off stump, it was on a free hit. Gabe and Jonathan made nice plays to save boundaries, but Lions built their way to 132, before Ravi made a nice catch on the boundary off Harish, and then Harish got his club-record 5-wicket haul (off just 2.4 overs) getting the last man caught behind. Unexpectedly, we had bowled Lions out off just 17.4 overs, and since it was a friendly, they sent their top order back out for 2.2 overs of redemption. Which turned out to consist of 3 more Caltech wickets, including Vibhor clean bowled to get the wicket he had deserved earlier, Gabe finding a good length in his bowling debut, and Siddharth showing us how to hit the stumps direct from a tough angle at midwicket.

Overall, an excellent performance, period, let alone the first time many of us had ever bowled at this level. We managed a whole inning without any overthrows, scarcely any extra runs off misfields, and we kept the energy level up for the full 20 overs. It was particularly impressive that, at the end of the innings after we had been in the field for a couple of hours, Gabe was still sprinting from end to end between overs and Jonathan was still chasing hard from inside the circle trying to outrace balls to the boundary.

Yes, there were one or two things we'd like to do over, and if this commentator's going to be honest, we did do something a little like this one time: But, if we bowl and field like that on a regular basis, we're going be competitive with any university side in the country, and we should be really proud of our effort. Everybody contributed in the field, all of our bowlers created chances and most took wickets, and we look like we might get more chances to learn how to celebrate a wicket.

OC Lions 133ao (17.4 ov)
Harish 2.4-1-5-15
Siddharth 4-0-0-17
Kishore 3-0-1-28
David 3-0-2-16
Vibhor 2-0-1-36 (and an additional 1 for 7)
Charles 2-0-0-18
Ravi 1-0-0-3
(Gabe 1-0-0-9)

So, 134 to win. A challenging total, given that nobody in the team had ever chased that in 20 overs, and with the Lions opener quicker than anybody we've seen in practice. But, Neel and Jonathan trotted out to bravely take him on, and Neel scored the first run in Caltech history and added a classy boundary through gully, while Jonathan also opened his Caltech account, joining him to forge a new club record partnership for the opening wicket. Next, Ravi proceeded to give us a lesson in how to face a new ball, seeing off the openers and finding gaps for boundaries on both sides. Srikanth and Gabe attacked from the outset and provided Ravi with valuable support, running well and getting good value for their shots, but wickets started to tumble, with David marching in to join Ravi at 45-4.

Just as our new club president was getting himself in, Ravi's excellent innings came to an end, with Charles coming in at 49-5. Still just the 9th over, so plenty of time, and David and Charles proceeded to form a dangerous partnership, with Charles attacking and forcing Lions to spread the field while David picked out the gaps for quick ones and twos and kept the scoreboard ticking over. As the runs start to mount, Lions got more and more desperate, and as Caltech brought up our first-ever 50 partnership (yes, that's a club record for the 6th wicket!), with the asking rate down around a run a ball, it seemed like we might just pull out a win.

Sadly, with Caltech on 102-5, Charles' attempt at the third man boundary found a great catch by the keeper, ending a fine captain's knock just a bit too early for comfort. Siddharth strode in next, and got a real pearler first ball to send him straight back. Danny's efforts even made him the first member of the opposition to get man of the match votes from our team. Kishore then to avoid the first hattrick in club history, successfully navigated, and as he and David added valuable runs, it looked promising again.

But, it wasn't to be. Kishore middled one that on most days would have run for four and instead found an outstanding catch at square leg low and to his right, while David eventually succumbed to the asking rate, having been in the middle for about 70 runs and been the backbone of our innings and giving the pavilion a bit of a lesson in how to speak Australian. Harish and Vibhor provided one last glimmer of hope, but a sharp piece of fielding ran out Vibhor, and Caltech were all out for 121 (Lions win by 12 runs).

Caltech 121ao (18.5)
Neel bowled 5(10)
Jonathan bowled 2(6)
Ravi caught 26(20)
Srikanth lbw 3(6)
Gabe caught 3(4)
David bowled 22(32)
Charles caught behind 28(19)
Siddharth caught 0(1)
Kishore caught 0(3)
Harish not out 5*(11)
Vibhor run out 0(1)
Extras 27 (23 w, 1 b, 3 nb)

In unfamiliar conditions, with a hostile bowling attack roaring in for the first time many of us had seen, we didn't fold under the pressure, almost all of us got a start and got good value for our shots, and a couple of times when we could have collapsed for a small total, we were patient, built a partnership, and gave ourselves a chance against a team that plays under these conditions every week.

And, it should also be really encouraging that not only did we put up a great performance, but we all felt just a bit dissatisfied and eager to play again and do just that little bit better.

The voting for man of the match was a tight one, with several performances you don't see every day in a T20 all coming in our debuts. Ravi took a club record three catches at three different positions (not sure I've seen that before except for keeper or slip), and deservedly was voted our best fielder. Charles (3rd) made the top score with 28 (hey, its another club record!) off just 19 when team needed it, and David (2nd) was the backbone of our innings, along with taking a couple of critical wickets. But the man of the match, and likely the best bowling performance we'll see for quite some time, goes to Harish, with a 5-wicket haul on debut off just 2.4 overs before running out of partners to finish not out at the end of our chase. Good timing, that, with the IPL auction coming up next week!

Finally, we should thank OC Lions for organizing everything, lending us a couple of bats, and playing the match in great spirit, cheering us on when we did something well and being supportive of a new team. And, we should also really thank Desisport, who made an exceptional effort to send our team kit overnight when UPS lost the first shipment. We'll definitely be using them (Desisport, that is, not UPS) again in the future when we need to order more stuff. And if you didn't join us for this match, hopefully we'll see you on the team sheet next time!