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Nova vs. DC United, Saturday, August 1st, Galway

Toss: Nova won toss and elected to bat

Result: Nova won by 51 runs

With several of the regulars not available, Nova went with a new opening pair in Razi and Manu. Razi started in grand fashion with a four off the first ball of the game and then three off the next ball. Manu departed with a golden duck on the third ball and Razi departed an over later to a blinder of a catch at square leg leaving Nova rather quickly in rebuilding mode at 14 for 2 at the end of 3 overs. Rajesh and Asif played cautiously through the next 5 overs. Rajesh was looking in good nick before he hit a low full toss tamely to cover after scoring 15 from 27 balls with 2 fours. Azhar promoted up the order dealt in boundaries to score 31 from 35 balls with 5 fours as part of a 53-run partnership with Asif. Shehzaad and Asif then put on a 85-run partnership in 14 overs to take Nova to 175 before Shehzaad was unfortunate to be run out at the non-striker’s end while backing up too far to a ball hit straight to midwicket’s hands, after having scored 28 runs from 44 balls with 1 four.  Javid provided the necessary support at one end while Asif accelerated the scoring. Asif’s first 50 came courtesy of a 6 hit off the 59th ball he faced. He then scored 34 runs in 36 balls to reach 84 with 1 over left. The last over yielded 4,2,4,wd,wd,dot,4 leaving Asif at 98 with 1 ball remaining. Asif could have perhaps made triple figures off that last ball of the innings if he had put his head down and just run two runs rather than worrying about whether the ball he had just skied would be caught (the ball was actually dropped and then the throw had Asif short of the crease while attempting the 100th run). Regardless, it was a mature and responsible middle-order performance by Asif in which he hit 7 fours and four sixes as he batted through 37 overs in stifling heat. Nova reached a respectable 234 for 7 from the full 40 overs. DC United helped out greatly with one or more catches or stumpings to give extra lives to Razi, Asif, Javid, and Shehzaad.

DC United batting matched Nova’s start hit for hit with the first ball being dispatched to the boundary and the third ball being hit so far and high over the bowler that it cleared the trees to the road. However, Nova never let DC United settle,  with wickets falling at steady intervals. Each of the first four bowlers took a wicket each: First one was a mishit pull off Sameer’s bowling held by Javid at short third man, second was a clever off-speed yorker by Azhar to dismiss the dangerous looking opener who had cleaned Sameer’s clock in his first over and then again in his third over. The third wicket came in Shehzaad’s first over, courtesy of a nice low running catch by Azhar at gully, and Razi used his pace to get a caught behind in the very next over. This pegged DC United back to 72 for 4 after 13 overs. Razi struck immediately after the break with another caught-behind and Asif followed in the very next over with a wicket maiden with the batsman playing on. Nova was sitting pretty with DC United 77 for 6. Then came the fight back from DC united where they put on 48 runs for the 7th wicket to take them to the second drinks break needing 110 from the remaining 14 overs. Sameer was brought back to get a breakthrough which happened through a comedy of errors: Manu misfielded the ball at mid-off and then threw to the bowler’s end, and Sameer’s relay to the keeper was nowhere near the gloves, but luckily hit the base of the stumps with the batsman stranded. Three overs later, Shehzaad bowled the most unbelievable ball that pitched way way outside off stump and took a massive turn to castle the batsman with everyone not quite believing what had just happened. Shehzaad continued with his strike bowling to take a third wicket – that of the other batsman who was anchoring the innings, and Nova were smelling an early drive home with DC United at 144 for 9 with 8 overs left. Nova had been rather sloppy on the field throughout the game with several misfields, run-out chances not capitalized, singles turning into boundaries, but things worsened after the 9th wicket fell, with Nova allowing 41 to be scored from 5 overs, for the second highest partnership of the game for DCunited, before Amaan finally took a catch at the boundary in the 38th over to give Razi his third wicket of the game and Nova the victory by a sizeable margin of 51 runs. Shehzaad had wonderful figures of 6-0-22-3, spoilt somewhat by his 7th over going for 16 runs. Asif turned in pinpoint accurate bowling with no wides conceded and final figures of 6-3-9-1.

Positives: Asif led the way with the bat and contained the scoring with the ball, allowing other bowlers to take wickets at the other end. Shehzaad turned in a good show with bat and ball as well. Team was much more positive on the field, encouraging each other when mistakes were made.

To improve: Fielding and throwing left a lot to be desired. And Nova seemed the lack the will to go for the kill with the opponent down….it will be important to not let that happened as we inch closer to the playoffs. Also take a look at scorecards for wides conceded.

Next up: Bengals on Saturday


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