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Rusty Nova falters in sloppy first game of season

Nova vs. Pakistan, Saturday, June 4, Jefferson
Toss: Pakistan won toss and elected to bowl
Result: Pakistan won by 2 wickets

Put into bat on a damp pitch and soggy outfield, Nova began inauspiciously with Azhar being runout on a close direct hit in the second over. Asif and Jay put on a 38 run partnership in 7 overs before Asif was bowled after scoring 23 runs (23 balls, 1 four, 1 six) while attempting to pull a ball after just having dispatched the previous delivery to the boundary. Sajjad played cautiously through to the first drinks break when Nova was positioned quite well at 56 for 2 from 14 overs. Disaster struck in the first over after drinks break with the first of several dubious decisions by the umpire – Jay was given lbw while attempting to pull a ball that was going down the leg side, after scoring 25 runs from 46 balls with 2 fours. Rajesh R. and Sajjad put on a brisk 20 run partnership in 2+ overs before Rajesh fell to a lbw decision after scoring only 4 runs with the ball striking him high on the waist. Two overs later Sajjad fell to a spectacular overhead grab at midoff after scoring 14 runs from 33 balls with 1 six. Nova was in a spot of trouble at 79 for 5 from 20.2 overs, with 150 looking difficult to get. Amar and Razi righted the ship to take Nova to 126 after 30.3 overs setting up for the final 10 over push and there was hope of getting to 170+. But it was not to be as Nova lost the last 5 wickets for 24 runs in the next 5.4 overs to end up at sub-par 150 all out from 37.1 overs. Razi’s wicket after scoring run-a-ball 33 run with 2 sixes and 2 fours was followed by Amar caught behind for 16 (35 alls, 1 four, 1 six), Jalal for 8 (12 balls, 2 fours), and Mikki for 3 runs, and Amaan suffering a wrong caught behind decision down the leg side on the first ball he faced. Rasesh B. played solid defense over 12 balls to try and get Nova through the full 40 overs. 

Jay and Razi opened the bowling and the first 6 overs were relatively quiet with 20 runs coming off them, with one caught behind decision and and an lbw decision not being given off Razi’s bowling. Azhar’s first over leaked 11 runs but also brought the first breakthrough with a caught behind decision on a ball that was nowhere near the bat. Sajjad had an off day with the ball while Asif and Mikki stemmed the flow of runs for the next 10 overs by giving up only 24 runs and both of them each got a wicket with balls squeaking through and clipping the bails. With Razi contributing a spectacular direct hit from covers to run out the batsman in the first over after drinks break, Nova had a glimmer of hope with Pakistan at 75 for 4 after 18 overs. The fifth wicket partnership broke Nova’s back with 64 runs coming from 12 overs, with the batsmen being provided one or two loose deliveries each over to dispatch for runs and also enjoying extra lives through dropped catches. Rasesh B. was the only bowler during this stretch who was able to keep the runs from flowing, bowling an accurate off stump line and ending with figures of 4-1-11-0, with no wides bowled. With only 13 runs left to defend, Nova put up a last-gasp fight taking 4 wickets in the span of 4 overs with one bowled (Razi), one caught and bowled (Amaan), one caught behind (Amaan), and 1 run out (Razi to Rajesh R.). But it was too little too late as Pakistan got to 151 in the 35th over with 2 wickets in hand. Not having enough match practice with 5 rained out T-20s clearly did not help Nova hit its stride in this first game. 

Preseason hype on Facebook had predictions of Nova running the table this season and this match was featured as the match of the weekend. Nova players are going to have to really apply themselves in the coming games if they are planning to live up to the hype and the expectations both from themselves as well as the rest of the league. 

Positives: Rasesh B’s bowling was a bright spot. Several batsmen got good starts. 

To improve: Hold our catches (we dropped 7). Bowlers need to focus on line and length rather than pace – leaking wides or giving up a loose deliver in each over made it difficult to defend a small total. Batsmen need to focus on building partnerships, especially after a wicket has fallen – wickets fell in bunches. 

Next up: Chargers on June 11 at Buck Lodge – Chargers are undefeated, with 4 wins in their T20 campaign and a comfortable win this past weekend over the Hunters at Buck Lodge (our friend Mohammed scored a century)


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