Arslan 85 (Intesar 24, Razi 2/19) lost to Blitz 113/4 (Puneet 62*, Jigar 18)
Just like the Deccan Chargers Vs Mumbai Indians match, we had a so called "away" game at Braly Park, Sunnyvale. Adi won the toss, elected to bat first and it was me and Puneet opening for Blitz after a long time. Statistics did not favor us to have a decent opening stand, and it looked if history will repeat itself when we were just 8 runs at the end of 4 overs, struggling to find gaps.
I wont say the bowling was exceptional, it was two players trying to get back in form. Message came from the dug out to try up the scoring rate in next few overs, which I felt would fall flat, when i saw the opposition captain throwing ball to a spinner.
I had read sometime back on cricinfo that a Twenty20 match can be won in ten minutes of violent batting or inspired bowling. Fortunately it was former, and it took just one over for a complete momentum shift in our favor. Puneet smashed the spinner for a six of a no ball between long on and mid wicket boundary and I helped myself with a 4 to the square leg boundary. We picked him for 18 runs in that over, boosting the run rate and most importantly our confidence.
Sensible cricket backed up with some aggressive running in the following 5 overs, ensured we had a decent total at the end of 10 overs and a platform set for the hitters to come and blaze the opposition away. Scorecard read - 46/0 at the break of 10 overs.
We achieved a 50 run opening stand in the very next over after the break, i did not know in morning when i jokingly told puneet that let's have a 50 run partnership today would actually be reality in matter of few hours. Maybe, I should have joked about a 50 for myself too :D.
I got out the very next over bowled behind my legs, trying to play the ball fine, scoring 18 runs and we were 12 overs 50/1.
Mahendra was the next man in, he looked solid and extremely confident. He hit a brilliant shot bisecting the gully and point region for a double. Unfortunately he slipped and both the batsmen were at the non-strikers end. Mahi being a great team man sacrificed his wicket for the set batsman, before trying a valiant dive to make it at the strikers end.
In came Sriram, sensibly nudging the ball in gaps to take singles and handing over the strike to Puneet. I think watching some brilliant strokes played at the other end inspired Sriram to take on the bowlers, unfortunately top edging the ball for a simple catch to the keeper.
Montu was the next to follow, with last 5 overs remaining, there was only one way to bat from there on. He went for his shots but was taken by a brilliant catch in the deep.
There was a change in strategy and Satish was sent in to partially stabilize the fall of wickets and at the same time keep ticking singles and give the strike to Puneet.
Admist all these wickets and sensible batting, Puneet was playing his game at different level. Already in 4th gear by then he smashed couple of sixes before hitting a four at the mid-off boundary to bring up his fifty.
He followed up his fifty with a huge six at the mid off boundary in the next over. It was the biggest six i have seen in cricbay, we even had to replace the ball as the game ball was lost somewhere in the bushes near the wall.
We ended our innings at a score of 113/4, which meant two records were set;
one being the highest score for Blitz in its 21/2 - 3 year history. And the second being the highest individual score by a batsman for Blitz by Puneet 62* (68) surpassing Barry's heroic efforts of 50*(31) against RCPC to get us into pre-quarters of Gold Cup 2009 summer season.
It was going to be an uphill task for the opposition to chase this big score. It was required from their openers to build a partnership and put some pressure on our bowling attack.
It was an early setback for Arslan as Mahi found timber in the 1st over sending the captain of the opposition team for a duck. There were moments of brilliance in bowling department between some mediocre bowling. There were one to many extras bowled and part timers were taken apart by their batsman.
114 was always going to be difficult to chase and Arslan never looked if they will ever come close to winning, but in my opinion they scoring 85 runs with only 9 batsman was a little on a higher side. Some good teams, with decent batting could have come really close to give us a scare.
We can argue that our regular bowlers would have lifted themselves for the occasion, but I would like to take our part time bowling with a pinch of salt and as an area for improvement as far as discipline is concerned. There is nothing more exciting on the field than to see batsman struggle against some fiery bowling! (obviously this sight is pleasant when i am not batting!! ;) )
But there were plenty of positives which came out from this game, besides the batting.
Akshay was brilliant behind the wickets, collected everything cleanly and was always behind the stumps waiting for a throw. Good ground fielding, great catching (except couple of hiccups, which will be reflected in the point system :D) and an amazing run out by Vinay to seal the game in our favor.