7 May 2011

World Cricket League Div. 7 - Germany Not Crying In The Rain

Match Day 5
[scorecards] [points table]
[cricinfo bulletin] [ICC match report and post-match statements]

Germany v Norway
[gallery] [really nice Cricket Europe gallery]
[great match report by Cricket Germany]

Satyaaaaa!!! Top-scorer, 3 catches,
2 runouts: my personal MOTM No. 2
Oh dear oh dear. We lost the toss once again, and I came to the conclusion that the guys are just too bloody honest for any sort of gamble. Great was the delight to see Asif Khan back in the fold, but Norway's bowlers made the best of the conditions and had us reeling at 102/5 in the 29th over. Schockschwerenot! This was the first time that I couldn't sleep ahead of a German match and the scorecard seemed to prove my stomach's efforts to become the next psychic octopus right. A few guys got into double figures, but only Satya Srinivas' powerful 52, which gave me a few facesplitting grins, lifted the total to a somewhat defendable level. Defendable if you play against Gibraltar at Guernsey that is... 184 all out after 46.4 meant that in case of a defeat we needed to prevent Norway from reaching their target in approx. less than 40 overs (thanks DV for the calculations) to stay on top of them via NRR. Bowling them out would of course be the preferable modus operandi.

And then it started to rain...

And days later we saw the D/L target written out on the scorecard:

Norway need 140 from 28.4 overs.

Gahhh. A comfortable total if you keep wickets in hand and hit out towards the death overs. So wickets wickets wickets was the motto and I hoped our attack leaders could make their usual early inroads. Ehsan Latif was back for Ashwin, and I so wished he would finish the tournament on a personal high. My faith in Rana-Javed Iqbal exceeds any measurable dimensions now anyway. However, the little man in my head was driving me insane with his "Wet ball wet ball, nanana nana!" chants.

Rana conceded a single run in his first over and that was enough for the Norwegians to chuck the first wicket right into Ehsan's greedy throat. HRRRUMPH! Skipper Damien Shortis, who had only just made 91 the other day, gifted keeper Satya Srinivas with his first catch of the day. Rana leaked a few at the other end but Ehsan, despite going for a few as well, did not bowl a single wide in the whole match [please pass out NOW], and kept taking them out. The second wicket fell in the third over, lbw by Ehsan, and both openers had gone, Norway 15-2. Rana was replaced by Rajeev Vohra, who kept it really tight. I loved how he put pressure on the batsmen and got rewarded with wicket No. 3, caught by Asif Khan, so probably nicked through to the slips, 21-3.

But please, no optimism, we are English. Almost. And the guy who had just strode out to bat was... Shahid A.

Ehsan took the MOTM honours for his pretty 4-26!
Shahid Ahmed, to be precise. What a nuisance. Rajeev Vohra, in collaboration with Satya, removed Shahid's partner Shahbaz Butt at 40-4, only to have Shahid gang up with my personal dangerman and dread of dreads Ehetsham-ul-Haq (the guy actually deserves his own tag on this blog, so, there it is) and these two stuck like glue to the crease, but also didn't get bogged down, and instead kept the run rate in check really nicely. Fingernails, hairtips and random, protruding objects in the closer surrounding were chewed off in a series of nervous breakdowns. These two offenders put an agonising 42 on the board, before Ehetsham, being an ul-Haq and therefore perhaps not a race horse between the wickets, got run out by Farooq Ahmed and Satya! Satya was having a cracker of a day, which continued when he and André Leslie also ran out Wasim Gill, who had replaced Ehetsham. Norway 91-6, I began to sniff morning air, as we say over here! But six down means there are still some capable bats at the crease and with just 49 runs to get at around 5/ov and the powerplay left anything was still possible for the Viking legation, but the two runouts in quick succession seemed to suggest that they were starting to lose their heads, completely unnecessarily.

And the Germans had sunk their teeth into the Norsemen's flesh. Shakeel Hassan, bowling like the absolute meister bowler he is, eventually hit the stumps of Shahid Ahmed, and from there on wickets kept falling regularily. A nice mix of attack options ensured that the tail would give me the odd scare without starting to wag. Ehsan, the good Ehsan, grabbed four altogether; Shakeel took his well-deserved second wicket, and although I so wanted Rana-Javed Iqbal to take a wicket as well it wasn't meant to be. Sorry for my current religious comparison fit, but Rana reminds me of Moses, who had successfully lead the people of Israel to the Holy Land, without being allowed to enter it himself. ARGH! Life can be so cruel. So yeah, Rana is the Moses of cricket, and he parted the sea for his team mates again today, literally if you will. I am absolutely sure about that.

PS. I can offer you another fascinating theory about why Norway surrendered to Ehsan: the last time he played against them, at the Euro Div. 2 in 2010, he took four as well, so their nerves were a shambles already when they only saw him running in. Har har. I would furthermore like to mention that also Satya, gutsily knocking the bowlers around just like today, had played a vital role in this match :)

Asif Khan says:

"It's mixed feeling for me today, we had two games that we lost by two wickets and this game we won but it was very close - on the whole though we're still delighted that we're a part of Division 7. Our batting didn't click so well today but Satya proved his worth under pressure and I think to have got them out for under 140 on this wicket is a real achievement."

Oh god I love defending so much. We are so bloody good at that. When we are defending I always have a sense of basic trust in the team, like a child has in his surrounding. During the relatively short time I've been following Germany I've seen our bowlers pull off the craziest and freakiest mindf***s. It doesn't matter if the other team sends us in... we will defend anything, against anyone, against Rudi, rain and D/L. That stupid little slip against Botswana in the middle overs has cost us the promotion though, and I could smash something in, because getting neither promoted nor relegated means in the first place that Germany won't be playing any WCL till 2013. NOOOOOOOOOOO :(

I need to figure out the next dates on the European schedule, but it might be a while as well. Hopefully the experienced guys are keen to keep going, I want to see these blokes for another round of Germany v Botswana (by which I mean the next WCL Div. 7, not the shit and giggles match tomorrow, which we must win of course, just to restore some pride, and hopefully our young guns will get a decent ride out, they absolutely deserve it, albeit not at the cost of dropping Ehsan of course). Oh yeah Botswana....

Botswana v Nigeria

Godogod Botswana. I am sure they had envisioned a way more glorious end to their WCL campaign on home soil. Bundled out by the Nigerians for 123 (!!!) and additionally hurt by D/L they didn't stand the ghost of a chance and had basically lost the race for the second promotion spot after the first innings. Congratulations Nigeria on the promotion, you thoroughly deserve ascension! Oh and guess what, Nigeria captain Endurance Ofem had "expected more from them" (no joke, but a good running gag nevertheless). But getting 0 points for a miserable batting performance is better than suffering the fate of the Japanese...

Japan v Kuwait
[no gallery]

Japan, so far win- and pointless, did not get to bowl or bat a single over against Kuwait. The match was abandoned without a ball bowled, and Japan finish the group stage of the tournament with one point from a game they didn't play. The humiliation must be exorbitant. You can only feel for this brave little island team. I am lost for words. On the other hand Kuwait's ascension fills me with delight, and it looks like I'm gonna follow them now with one eye at least, good luck at the WCL Div. 6, Hisham and Co.!


Outlook: tomorrow the final and the playoffs take place, which will not influence the outcome of the tournament, but determine the final ranking in the table. Kuwait and Nigeria, both promoted, will fight for the No. 1 spot, Germany and Botswana, retaining their WCL Div. 7 status, play for rank 3, and the two relegated teams Norway and Japan will try to avoid carrying the red lantern.



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