A WIN FROM NOWHERE
Deadly delivers dramatic denouement
Bottisham & Lode (6pts) 155 lost to Camden (20pts) 162-7 by 7 runs
The twentieth over, bowled by Karan, had been a wicket maiden, but there was no sense that Bottisham & Lode – 124-5 in pursuit of Camden’s 162-7 – had this match anywhere other than in the bag. There seemed little point in stopping for drinks, and the resumption did little to alter this perception. Six from the first ball, sixteen in all from the over. 23 to win. Only a matter of time. But we’ll get to that.
Friday’s rain had turned to Saturday’s wind, and there was no doubt that it was a bowl-first pitch at picturesque Swaffham Bulbeck. The returning Captain Redfern responded to losing the toss by promoting Vish to open with Sutton. The grassless pitch – part dust, part mud – wasn’t so much two-paced as multi-paced, but the visiting openers were equal to the challenge. Until Vish (13) was pinned LBW, that is. Redders (3) didn’t last long, lofting a drive straight to a deepish mid off. The skipper’s protestations that it was “the only shot I could play” fell on deaf ears. Prathyush joined Sutton, and the pair went about rebuilding the innings. Prathyush hit an effortless straight six, but boundaries were otherwise hard to come by. With 68-3 on the board, the drinks break coincided with the arrival of horizontal rain. The storm blew over soon enough, but – despite the pitch being covered – it had left its mark. The hundred eventually came up in the twenty-ninth over, but a partnership of 63 was ended next ball – Sutton yorked for a patient 39. Robinson (11) hit a downwind six – adding 32 with Prathyush. Krishna’s selfless 12 was ended by a run out, before Ritish was caught and bowled for a duck, and Prathyush was well caught on the long-on boundary for an excellent 44 – the stylish right-hander’s highest score for the Thirds. Kelsall (6 not out, still to be dismissed this season) and Hodsdon (5 not out) scrambled the visitors to what was, according to Captain Redfern, a “middling score” at the cake break.
Defending a similar total in the recent reverse fixture, Camden took just three wickets as Bott-Lode strolled to victory. Here, the Thirds had as many wickets by the end of the fifth over. Tarun had seen Prathyush drop an absolute sitter in his first over, but returned to remove both openers in his next. The first was a sharp caught and bowled chance, while the second wouldn’t have looked out of place at a higher level – Tarun (2-24) finding the shoulder of the bat, Robinson pouching the catch in the gully. Kelsall (1-38) picked up a wicket in the next over – Krishna with the catch – but 29-3 had become 100-3 by the time the bustling education executive was replaced by Krishna. The leg-spinner struck first ball – LBW – but the wicket did little to stem the flow of runs. Even the usually parsimonious Karan was struggling – the off-spinner conceding 40 from his first five overs. A wicket in his next, Bott-Lode’s number four caught in the deep by Krishna for a brutal 60, felt like the equivalent of a consolation goal.
Drinks. Six. Sixteen from the over. 23 to win. With five wickets in hand. A position from which the Thirds certainly could lose, but was it a position from which they could win? “Five balls,” said Hodders, tongue firmly in cheek. “Four balls.” “Three balls.” Karan on a hat-trick, the game suddenly on a knife edge. The hat-trick ball was a leg-side bye, but it brought Bott-Lode’s number five – on 28 from seventeen balls – into Karan ‘Deadly’ Derekar’s crosshairs. “Two balls!” Tongue no longer in cheek. Three wickets in the over, all bowled. And Karan wasn’t finished. Neither were the home side. 8 from the next over, bowled by Krishna (1-42), meant that ten was needed when Karan began his eighth and final over. Dot ball. One run. One run. “One ball!” A five-for, another one bowled, a fourth in seven balls. Mic drop. With Karan (5-46) having two balls of his mesmerising spell left, the rational thing would have been to see him off. But rationality goes out of the window at times like these. What happened next would have made sense if Bott-Lode had needed one run off the final ball of the match – if it really was one ball – but they had 98 balls to get the required 8 to win. And there was never a run. The ball barely made it the bowler’s end. Karan and Hodders kept their heads to effect the run out. A fifth wicket in seventeen balls. From nowhere, the Thirds had snatched an improbable and dramatic victory. From nowhere, Sutton Sr – shrugging off a bad back – was out in the middle, dishing out the high fives. Scenes, as they say.
Man of the Match: Karan Derekar