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Oxy Cup Semi-Final Roundup - Part 2

A bright still evening greeted both teams at Linksfield Arena with new shiny team shirts being distributed by Captain Aqeel. Names on backs, sponsors logo’s on the front with the Shell pecten being carefully hidden under the Shalimar branding. Some Shell CC players being overambitious in terms of size needs….”I thought these sizes would have been more generous.” was heard many times…..Captain Aqeel winning hearts and minds….unfortunately this wasn’t applied to the toss with Bons electing to bat.


The pitch itself resembled an Aberdeen road right after heavy rain….pitted, uneven and likely to cause damage. The outfield hard, brown and the complete opposite of a snooker table.


Shakeel and Haroon opened with Haroon the first man to go, without facing a ball…run out by a swooping Shahid in true Aberdeen sea-gull style, relaying the ball to wicketkeeper Irfan to complete the runout.


At the other end Shakeel battling it out, using real skill to nudge the ball around with some quick running between the wickets with Ravi. Shakeel particularly savage on anything short, with some strong pulls and leg side deflections. Fielder Mush was for the first of 2 occasions in the wrong place and the wrong time with a bruised arm received after stopping a fierce hit off a full toss. 4 runs saved.


Ravi was next to go for 2 with a return catch to Anjum. Some real fightback shown from Bons with new batsman Mani showing his class, composure and cracking strokeplay…a chanceless innings aided by him batting 1 metre outside of the crease to negate the Linksfield ridge. Mani retired with a huge legside six for 35. Chanceless was not a word to give to Shakeel with a very difficult catch dropped by Ajay in the deep…did well to get there but disappointed that he could not hold on.


Nawaz next in and some strong hitting on view. Taj adding to the Bons score after giving away 5 penalty runs through fielding the ball with his cap. Nawaz the third Bons batsman to retire unbeaten. All Shell CC bowlers exhibited discipline then Aqeel came onto bowl. The second of Mush’s bad luck moments came when a juicy full toss was shellacked by batsman Adnan off Aqeel with a naive Mush stopping the ball leaving seam imprints and bruising on his hand…another 4 runs saved, but at what cost?


The remainder of the Bons wickets were single figure scores boosting the target to 145 to win. A competitive total despite 20 runs given as penalties/sundries….how would this effect the final result?


Shell CC innings got off to a rollicking start with a powerful cut for 4 by opener Shahid and continued with opener Irfan hitting a couple of nice legside flicks. Irfan the first to go caught by wicketkeeper Vicky one handed diving to his right. 21 for 1. Ajay the next batsman in and some real tip and run cricket keeping the scoreboard moving. Ajay played some powerful straight lofted drives in his 30 with the wind helping the ball sail over the boundary. The tip and go approach led to Shahids downfall as he called Ajay through for a quick single despite the ball not leaving the batting crease…42 for 2. This became 45 for 3 pretty quickly as Farooq top edged a pull to be taken at the boundary by Haroon.


Enter Taj squeezed into a Shell CC shirt and used his strength to good effect and placed many aerial shots in close vicinity of the fielders….perfectly weighted strokes, teasing the fielders and causing some words of ‘encouragement’ to emanate from the captain. The halfway stage 10 overs, 61 for 3. Sunny was introduced bowling some flighted deliveries and causing Taj some real timing problems. Taj eventually retired for 32.


The tension increasing with ever ball…shades of Lords 2019 World Cup final…the 11 or 12 spectators present cheering on every run, shouting words of advice and being told not to change their standing positions on the boundary by Raavi. The countdown was on…15 overs complete the score 88…who would triumph in this colossal struggle?


The 16th over provided the release required with 19 runs scored…..the target was now manageable. Who would prevail? Enter Aqeel – exit Aqeel yorked by Ravi for 6. Could Abid and Anjum get the team over the line? On came Raja and the pitch did the rest…a fearsome bumper taking off and clearing Vicky – 4 byes all helped get closer to the target. Raja eventually bowled Abid for 11. Leading the youngster Haider to support Anjum to claw Shell towards the target. 12 balls remaining, 22 to get….


Anjum played some clever cricket and worked the angles well ably supported by a spritely Haider…1’s became 2’s meaning 9 were required off 6. Nawaz with the last over, a drive from Anjum and the ball squirted over Mani’s head and away for 4! The spectators were on the feet, Captain Aqeel barely able to keep his composure…could Anjum see it home? Could he make his years of experience count? In came Nawaz and bowled outside off stump and despite the fading light Anjum managed to squeeze the ball to third man and come back for 2. Jubilation, Anjum allowed himself a wave of his bat and well deserved, a tremendous win for Shell CC and a lesson in how to pace a run chase….onwards to the final.
aqeel  5 Aug 2021 - 16:28   
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