Whalers vs Gentlemen of West London, King’s House Sports Ground, 9th July 2023
After their 4 game unbeaten streak was ended by Bricklayers last week, Whalers were back in home comforts of King’s House Sports Grounds for a friendly against Gentlemen of West London. Arpit, one of the mainstays of recent Whalers success, pulled out of the game the previous night. But, Suhaib, captain for the game, rescued the situation by recruiting a family member and Whalers were back to full 11, in numbers.
Game was scheduled for 1:00PM start and for a change, every Whaler was right on time. Nirmal sitting this game out perhaps helped that cause. Toss was delayed as captains decided to use a different pitch than the one that was setup and consequently, the square boundary on one of the sides needed to be moved in as well.
Regarding what he would choose to do if he wins the toss, the Whalers captain was tight-lipped even to his fellow Whalers until after the toss. Fearing a mole in the team perhaps? We will never know. He did indeed win the toss and everyone finally learned that Whalers would be fielding first. Suhaib decided to continue with his previously successful tactic of giving wily spinner Kamal the new ball who opened from the Pavillion end. Special-K did not disappoint as in his very first over, had 2 batters caught including one catch Suhaib, at mid-off made life difficult for himself by running forward before leaping back to take a good one handed catch. Sangamesh, who opened at the other end however, started off with a beamer and struggled to hit his line and lengths. He was soon replaced by Rohan who bowled 6 exact same good length deliveries for a beautiful maiden. It’s a shame pitch-map technology was not in place for this game to record that grouping. Kamal ended his spell with figures of 4-1-9-2 and Russel, who replaced him, continued where Special-K had left and dismissed their number-4 in his first over. Rohan continued to trouble batters with nagging line and lengths conceding just 4 in his first 3 overs. He was creating chances and was finally rewarded when the batter slashed at a delivery, which took the outside edge and bulleted towards Sangamesh stationed at wide-slip/gully who reverse-cupped it for a sharp reflex catch. While everyone came in to high-five Sangamesh for the catch, he just seemed relieved that he did not try to catch the ball off his nose this time.
Gentlemen were under pressure with 4 wickets down but their number 5 was showing fight, that is, until Suhaib scored a direct hit from mid-on to send him back to pavilion. Amit replaced Rohan and continued to pile on the pressure by bowling two consecutive maidens before foxing opponent’s number 7 with his trade-mark slower ball that Dean at slip held on well. He went on to finish his spell of 5 overs by picking up one more wicket and conceding just 10 in the process, excellent stuff. Raman replaced Russel at the other end, and he too picked up a wicket as Roland joined the list of good catchers on the day when he took a tumbling catch and proceeded to rest on the ground for a few seconds before getting up to celebrate. Gentlemen were already reeling at 85/8 by this time. After some slogging, another run-out by Amit and Dean clean-bowling their number 11, Gentlemen finished their innings with a score of 126.
If Whalers had a script of how the innings was supposed to go, it went almost exactly to that script. Only blows to whalers were injuries to Rohan, who pulled his hamstring and new recruit Rukshal. It has to be mentioned that Gentlemen, true to their name, provided Whalers with substitute fielders and allowed them to field 11 players for most of the innings.
With the target being so low, Whalers would get the job done without having to force their injured players onto the pitch, right? Spoiler alert, wrong! After teas and watching England close in on winning the 3rd Ashes test, players were back on the field and the chase began. Dean opened the batting as usual for Whalers and Suhaib, not finding anyone else to open, took it upon himself to open with Dean. Courage to open alone wasn’t enough, as he was dismissed in the 3rd over. Roland and Sangamesh followed Suhaib and left without troubling the scorers too much. Geoff walked in at 5, played his shots freely and raced to 21 before holing out in the deep against the run of play. Whalers were then down 60/5 when Dean, who looked solid so far was dismissed softly. Amit and Raman, next batters in, were building a steady partnership but Whalers were again halted as Raman and then Russel were both dismissed in one over to leave Whalers 77-7, target still 50 runs away.
Gentlemen surely thought they had this game in their grasps, especially with 2 of the remaining batters injured. Rohan had other ideas. He limped in despite a pulled hamstring, with Sangamesh as his runner. With Amit looking settled at the other end, the plan was to give as much strike to Amit. But Rohan’s adrenaline took over and unleashed one shot after another taking Whalers to within touching distance of the target. It appeared as though Whalers would now win the game comfortably but Amit holed out to long-on. It looked as though there might be another twist in the tale but Rohan was having none of it, hogged most of the strike, kept his calm and took Whalers over the line with a beautiful shot through the covers, one of his many on the day.
Whalers now play four games over the next two weeks including two T20s. If the game against Gentlemen was anything to go by, Whalers are well up for the busy schedule ahead!
Gentlemen – 126 all out off 29.5 overs (Kamal 2-9, Amit 2-10)
Whalers – 127/8 off 29.3 overs (Rohan 39*, Dean 25)
Whalers win by 2 wickets.
Man of the Match – Rohan for all match winning knock of 39* and 5-2-21-1 with the ball
Champagne Moment – Sangamesh’s sharp catch at gully
Muppet Moment – Suhaib’s captaincy in general. Moving the boundary, not informing the wicket keeper Geoff that we would start with a spinner, keeping the toss decision secret etc.
Match Report by Sangamesh Kalagond