The weather was near perfect for cricket at Links where 2nd Mannofield entertained 2nd Grammar FPs in a Grade 3 match.
Grammar were aware of the fact that the previous weekend Mannofield have beaten a strong Academy side chasing 200+ and with plenty of 2nd team regulars away for a successive second week, it was a challenging task for the selection committee to choose a strong side. The chosen XI comprised of Magesh Devendran (c), Doug Russell, Elia Gubbala, Guru Thangamani, Jim Lee (wkt), John Lord, Kieran Whyte, Mahesh Narayanan, Naga Chaitanya, schoolboys Raja Monnapillai and Rutwik Hedge.
With the Grammar skipper running late collecting the new keeper gloves, Whyte went to the middle for the toss, he lost but Mannofield opted to bat first giving Grammar the preferred outcome anyway. After a quick team warm-up led by the returned Lord of Tunisia, Grammar took on the field and opened with Whyte from the Inversneckie Cafe end and Narayanan from the Pittodrie Pie end who unfortunately had to bowl into the wind, with Brereton and Sudhakar opening the batting for Mannofield.
Whyte quickly found his usual line and started off with a maiden over. But it was Narayanan who was the first to strike for Grammar bowling Brereton comprehensively for 4 (1×4) with the last ball of his first over, having conceded a boundary off the previous ball. And in his next over, he struck again tempting Elliot (0) to drive in the air and the batsman was caught comfortably by Russell at short cover.
2nd Mannofield 8 for 2 after 4 overs; a perfect start for Grammar.
With the wind behind him, Whyte brought more disaster for Mannofield in his 4th over. First he bowled Findlay (0) in his 3rd ball with a beautiful out swinger and then got Razzaq 0 and Awan 0 both adjudged LBW in the last two deliveries of that over. In his next over, Grammar’s field closed in for the hat-trick ball which was well negotiated by Herd, only to be bowled in the next delivery for a duck. 2nd Mannofield 23 for 6 in 10 overs.
Sudhakar (19, 3×4) was batting well at the other end, patiently defending the good balls and punishing the rare bad ones. But with fear of running out of partners, he decided to attack the accurate Whyte only to mistime a shot to point where one of the best fielders in Grammar Thangamani was waiting to take a stunning catch ending Mannofield’s hope for a big score.
Narayanan, who boldly agreed to bowl 6 overs into the strong wind, was given a much deserved break and was replaced by Russell. In his 2nd over, Russell bowled Lumsden 5 (1×4) and Whyte at the other end cleaned up the tail picking up wickets of Zanre for 2 and Cameron also for 2 courtesy of good catches from Hedge and Narayanan. 2nd Mannofield – 40 all out in 16 overs.
Grammar bowling figures: Whyte 9-4-7-7, Narayanan 6-1-19-2 and Russell 2-0-8-1.
After a good tea, Grammar opened the batting with its future stars Hedge and Monnapillai. Both started playing their shots straight away against Mannofield’s opening bowlers Clark and Awan, especially Hedge sweeping the latter for a boundary.
In Awan’s 2nd over, Monnapillai 6 (1×4) drove him beautifully through the covers for a confident four but was caught off the same bowler when he mistimed a pull. 2nd Grammar 16 for 1 in 4 overs.
The experienced Lord was sent in next to show his younger partner how to defend good balls. Hedge was quick to learn and started playing more cautiously. As they rotated the strike cleverly scoring whenever the opportunity came, the partnership lasted for another 7 overs. Then Clark got Mannofield a much needed breakthrough when Hedge 11 (1×4) tried to pull him only to be caught at square leg. Lord 6 (1×4) was next to go adjudged LBW.
Mannofield’s emerging spinner Koppolu replaced Awan. Lee seemed to be in an aggressive mood and pulled him for a maximum. But the bowler had the last laugh when he cleverly flighted up a delivery inviting Lee 6 (1×6) to sweep and produced a top edge which was comfortably taken by the square leg fielder. Whyte went in and came out quickly without disturbing the scoreboard too often, once to be precise. 2nd Grammar 36 for 5 in 15 overs.
Mannofield were charged up in the field and sensed a close finish. Having lost 5 wickets already, Grammar sent in Thangamani to end the chase. It took him only two balls to get his eye in. After which he drove Koppolu for a straight boundary and in the very next ball, in his usual style finished things off by pulling him for a 6 to give Grammar a well-deserved victory, Guru ending 11 n.o. (1×4, 1×6). Elia Gubbala remained not out 2.
Mannofield bowling figures: Clark 8-3-11-2, Awan 6-2-16-2 and Koppolu 2-0-18-1.
Whyte and Narayanan have jointly raised Grammar’s bowling standard which needs to be maintained in future games for Grammar to get promoted to Grade 2. This excellent bowling effort was well backed up by their team mates who threw themselves about in the field and took every single catch offered by Mannofield batsmen.
Thanks to 2nd Mannofield for being an excellent host and playing the game in good spirit. Next game at home against the experienced Crathie.
Man of the Match: Kieran Whyte for putting in the best bowling performance for this season so far with 7 wickets for 7 runs.
Champagne Moment: Guru Thangamani’s stunning catch to get rid of Sudhakar