Playing the Kookas in the WSL brings back some rough memories. Last season, we played them in our opening game where they put on a mammoth 269 in 35 overs with a 150 run opening stand. We lost by 128 runs. It took me weeks of therapy to get over them running 4 runs off my fielding twice. We played them again later in the season in a nailbiter where we lost by 1 wicket as they won off the second to last ball.
So even though they are a depleted side missing some of their big guns (Percy, Pat, this weirdo left-hander who occasionally captains them), we were nervous. We knew they could run us ragged with quick singles and twos and so we brought a strong team (I know. Every team we field is a strong team. But this one was more strong)
On an unusually cold and windy day (Harshan might call it “late early season”), everyone chipped in in different ways to ensure a much needed victory. Even Sonny helped by dropping out 5 minutes after the teams were announced and creating an opportunity for Dhruv to come in and take a match defining four wickets (Take that, Bado!)
We lost the toss and it was a good toss to lose. On NYCL pitch 4 that is a hard one to bat on despite the freshly mowed grass, our all spin attack came into its own. Dhruv started strongly taking a wicket in his first over and two wickets in his second. We quickly had them 4 down for next to nothing. Harshan on the other end bowled a tight spell too although he got a lucky wicket with a hit-me delivery, caught well by Adarsh at square leg. Tom from the Kookas started to hit a few and hit a 4 and six of Amit before looping one up to long on where Nishchint took an excellent catch with the ball swirling around. Then came the Satya challenge. Despite the tricky windy conditions, Satya’s length and pace were perfectly suited for this wicket. After two tight overs, his third over resulted in 3 wickets in 4 balls, a catch to short mid-off, followed up by a bowled and a stumping. He then cleaned up the number 11 batter to end with incredible figures of 4.5-1-5-4 narrowly missing a five-for. Neil and Kush were their miserly best giving 10 and 12 runs off 4 overs respectively. James batted really well and was stranded at the other end for 31 as their innings wrapped up in the 29th over.
Chasing 92 is always a tricky job on a tough wicket but barring our initial game against the Mad Dogs, the batters have put up disciplined performances stringing partnerships and keeping the scoreboard ticking. Sujit, thankfully bats as if he has been practicing non-stop (do you have nets set up in the new place?). Andy and Sujit put up a good partnership before Andy got caught out by Jake. Andy found the scorer as malleable as the umpire as he argued for an extra run (Sujit this is why you ended up with 31 instead of 32). Nischint got out for an unlucky duck to a ball that kept really low but Adarsh came in and steadied the ship with a solid 33 not out. There weren’t enough runs to chase for Mark to cause mayhem again like last time but we wrapped up the game in the 23rd over and by 2pm.
Sitting as we are in the end of the start of the season, it feels very different from last season:
- We are not scrambling on Friday nights to find people to round out the team (what a relief!)
- We are doing the basics right – keeping things tight on the field, holding our catches, building partnerships
- In every game, different people step up and contribute
- We did a whole minute of group stretching at the start of the Kookas game and I really think it was the difference between losing and winning. Calisthenics for the win!
- We now have 91 instagram followers. This photo was liked by 20 people but then again this photo of Harshan’s backside was liked by 40 people. Last season our social media following was limited to Harshan’s parents and 4 people who thought we were associated with the stadium in Jo-burg.
We need 4-5 more wins to make the playoffs. With a little confidence, teamwork, and a coordinated approach to posting our pre-game stretching on the insta, we can do it.