MILAN CRICKET CLUB
|INTRODUCTION FIXTURES NEWS TEAM GROUND CONTACTS|
Day 0 : Thursday – An inauspicious start : although all the bags made it, we were immediately informed on deplaning that 3 players would not be joining the tour. Not the first time that players have dropped out at the last minute, but a large squad is essential here, given that we have 3 games in 3 days ( quick question : so when I’m out can I say that I have debatted ? ). Anyway - the show must go on.
Act I : Friday April 1st : 20/20 vs Marsa CC
Breezy, hot and well cut – and that’s enough about last night’s barmaid – a gloriously sunny day greeted us : the ground was, I’m told, in relatively good shape – mostly green with a few bare patches of earth in the outfield. Milan on time ( funny that the further we travel, the more punctual we are ! ) So for those about to play, we salute you -hail the intrepid Bhupi, Vijay, Sunil, Sonu, Vicky, Yogesh, Nand, Ramesh, Jonathan, Ross, Jack, David, Eric and Gautam.
Marsa won the toss and elected to bat. First over : fabulous – great bowling by Yogesh : the batsmen couldn’t get a bat on anything – second over : batsmen still couldn’t get a bat on anything as Sunil bowled 4 wides ! Worth pointing out here that Marsa are a strongish outfit that get to play 90 odd matches a year – this was Milan’s first / second game for some - and Marsa had said they needed some 20/20 practice so were we going to be the whipping boys ?
Milan settled to the task and never let the Marsa No. 1 get his eye in – and in the 4th over Sunil bowled him for 5 ! But despite this initial success still there was a niggling feeling that although Milan weren’t playing badly they were a bit asleep in the field and so not excelling , and with Marsa playing in a very unhurried way runs were added – a few wides here and there, sloppy gathering of the ball, and the partnership of 50 could have been curtailed with both a catch and 2 possible run outs not being taken. Marsa went from 15 for 1 off 6 to 65 for 2 off 11 ( opener Ghoseroy bowled by Sonu for 26 ) - the next 4 overs produced 37 runs for the cost of a wicket : so now Marsa were 90 for 3 off 15 overs –Khosla, having hit Jack for 6 over deep mid wicket, attempted to repeat the same shot the next ball but didn’t account for the bounce and was well caught by Vicky on the boundary for 30. Marsa went on to flex their batting muscles for the last 5 overs and although losing 1 more wicket ( dangerman Caruana caught and bowled by Sunil for 8 ) added another 50 odd runs to finish on 146 for 4.
We are often told that “Impossible is nothing”, so here goes.....
Although Ramesh was LBW for 1 in the 3rd over with the score on just 5, Milan signalled their intent by keeping the scoring rate consistently above Marsa’s : Sonu and incoming batsman Bhupi put on 76 before Bhupi was bowled in the 12th over for 28 with the score on 81 – plenty of batting to come, so no reason to worry, eh boys ? And Marsa were 69 for 2 at this stage..... Sonu reached his 50 with an unhurried display of confident strokes which had Marsa scratching their heads wondering how they were going to save the game. Sunil was getting in on the act and carried on where Bhupi had left off, and together they added 42 with some glorious shots including several straight drives ... and then Marsa got wise to this and repositioned their fielders : from 121 for 2 ( needing just 26 to win ! ) Milan slumped to 128 for 5 by the end of the 18th over as Sonu, then Sunil and then Gautam were all caught for 60, 21 and 0 respectively, all going for the big shots where a plenty of risk-free singles and twos were available. 12 balls to go, 19 still needed with 5 wickets in hand – but no time for the batsmen to play themselves in : the end of the 19th over saw Milan stagger to 131 for 7, Vicky caught for 7 and Ross bowled for 3, and Nand and Jonathan could only see out the final over to close the innings on 135 for 7, 12 runs short of a victory which was very definitely within Milan’s grasp. What a shame.
Act II : Saturday April 2nd : 40 overs vs Marsa CC
After yesterday’s unnecessary defeat, imperative to strike back – but a 40 over game in hot weather so early in the season ? Hmmm. the toss was lost, Marsa decided to field – a lot resting on openers Bhupi and Sonu, all of us hoping that Sonu could put together two consecutive “big” scores – Alas : not to be ! A tame shot in the 7th over presented cover with a simple catch saw Sonu back in the pavilion with just 11 runs to his name – Nand was in and out in the next over without scoring, being given out less than convincingly for having presented a bump ball catch to gully
( was the lure of the world Cup final between Sri Lanka and India being shown live in the pavilion just too much ?? ). So Milan are 38 for 2 in the 8th. Bhupi, however, was getting to grips with the task, crafting the start of a stylish innings, and was now joined by Gautam – Milan urgently needed to rebuild, and a partnership of 28 took them laboriously to 87 when the 3rd wicket was lost, Gautam LBW for 19 – twenty overs now gone, but Bhupi still toiling away magnificently in the afternoon sun. Sunil partnered Bhupi for a stand of 40, moving the score on to 127 for 4 when Sunil was caught behind in the 27th over, Milan now nearing its own batting tail and still needing a lot of runs.
