For the next few posts, I shall hand over the blog to Sohail and let him talk about each WVUCC player (along with player ratings for the 2007 season). Here is Sohail, in his own words...
Right Hand Batsman
Right Arm Legspinner
(Even though it looks blank, do click on the video below, it will play)
WVUCC has had a rich history of quality spin bowlers. Abhijit is the latest addition to that long, talented list. Legspin is probably the most difficult art to master in limited overs cricket. With bats getting thicker and the boundaries getting shorter, legspinners are becoming a rare species, which saddens me a lot. The PCA ground being the way it is proves to be a suicide spot for legspinners as even the most obvious mis-hits and edges carry the potential of landing out of the ground. In the entire PCA league you can hardly find a good legspinner. Not only do you need supreme control over the ball but also the heart of a lion to bounce back after being hit for boundaries. Had Abhijit played for WVUCC when we played in Ohio, he would have had more cushion with larger grounds and thus more success. Despite the disadvantage, Abhijit did not fail to make an impression in his very first season playing for WVUCC.
It is his allround ability as a batsman, bowler and fielder which makes him yet another quality product and one who could easily make it in the playing eleven of any side in the PCA. He started off as a legspinner but was quick to prove how good a batsman he is in the net sessions and capitalizing on the chances he got playing in the middle order. He sealed the point fielding position for himself as well telling you that he was arguably the best fielder we had this season. I also think that he has potential as a captain due to his mature thinking and fighting abilities.
Abhijit started off bowling his gentle legspinners during the net sessions waiting for opportunities to prove his worth. The most obvious, first good impression he gave was that of a very good athelete and swift runner between the wickets. Being a fit individual overall, Abhijit was able to register himself in the good books of the selectors right away. He had a good bowling action and reasonable control over the ball during the nets. It was his batting, though, which was a revelation. I usually do not rate a batsman unless I have bowled to him myself during the net sessions testing him with different lengths, lines and slower deliveries. The first time I bowled to him, I could see right away a batsman with a good, tight defensive technique and the mind of an accumulator; a perfect candidate for the middle order along with Sumanth and Ajay.
Net sessions are there to get into shape and rhythm. The real test for any player is out there in the ground when the pressure is on and you only have limited chances. There are few players who succeed in their very first game the way Abhijeet did. In the only over he bowled, Abhijit took a record 4 wickets giving away only 1 run and becoming only the second bowler in WVUCC history to register a hat-trick. What a start! Much was expected of his bowling for the rest of the season. Apart from another quick spell when he took 3 wickets against the Lumberjacks, Abhijit failed to capitalize on the exceptional start he had. Perhaps the blame lies with the captain for not giving him many opportunities. However, in a twenty five over game if a bowler goes for above 6 an over for a couple of overs, it is very difficult for any captain to persevere with him. Anyway, this was his first season and picking up seven wickets which includes a hat-trick cannot be called a poor start. I hope that Abhijit will emerge as a more consistent bowling option for the team in the future.
Now, the batting. In days gone by, a WVUCC side relied heavily on the shoulders of their captain. Especially while chasing, if I would get out early, the team would crumble and loose. This was probably the first year when I felt that we could win without personally contributing with the bat or ball. I knew that people like Abhijit were there in the middle order to lift the team in times of crises and bat with confidence to take the team to any possible target. Batting down the order Abijit formed more than useful partnerships and ensured that the batting would not collapse. To illustrate this point further, he was involved in five partnerships of 25 runs or more including two 50-run partnerships with Amol and Ashok. He had three scores of above 25 including his matchwinning career best of 43 against the Lumberjacks. His most important innings though came when the team really needed him. Chasing a modest total of 108 against the Strikers, Abhijit walked in when the score was only 23 and we had lost the top five wickets. The pressure was immense and Sanjiv Singh was hurling the ball at enormous pace. The pitch was at its worst and the Strikers were sensing their first ever victory against the WVUCC. Abhijit raised his game scoring a 50 run partnership with Amol and guiding the team to victory with an unbeaten 28 off 42 balls.
In total, Abhijit scored 133 runs in the nine innings he played, taking 7 wickets, 2 catches and was also involed in a run-out effort. A fabulous first season for him!
My Favorite Abhijit stroke: Cut stroke for 4!!
My favorite Abhijit innings: 28 against Strikers including four boundaries.
Abhijit is a very stable batsman at the crease. He has a simple technique and one that works best for his style of batting. With a moderate back-lift Abhijit is able to angle his bat towards the third-man region and rotates the strike at will. He likes to cut the ball behind point and his backfoot moves well across to get closer to the ball. He does not like to drive straight and is a little reluctant to force the ball when on his front foot. He has a very good defense and his bat and pad are tightly together when blocking the ball. A Steve Waugh-like batsman, Abhijit is also a good flicker of the ball off his pads. He does need to develop his pull and hook stroke though which will help him on more bouncier tracks if needed.
There is nothing wrong in his bowling action as a leg-spinner. He is swift and his arm is at the right angle at the point of delivery. I cannot comment on his bowling grip since I have not investigated much of that. The problem lies with the pace with which he delivers the ball. In the start of the season he bowled very slow and flighted the ball a lot bowling full tosses and going away for runs. He increased his pace then and improved his control over the ball but then became too predictable, hardly turning the ball. If he is able to find that middle-range bowling speed he is very difficult to play and can pick up more wickets.
As a batsman Abhijit is very strong mentally and this is because he keeps things very simple. He plays the ball on its merit and does not try to experiment too much, waiting for the bad ball. He is an accumulator of runs and picks up singles at will running hard between the stumps. He can come under pressure at times by the opposition but does not allow that to interfere with his plans for too long. He has a good cricketing brain and can prove to be a very good captain in my assessment.
As a bowler, Abhijit was not able to stay strong enough at times in order to pose a great threat for the opposition. Much of that has to do with the limited opportunities a slow bowler like him received in such bowling conditions. This being said, he can learn how to adjust is such bowling conditions by looking at other spinners in the league such as the Steelzags spinners. Once he learns how to manipulate the lengths and pace at which to bowl, he can turn out to be a great bowling asset for his team.
Abjijit like Sumanth is a quiet, shy character (what's up with these middle-order batsmen?!). He focuses on his game and concentrates on his performance more than thinking about what the opposition is up to. He remains calm under pressure and does not lose the initiative after getting it. He too prefers to play in the local tennis ball tournament than coming for the practice sessions at times (like the rest of the team) which is understandable. I have high hopes of him in the coming season for WVUCC both with the bat and the ball.
Marks Out of Ten this season (8.0/10)
(Editor's note: Lest all the praise gets to his head, here is Abhijit losing his cool and his wicket. WVUCC needed 1 run to win and Abhijit tried to finish it off in grand style and failed spectacularly, to the great amusement of the cameraperson).