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Milan C.C. vs. Settimo C.C. 9 May 2010
Match photos 9 May

The story so far – in the inaugural Lombardy League tournament  (which pits five teams against each other ) Milan are in a commanding position : 3 victories so far with just Settimo c.c. standing between them and a clean sweep so motivation should not be in question – and one or two batsmen certainly have something to prove !!!

With a seemingly benevolent meteorological outlook Milan nonchalantly won the toss and decided to bat – a good start absolutely crucial......  and that is exactly what we got – Craig and Stephen both played very sensibly and calmly, and although the ball did not come on to the bat (one day could someone explain to me exactly what this means?) they both waited without succumbing to panic and rash strokes – easy does it, boys ! At the end of the 10th over Milan were on 43 without loss with none of the first 4 Settimo bowlers able to make inroads – I have seen more prolific starts against similarly toothless bowling but Craig, to his credit, has always been an advocate of “batting the overs out” – clearly runs were available : not only were the majority of the Settimo fielders visibly unfit but those wides were starting to accumulate .........

50 on the board, now, after 11 overs with only a handful of boundaries but all was well with the world, and, oh, what a joy to see that strange round yellow thing in the sky (its name temporarily escapes me – it’s been a while) after all the rain in the run-up to the weekend.

More bowling changes, no discernible difference. And both batsmen looking very comfortable.

.... and then in the 15th over Settimo fluffed their first real chance – Stephen, on 18, edged the ball to 1st slip who, having got both hands on the ball to parry it, then contrived to drop it. What would that cost?

Milan made it to drinks in the 17th over: 67 for 0.

So : with the somewhat suspect bowling (watch those straight arms, boys !) unable to make the openers break sweat, the initiative was firmly with the batsmen :  what strategy to pursue ? Hit out, lose a few wickets in the process and post a virtually unobtainable target of 200+,  or carry on as before ?  

They carried on as before - a run here, a run there: unflustered, unhurried and supremely relaxed. And where, oh where, was a wicket going to come from ? Seven bowlers used, little or no noise encouraging from anyone in the field: Settimo spirits were drooping: hands on hips and heads down. 

88 for no loss after 20 overs – fine work by the openers: a lesson in how to build a platform. 

And then FINALLY a breakthrough - Stephen was bowled for 31– I would venture to say (tho’ he may well disagree) that his score was actually less important than the fact that he batted out more than half the allotted overs: not often you see that. Score now 107 for 1 off 24: Craig reached his 50 up with a cleanly hit shot through a flailing fielder at square leg and was then promptly dropped on the boundary by Bob at deep mid wicket.

The batsmen now stepped up a gear and meted out the treatment to the largely ineffectual bowling: how’s this for the next over ?! : 4 + 6 + 6 + 1 + 1 = score 125 for 1 off 25 overs, then 157 for 1 off 28 overs: runs flowing, the fielders looking very uninspired and Milan in imperious form – Settimo adrift with no clear leadership – where would this end?

172 off 29, 180 off 31 – and then Craig was bowled on 94! Sunil followed shortly, bowled for 28 - and then something of a collapse followed as the incoming batsmen were under self-inflicted psychological pressure to push the score on to the magical 200 – but we finished on 191 for 6 – Sandeep pick of the bowlers with 3 for 26.

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Next bit is done for memory as Milan’s efforts in the field were not documented – a big ask, 192 to win. And I will go on record as saying that I don’t think Settimo really believed they’d do it – certainly the run rate was below the required rate from the word go, and the range of shots on display certainly wasn’t going to win any awards : plenty of bashing ( 2 catches put down in the first over !! ) but not much beauty: and so Milan just had to go about the task of getting line and length right – Atul, pick of the bunch, bowled a fine set of overs and picked up 4 wickets with contributions from Jack, Nareng, Will and Nand – the score limped along, and by the time Settimo reached the 10th over they had already lost 3 wickets for a paltry 25 runs -  by the half way stage they were 68 for 6 and so it was obviously going to be a complet...... hang on –what’s this ? RAIN! Oh no – the game struggled on, and Milan got their eighth victim with the score on 80 but it was turning into a miserable affair and the game was abandoned, points shared. 

Milan thus finish with 3 wins and a draw, making for a total of 7 points – and so are the Lombardy League 2010 champions, the other pretenders having all lost at least one game. 

It was encouraging to see Milan bat out the overs again but one burning question remains: exactly when is Gino going to open up the bar?