A collapse seemed well on the cards as Bhupi was stumped by the ever-alert Marsa keeper for 71 in the 30th over – a fine innings of real class, but Milan with just 135 for 5 on the board : who could they look to now ? Apparently not Jonathan, who, the umpire later recounted, was actually out LBW before even scoring – but nobody appealed !! Jonathan and Ramesh went into “tail wagging” mode and added 34 for the next wicket ( Ramesh caught for 11 ) – the last great hope was Vicky, but he lasted a matter of minutes before being bowled for 3 – Yogesh was tragically run out for 2 as non-striker as Jonathan went for a daft run ( exactly the same was to happen to Yogesh in the final match ! ), and once Jonathan had used up a fair few of his 9 lives for a score of 24 Vijay and Jack saw the last over out, Milan finishing with a probably insufficient total of 191 for 9.
Marsa again started off in an unhurried fashion, keeper-turned-opener Grima playing a very tight / controlled innings, but although the other opener Borg looked anything but comfortable it took until the 10th over to remove him LBW, the first of Sonu’s 4 victims - and by this stage Milan had already started putting down a plethora of catches ( more about this later ! Try guessing how many we dropped ... ) – from the other end Nand worked hard to restrict the batsmen, getting scant reward for some good, tidy bowling ( 1 for 11 off 6 in his first spell ) – In the field, however, Milan were certainly not doing themselves any favours – catch after catch going down, and some decidedly shabby fielding suggested that a Marsa victory was on the cards – but although Grima continued to build a score he could only watch as the rest of his team came and went for just single figure scores (8,5,6, and 4 respectively) thanks to some astute spin bowling by the pacemen, Sonu and Sunil. the wickets fell, and more importantly the required run rate was forever climbing upwards. from 59 for 1 in the 13th Marsa went to 78 for 3 in the 20th, 95 for 4 in the 25th and 103 for 5 in the 30th, the spin bowling proving particularly effective – more than a dozen overs passed without a boundary being scored ! But it wasn’t over yet – the Marsa strongmen Grima and Caruana were at the crease – break this partnership, boys, and you should be in with a chance ! The trap was set, and finally a catch stuck !!!!!!! Vijay catching Caruana at backward square leg for just 4 – the game swung inexorably Milan’s way, and once Grima was bowled by Yogesh for a laudable 59, Marsa were looking at a RRR of almost double figures with nobody left to get them – Milan jauntily continued to put down the catches ( seven in total ) but some eventually stuck – well done Vicky for taking two in one over at deep mid on. the Marsa innings petered out on 147 for 9 at the end of the 40th, leaving Milan victors by a surprisingly big margin of 44 runs. Credit to the bowlers who pinned back the batsmen at the vital part of the match. Most then piled into the pavilion to see India finish off Sri Lanka, while others made their way to the many local bars that jut out along the sea front for mounds of fun watching the Milan derby.
Act III : Sunday April 3rd : 35 overs vs Marsa CC
Despite the officious gatekeeper’s increasingly aggressive tones (we went from “Good morning Sirs” to “You can’t come in today” and finally to “ How come you got in yesterday?” ) Milan were only 5 minutes late today ! Missing Bhupi ( Sunday return flight ) and Sunil ( family duties ), a gentlemen’s agreement allowed Milan to bat first ( maybe India + Sri Lanka should do this ?) – and in the face of some indifferent bowling ( Marsa bowled their first maiden in the 27th over !) openers Ross and Ramesh made a start. But in the 8th over a nanosecond cost Ramesh his wicket, run out for 14 going for a rather unnecessary 3rd run. David made his 2011 Malta debut but blink and you’ll miss him – he retired injured an over later. In the 10th over Ross was caught at midwicket for 16 : Milan 39 for 2, an arguably disappointing total given the less-than-hostile bowling. The 13th over saw Yogesh run out in a carbon copy of his fate yesterday, Nand the perpetrator this time, and absolutely no need to go for risky singles at this stage of the game. Two daft run outs to their name, just 48 on the board, Milan really needing a partnership to move things along. Three followed : Nand and Vicky put on 26, Vicky and Sonu put on 39 and then Sonu and Gautam put on 54 to put a much better complexion – in the 30th over Milan were 164 for 8, Nand, Vicky, Sonu and Gautam scoring 12,35,59and 25* respectively, the bowling being anything but restrictive throughout. The tail wagged just a bit to leave Milan on a neat 200 for 9 – pleasing to note that for the 3rd consecutive innings Milan had batted out the overs ( are you reading this Craig ? ),m today bizarrely scoring more than they did yesterday with fewer overs available.
Marsa seemed keen to end the weekend on a high, but the Milan bowlers started in earnest – the scorebook doesn’t record the dynamics of the bowling, but both openers were out for 2 runs apiece, and for the first half of the innings the run rate and the required run rate rarely got close enough to shake hands – but the dangermen were to be found mid order, and Nand’s getting the Marsa No. 4 caught at deep mid wicket by Sonu meant that two pretty competent batsmen were in, both well capable of saving the day. Yet in spite of more catches going down ( 4 today !), the bowlers never let up, and despite a few moments of run-gathering Marsa struggled all along – dangerman Ghoseroy was bowled by Gautam for 46, and both elements of the heavyweight combo eventually went for 31 and 29, by which time the sporadic courtship between the RR and the RRR was very definitely off, the RRR continually climbing from about the 28th over – and in spite of a few sporadic blows the Marsa tail came and went to leave Milan winners by 49 runs. Again compliments to all the bowlers who worked tirelessly to pin the batsmen down.
Below you will
find the bare bones of who accomplished what with bat and ball – thanks to all
of you who ventured down to Malta ( especially Eric – a long way to come for a
golden duck !) , and a special thanks to David for setting the trip up.