Khalil the one-handed wonder helps give Whalers win at the death

Sunday 27th July 2014
Whalers bt Highgate Taverners by 6 runs

A scorching hot day in Chiswick welcomed the stand-in opposition of Highgate Taverners, after Beamers had been forced to pull out a couple of days before. Captain Osgood won the toss and had no hesitation in giving Kev and Pip instructions to pad up.
Despite a wayward first over, the Taverners opening bowlers soon found their range and Pip and no. 3 Channa were soon back from whence they came, leaving the Whalers on 9-2. At the other end, the ever-more injury-prone Kev was making a watchful and cautious start. VDP’s season debut innings produced a couple of nice shots before he cut one in the air to backward point with the score still only 28. However, when Kev was joined by the scampering Stu, the shackles began to come off and both batsmen quickly looked very comfortable on what was essentially a very good batting wicket. There were some lovely drives from Kev in particular, while Stu vigorously cut and pulled anything short, easing the ball into the gaps and pushing Kev’s fragmented body into some swift running to rotate the strike. The pair built a solid recovery and accelerated the scoring to help the Whalers reach 103-3 after the first 20 overs. However, just when well-set, Stu’s lofted drive off Starkings could only find the mid-off fielder, and he had to depart for a well-made 30.

With the slower change bowlers finding the pitch pretty unforgiving, JT was able to stride out to the middle with some confidence and he was soon unleashing some typical dragon-slayer’s-apprentice-style shots, taking a special liking to the off-spinner. However, the return of Godal to the Highgate attack, in a tighter second spell, ensured that the slaying did not reach massacre-proportions by bowling JT for 27.

Kev meanwhile had passed 50, despite all the ailments afflicting him, and unleashed a particularly pleasing straight six off Purloe. Runs continued to flow and helpfully aggressive cameos from No. 7 James Gould (18) and Dan (9 not out) helped get Kev to another fine hundred and the Whalers to the heady heights of 218-6 from their 35 overs. Excellent effort from Kev who finished on 102 not out and highly valuable support work from the middle order meant that the Whalers could reflect on a well-built total as they tucked into their sandwiches and multiple glasses of squash (or Desperado in Kev’s case).

The Whalers took the field knowing that despite a hefty total on the board, the kindness of the pitch meant that much was still to be done in the bowling, catching and chasing departments.

Khalil and out-of-retirement opening bowler James Gould made a fine, tight start, giving the opening pair of Starkings and Stubbs very little to hit. Although every tight over placed greater run-rate pressure on the Taverners, there was always the feeling that if the batsmen got in, the 218 total would be very achievable. Gradually, the runs started flowing and neither Khalil nor Gouldy could make the breakthrough in their opening spell, despite bowling well and they were replaced by Kamal and Pip. Kamal quickly made an impact with Starkings patting a full toss straight to Khalil at short mid-wicket. Pip came on at the other end to bowl to his former Bristol University team-mate Phil Stubbs in a mini-duel within the game. Despite turning one past Stubbs’s outside edge and off stump first ball, the latter was well-set and took the attack to his former Captain, with Quinn doing much the same to Kamal at the other end. There were not enough balls in the right area and both bowlers were going for seven per over, against increasingly comfortable-looking batsmen.

Captain Osgood rotated the bowlers again, bringing himself and Stu on but Stubbs and Quinn were looking very strong now, with Quinn looking especially good at the crease. There was an almighty straight six off Stu and a number of other crashing drives to take the score past 150-1 with plenty of overs left. JT’s solitary over went for sixteen and the game was slipping away quickly. Badly in need of a breakthrough, Dan turned to Khalil and Gouldy and it didn’t take too long before the Whalers were handed a lifeline, as the dangerously fluent Quinn worked Gould off his legs only for Khalil at square leg to swoop and dive forward to take the catch one-handed. A moment of magic had opened the door, and another moment soon followed, arguably even better than the first. New batsmen Thompson, trying to force the pace and keep up with the required run-rate, smacked a full ball from Khalil high to the bowler’s right hand side, but with the same golden hand that had snaffled the previous catch, he again reached out and instinctively pouched the ball again. 3 catches for Khalil and a post-match jug of lemonade was beckoning.

The two quick wickets and dipping run rate were enough to put the jitters into the Taverners line-up and in the same over, Khalil had another wicket, bowling new batsman Beckett Jnr.

Having committed Khalil and Gould to the attack before the death, Dan then needed some tight overs at the end from elsewhere and so he brought himself on at one end and handed the ball back to Pip to bowl some rarely-seen medium pace at the other end. After a few dot balls at his old mate Stubbs, the pressure told and after a fine innings of 72, Stubbs failed to get hold of a very hit-able full toss and looped it back to Pip.

With 2 new batsmen at the crease and a run-rate of pushing 12-an-over for the last 3 overs, this was suddenly a very different game. The Whalers held their nerve, with Dan bowling especially tightly at the death, supported by some strong ground fielding, the Whalers rescued a 6-run win from a losing position.

Overall, a fine team performance, with special plaudits for Kev for a battling century and Khalil for, quite literally, snatching victory out of the bag and happily returning the Whale to winning ways.

Resullt: Whalers beat Highgate Taverners by 6 runs

Champagne: Khalil’s second one-handed catch off own bowling (with honourable mention for his other one-handed catch)

Muppet: Dan – only asking the team for 100 effort.

Man of the Match: Kev – 102*; honourable mention to Khalil for 2 wickets and 3 catches