They say ‘catches win matches’, but as we all know from dropping sitters on a weekly basis – actually, they don’t. What does win matches though is removing the opposition batsman with some beautifully accurate bowling when getting them all out is the only realistic means of victory.
Bowling prowess enabled the Zamis to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against Kampong on Saturday, a game that the Utrecht side had been almost certain to win until their last two batsmen were removed within eight balls.
A five-wicket haul from Jatin, two from Kirk and a crucial final direct hit on the stumps from Prem ensured that Kampong did not hit the final four runs they needed for victory, with almost 10 overs still to go. We were not sure who were more surprised when they fell right at the last fence – them or us – but it did provide some sort of solace in an otherwise lackluster Zami performance.
Wides versus actually hitting it
The game started uninspiringly enough, as the opposition was quite late, rain was still falling, the Zamis lost the toss and were put into bat first. Graham and Martin opened, though they needn’t have been too concerned about hitting anything, since the first 10 runs on our scorecard came from Kampong wides. When a ball was actually struck, Graham netted a useful 11 including two fours, while Martin managed six with one boundary. Both were clean bowled; as we came to discover, Kampong had some useful pacers, led by the legendary Mr Butt, who certainly kicked a few of ours.
Jatin came in but was out for nought after eight balls on an LBW call, and with the Kampong wides and byes rate exceeding our own run rate, Sander came in to set a captainly example, scoring 16 off 16 balls before being caught. Kampong’s Butt wasted little time in dispatching Marek for eight and Prem for nought, but was denied a hat-trick by Kirk, who managed one run before he too was relieved of his duties in the following over.
Enter the star of the batting show, Kaushal, who achieved the Zamis’ high score of 20 on 20 balls, matching Sander’s 100% strike rate, ending the game not out. Dinesh managed seven before falling to an LBW call on Butt’s bowling. We questioned whether their demon bowler had by now had all his regulation seven overs, but unfortunately for us, there had been a mix-up, and he still had some left.
At the water break, the Zamis were still only in double figures on 94 for eight – much of which was their wides. And so it was time for the “big guns” to enter the fray, the 50-somethings John and Frits. John was ordered to “just stay in” but only managed three balls against the fearsome Mr Butt before being clean bowled. Frits was more obedient, managing to survive for 15 balls in a final partnership with Kaushal, before a catch ending his and our innings.
Time for a superb sandwich and pasta lunch kindly supplied by Frits before facing the job in hand of keeping their run rate low enough to eke out a victory. The first scalp came quite quickly enough when their No. 2 batsman was dismissed on an LBW on a ball from Kaushal for just one run. But then they dug in, their opening batsman knocking four boundaries on his way to their team’s high individual score of 26 and their No. 3 achieving another four boundaries that brought 16 of his 19 runs.
The Kampong middle order dragged things out a bit, suiting our needs to restrict their run rate, with Dinesh, Kaushal and Prem bowling maiden over to keep them wanting. However, the formidable Mr Butt came back to taunt us with two handsome boundaries and a tally of 11, while the following two batsmen got another ten apiece. By the water break, Kampong were on 93 with four batsmen left, knowing that some plodding would get them through.
There was some initial hope when Prem caught their eighth man on a ball from Marek, leaving their final three batsmen needing 16 runs to win with 16 overs to go. Even John can manage that sort of run rate. Hopes were dashed though when their penultimate two batsmen scored a boundary apiece, leaving a deficit of just five runs. A wide narrowed it to four – one solid strike and it’s all over. Although no one will ever admit this, we were quietly looking forward to the early beer that a short game does at least bring.
You bowling beauties
And then our bowlers weaved their magic. Knowing that our only hope was to get the last two out – and quickly – Jatin dismissed their No. 9 with an LBW. It was certainly squeaky bum time for the fielders; nobody now wants to drop a catch or miss a ball that then makes the boundary and then face social death for the rest of the season. Oh puleeze, bowlers, end our misery!
And so it took the coolest of composure from Prem, in the 26th over, to clean bowl their 10th man, leaving us relieved, exhilarated, amazed, gobsmacked and any other adjective you can think of. The Zamis had won against all the odds by three runs, with both sides all out.
John and Frits were dispatched to offer consolation drinks to Kampong for a third innings in which the somewhat stunned opposition were very good humoured, in the true spirit of the game. Certainly, we congratulated their bowlers for their own sterling work. In the end though, it was our bowlers who turned the game.