Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Cricket in the 'Burgh - part 21: Accolades

At the end of the regular season, some of the accomplishments of the members of the team were recognized in a private forum. (Please do note that that stats quoted below do not include the playoff performances).

Best Player: Sohail Chaudhry
308 runs, 24 wickets, 4.9 economy rate, 6 catches, 2 runouts and a stumping.

Whether batting, bowling, or fielding, he is the inspiration for the rest of his team. And, by the way, his primary skill is wicket-keeping! A splendid captain, he has also improved his ratio of winning the toss. This season, for the first time he won more games after winning the toss. Usually we lose when he wins the toss. This year he was 6-2 when he won the toss and 3-1 when he lost. So statistically speaking, it makes no difference if he wins or loses the toss now (a testament to how good the rest of the team is). (And I used the word toss too many times in the paragraph...need to work on my writing skills).

Best Batsman: Abishek Muralidharan
335 runs, and 7 catches.

The 4th leading scorer in the PCA league this year was, by far, our best and most consistent batsman, outshining perennial contender Sohail. The bulwark of our batting, in 13 innings Abishek failed to reach double digits just thrice, while crossing 25 on 7 occasions. Also scored 3 50's - tied for the most by any player in the league. He also led WVUCC with 7 catches, second highest in the PCA league for a

Best Bowler: Amol Bhavsar (14 wickets in 10 matches) and
Avinaschander Manivannan (9 wickets in 5 matches)

For the initial 2/3rds of the season Amol was almost unplayable when he focused on just bowling a proper line and length. Ironically, when he looked for wickets he went wicketless. But overall, coming one-change in every match, he invariably put the other team on the back foot with quick strikes. For the last 1/3rd of the season,
Avinash came back from a (potentially career-ending) knee surgery to take 9 wickets in 5 matches, with an economy rate of just 4.16.

Best fielder: Abhijit Bhagavatula

A livewire at point (aren't they all?), Abhijit showed a rifle-like throwing motion to couple with high energy levels throughout the season. He may not have led the list of catchers but his presence at point, especially during the early overs, kept many an opener quiet.

Best wicket-keeper: Ashok Varadarajan

The highlight of WVUCC is that (counting practice and matches) we employed 7 wicket-keepers, with little to choose between the bottom 5. Of the top two, Sohail is good keeping up to the stumps but standing back from the wickets, Ashok has a wider range and greater athletic ability to compensate for lesser technique. Perennially our best fielder, Ashok took up the responsibility of keeping when the previous incumbents did not relish the prospect of a long season. Ashok led the PCA in dismissals by a keeper by a wide margin. He had a total of 25 dismissals as a keeper - 16 catches, 1 stumping, 1 unassisted run out, and 7 assisted runouts. The next closest keeper had just 12 dismissals. And by the end of the season he had even
curbed his instinct to shy at the stumps everytime he got the ball in his hands.

Best innings: Arvind Thiruvengadam
33 against PittsPunters

Last year's most improved player, Arvind exploded at the end of the 2007 season. For the first half of the season he kept finding new ways to get out, usually being the recipient of the one awkward ball of the innings. In his last 6 innings his scores were: 46, 4, 33, 65, 25, 78. His best innings, however, was the 33 he scored against
PittPunters out of a team score of 64! The remaining 10 batsmen only had single digit scores as WVUCC collapsed spectacularly. Great things are still to come from his flashing blade.

Best partnership: Abhijit Bhagavatula and Amol Bhavsar.

When a team is tottering at 23 for 6 and still wins the game in less than 20 overs losing just one more wicket, you know a special partnership has been forged. Curbing their natural instincts to hit out of trouble, Abhijit and Amol stitched together a match-winning partnership against the Strikers, preserving our record of always beating that once-formidable team.

Best bowling spell: Abhijit Bhagavatula

In his first over in the PCA league Abhijit took 4 wickets, including a hat-trick, the second in WVUCC history and the second ever in the PCA.

Best wild card: Ajay Nayak

Ajay opened the batting sometimes, batted at 5, 6, 7 and 8 at other times, opened the bowling, bowled at the death, and bowled in between, fielded in the cover region, fielded in the deep, and at all times made his presence felt vocally. A true team player, he was the first to raise his hand if an opener was needed (when Arvind went to California on a research trip) or an opening bowler was needed (when Venkat hurt his shoulder). Ajay will be hoping to be rewarded with a more steady job title in the future. Now that the coach has gone, maybe his cause will be easier!!

Team spirit award: Nikhil Burri

Nikhil played just 6 matches and was the 12th man for an equal number. He did not get to bat, bowled only 10 overs, and yet was there for every practice and every game he was in the selected 12. When one of the players was leaving for good, he even organized a team dinner so everyone could join in and wish him well. At practice he was always smiling and not once did he complain about his diminished role or that others were selected ahead of him. A true team guy! If he needs any further inspiration he should just look at Ashok who played one whole year as a 12th man who only fielded. Today no WVUCC team will be written down without Ashok's name being pencilled in right away.

Best game: Round 1 versus the PittsPunters

Playing with just 10 members (and one of them pulled up lame half-way through the match) a short-handed WVUCC handled the best shots that the Punters could take to win a humdinger by just 3 runs. Not surprisingly, Ashok contributed those three runs.

Best piece of fielding: Sumanth Dommaraju

Tony Edmondstone of the Strikers hit a ball towards Sumanth at cover and took a step and a half down the wicket before he changed his mind on the run. Too late! Sumanth moved a couple of steps to his left, picked up the ball, and sent in a bullet to the keeper to catch Tony totally out of the crease. A stunning moment that was to be seen to be believed.

Playoff accolades:

Best Batsman: Ashok Varadarajan and Sohail Chaudhry

Last year when the PittsPunters steamrolled through the playoffs, they did so by riding the stupendous batting of Saravanan Annamalai. This year when WVUCC entered the playoffs, the think-tank knew they needed their own Sarav. In a like-for-like replacement pattern, they decided that if Arvind got out, Ashok would go in and if Sohail got out, Abishek would go in. As luck would have it, Arvind got out early and Ashok walked into the tensest of situations and transformed himself into the batsman we always knew he could be. In the playoffs he scored 106 runs in 100 balls, with 12 fours and 4 sixes, being dismissed just once. His partner in crime was Sohail, who scored 121 runs in just 79 balls, with 15 fours and 4 sixes, being dismissed just once, too.

Together they put on an unbroekn 146 run partnership in the semi-finals (in just 14 overs) and 83 runs in the finals.

Best bowler: Avinaschander Manivannan

In the finals, he stifled the SteelZags with a brilliant display of fast bowling, first tearing apart the openers and then returning to finish the job. His analysis of 4 overs, 1 maiden, 9 runs and 2 wickets tells the whole tale of his dominance.

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