The unexpected (and unwanted) mid season break for AGSFP’s 3rd XI ended with the Grade 4 return match against 2nd top side Siyapa. The break was unfortunate as the previous match had seen a great team performance to push unbeaten league leaders Portcullis all the way, but eventually losing by a mere 6 runs. The first game against newcomers Siyapa left FP’s soundly beaten and the team selected for the return showed only 2 survivors, captain Ian Johnston and Akil Thanga, who were joined by Naresh Kumar, Akil Thanga, Rajaa Monnapallai, Jeston D’Costa, Mike Blues, Paul Norwood, returning after major back surgery, Shri Balasubramani making his debut as wicketkeeper, Matt Garratt making his FP’s debut after years of inactivity and Gary Stuart planning to emulate his beloved Dundee United’s best players and make an early exit. The 11th man was missing due to social media mix-up.
For the first time this season FP’s lost the toss and were asked to bat first. Siyapa were also a man short, so the gaps in the field would be useful to both teams.
Norwood and Stuart opened for FP’s on a bright but windy afternoon at Harlaw. Both batsmen looked comfortable during the early overs, Stuart playing a couple of perfect cover drives to settle any early nerves and both batsmen found the gaps well, taking some good quick singles to keep the scoring rate at a steady 3 runs an over. They had made the best opening stand of the season of 44 when Stuart was out caught off Tanweer for an impressive 17 ( 1 x 4).
Mike Blues joined Norwood and the scoring rate fell as slow bowlers Shahid and Tanweer bowled a good selection of off breaks and leg spin, getting good turn from the artificial wicket. Blues was beaten by a leg break from Tanweer, only to be bowled next ball trying to cut a perfect off break, Blues scoring 5 (1 x 4), FP’s 62 for 2 off 21 overs.
Norwood had been batting well, using his experience to keep the scoreboard ticking along, but having just hit his third boundary was out bowled by Usman for 35, FP’s 77 – 3 off 26 overs.
Johnston had seen a big turning off break first ball from Tanweer and next ball tried to sweep the non turning straight ball and was out LBW without scoring.
D’Costa and Monnapillai then showed how it should be done adding 34 in only 6 overs taking the score to 112 off 33 overs before Monnapillai was out caught off Sharham for an excellent 17 (3 x 4). Unfortunately D’Costa was out 4 balls later, bowled by another good off break by Sharham for 21 (1 x 4).
Shri played a couple of good drives before he sliced a pull shot and was caught off Arshad for 5, FP’s 123-7 off 37 overs.
Thanga was batting with good discipline following a couple of good nets during the week, but was out caught behind off an inside edge for 14 (1 x 4), but his stand with Garratt had raised a vital 28 runs as FP’s used up vital overs.
Garratt had impressed with his batting while making 14 not out (2 x 4) and the unfortunate Kumar had to wait until the last of FP’s overs before he had a chance to bat. Kumar was run out for 1 in the last over, at least he will be able to tell his grand children that he played in the match that FP’s 3rds batted over 45 overs!
Following a short tea interval, FP’s took to the field knowing that following the last match against Portcullis that anything was possible
Stuart and Monnapallai opened the bowling for FP’s, both bowlers bowling well and beating the bat on numerous occasions, Monnapallai especially unlucky. Monnapallai deservedly took the opening wicket courtesy of a great catch by D’Costa at square leg who dived (slowly) to his left and just caught he ball inches above the ground to give FP’s a much needed breakthrough, Siyapa 23 – 1 off 7.5 overs.
Three overs later Stuart bowled Raza middle stump with a cunning slower ball, Siyapa 38 – 2. Siyapa skipper Abdullah has scored a century in the previous match so was a key batsman. Danish continued to live dangerously, playing and missing frequently and the score was rising ominously. Just when it looked like it would take something special to break the 3rd wicket stand, something special happened when D’Costa brought off the catch of the season to dismiss Abdullah while fielding at square leg when he dived and parried the ball left handed then caught the ball right handed as it fell while lying on his back! Siyapa 75 – 3 off 16.3 overs.
Siyapa’s 4th wicket stand was mounting quickly and opening bowler Stuart had to leave the field due to a prior engagement. FP’s were indebted to Siyapa’s skipper who generously allowed a substitute fielder to take Stuart’s place.
Wicketkeeper Shri, who had been keeping faultlessly, suggested he come on to bowl his mystery spinners as an option from the pace only attack. A reluctant skipper was gradually worn down and agreed to allow Shri an over or two.
This inspired choice by the captain paid off in whathisnames first over as Danish, along with the 9 fielders, was completely bamboozled by a straight ball which the batsman tamely lobbed to Norwood at short cover who gleefully took the catch. Danish had scored 30 (3 x 4) and Siyapa were now 115 – 4 off 25 overs.
FP’s knew that another quick wicket would really open up the match and it was that man D’Costa who did it again with another great catch, this time diving forward to pick up a caught and bowled to dismiss the dangerous Shahram for 25 (3 x 4), the batsman very reluctant to leave the crease despite both umpires confirming the catch was good, Siyapa 121 – 5.
Shri had by now been told to remove the wicket keeping gloves and thus lost that magic delivery, but did create another wicket when Usman was run out by the substitute wicketkeeper when Hegde took very deliberate and very, very slow aim and threw down the stumps as the batsman, still under a Shri-‘spin’-spell, desperately tried for a quick single, Siyapa 132 – 6.
Shri was replaced by Monnapillai who returned to bowl a second spell. With the second ball of the over Shahid was out LBW for 4, Siyapa 144 – 7. With only 11 runs to win, plenty of overs but only 2 wickets the pressure mounted for both teams. Blues came on for D’Costa and bowled his best spell of the season giving away only 6 runs in 4 overs.
Monnapillai bowled an excellent maiden, but in his next over with 6 runs required bowled 3 wides. He then bowled round the wicket and with the umpire reminding him it is difficult giving LBW’s from around the wicket, produced the perfect round the wicket LBW delivery, which pitched on middle and straightened, Tanneer out LBW for 1, Siyapa 151 for 8 needing 4 to win.
Next over by Blues conceded 3 runs, so with the scores tied and one wicket required by FP’s, schoolboy Monnapillai received an inspirational speech from his captain,
“Right Rajaa, one run needed, one wicket needed. No pressure…”
First ball of the 37th over from Monnapillai was a perfect delivery, good length on off stump which batsman Arshad could not leave and he edged the ball to the keeper who calmly took the catch, match tied.
An incredible ending to a great performance by FP’s. The batting display was excellent against the second top team in Grade 4, the opening stand set FP’s up nicely and the three middle order youngsters all produced their best performance of the season, batting with controlled aggression. Which they will be expected to repeat…
The bowlers also produced a good performance, and were helped by a spectacular catching display by D’Costa.
Stuart 11 – 2 – 42 – 2, Monnapillai 9.1 – 3 – 23 – 4, D’Costa 7 – 0 – 31 – 1, Shrispin 3 – 0 – 15 – 1, Blues 5 – 0 – 9 – 0
Man of the Match – Another tie; Rajaa Monnapillai, scored 17 runs and took four wickets, including the all importnt last wicket, and Jeston D’Costa, who scored 21 runs, took one wicket and three fantastic catches
Champagne Moment – Any one of three great catches would normally do it, but must be taking the last wicket for the tie