Here's a complete guide to the cast of characters and their nicknames. The cast will be updated as players are added or dropped or nicknames changed as the season progresses.
Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.The top of the CLIA league table is beginning to tighten up and with the money end of the season coming up, each game assumes greater importance. The Iowa State University team wandered into Omaha hoping to leap-frog into the 4th spot in the race for the semi-finals. The stage was set for a hard-fought battle. Last year the games between NCC and ISU were very close (more on that later) and this game was no different.
- George Santayana
Every great mistake has a halfway moment, a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied.
- Pearl S. Buck
Captain Ozone entrusted Bob Loblaw with the toss. Naturally, the portly one lost the toss and had the duty of informing his team that they would be batting first. Thin Man and U-Turn began sedately as Usman and Anwar pegged away at a just short of good length line. U-Turn, mindful of recent low scores, looked to middle everything and spend some time out there. Unfortunately, the first overpitched ball of the innings was too juicy to avoid and his attempt to clear mid-off failed. The batting hero of the previous match, Sunny Delight (yay...I have a nickname for him now), proceeded to play his way in while trying to guide Thin Man. Thin Man, having changed bats before the match began, was having a tough time connecting with the ball. He still managed to hit what was to be the biggest six of the day, but eventually his frustration at not striking cleanly got to him and he was out for a paltry 8 in 11 balls.
Abraiz, ISU's big (6'5") man, was brought into the attack to stir things up and he did just that, getting Chikna Slater bowled while attempting to biff a shorter length ball into the tenanted leg-side where deep square-leg and deep midwicket were waiting patiently. Just 6 runs in 18 balls was a sad return for his cautious vigil.
In the past few matches Energizer Bunny has been having a good time in the middle and the law of averages was bound to catch up with him, and it did. After being tied down for a couple of overs by Abriaz, Energizer looked to take matters into his own hands and stepped down the wicket to loft him to the long-off fence. With the ball speeding away past him, the mid-off fielder took off and took an acrobatic catch to save a sure-fire boundary, among other things. A labored innings of 4 runs in 14 balls was brought to a spectacular close.
Almost immediately afterwards, Sunny D looked to clip the spinner (Sharan) for an easy single to long-on. Instead the bat turned in his hand and a laddoo of a catch was taken at short-midwicket. His innings of 18 runs in 21 balls promised a lot more than it eventually delivered.
Ozone pushed and prodded his way, poaching singles in his typical nurdling style, while Doctor Kamikaze began his innings with a typical bang, slamming a four to deep midwicket off the first ball he faced. These two normally do not get to bat together in matches (usually because Kamikaze cannot be bothered to hang around at the crease till Ozone shows up) and, not surprisingly, a misunderstanding between them led to Ozone's needless runout. (Having said that, here's something to think about, when is a runout NOT needless?).
The score read 86 for 5 in the 17th over. With 13+ overs still to go, Bob Loblaw walked in to thundering silence. Over the next hour and a half Bob resisted all urges to throw his wicket way, constantly reminding himself to stay put till the end. With Bob in a combative mood, Kamikaze began to unfurl his drinking-cat hoiks (eyes closed, swing bat), connecting enough times to keep frustrating the bowler and the opposition fielders. Twice Kamikaze's swings connected well-enough to scatter the grasshoppers near the far road, but apart from those sixes it was hard work for the fellow. Taking on one too many risks, Kamikaze lost his stumps to Abraiz but not before compiling 43 runs in 49 balls with 2 sixes. His 50 run partnership with Bob had advanced the team score into the 130's and what was needed was a final flourish.
King Warnie and Bob kept the ball along the ground and ran two's and three's as often as possible. Bob pulled up with a sore back and U-Turn came back to run for him. At the end of 29 overs the score was 147, and Bob turned on the gas and 16 runs came from the final over. 163 for 7 in 30 overs was a competitive score. Warnie, playing with a great sense of purpose and along straight lines, scored 13 in 9 balls. Bob remained not out on 39 runs in 36 balls, with three boundaries. In the 7 matches he has played this season, this was the fifth time (out of the 6 times he has batted) he has been there at the end of the innings (including three not outs), often taking the team past a tender stage into a position from which a victory is possible.
We shall now take our regularly scheduled mid-inning meaningless trivia break.
- The most commonly-spoken languages in the world are: Mandarin (907 Million); English (456); Hindi (383); Spanish (362).
- The most common street name in US: Park Street.
- The Statue of Liberty is not in New York state, but in New Jersey.
- Pencils are hexagonal because they're cheaper. You can make 9 hexagon pencils with the same wood it takes to make 8 round.
- The only country with 100 percent literacy rate: Iceland (They also have to speak 3 languages).
- Proportional to their weight, men are stronger than horses.
Three balls later another rubbish ball got Warnie a wicket. Usman did not quite know what to do with a low full-toss and tamely patted it back to the bowler. And just like that a breach had been made and NCC came roaring in.
Ozone turned to his middle over enforcer and U-Turn did not let him down. Bowling his deadly wicket-to-wicket wobbly swingers, U-Turn cast a spell and the scoring reduced to a trickle. At the other end, Fifth Element was brought on to keep up the pressure and between the two of them the bowlers did just that. Bowling in tandem as if they had been at it for years, the duo slowed the rate to such an extent that something had to give. Not surprisingly it was the batsman. Another cross-batted hoick found its way into a diving U-Turn's hand at deep midwicket and Fifth was back in the wickets. Pretty soon, Fifth surprised everyone, including himself, by latching on to a sharp return chance offered by Prasanna. 61 for no loss in 6 overs had disintegrated into 98 for 5. But the fast start had ensured that the required run-rate was always of manageable proportions. What was needed was a calm head to take the team through and Lakshmi Narayan (LN) set about to do just that for ISU.
Refusing to take any risks, LN was content to take the very occasional single and the more-than-occasional wide that was on offer and the match slowly meandered for a while. However, one rush of blood from Anwar was enough to see him lose his stumps to U-Turn and increase the pressure on LN. 113 for 6.
U-Turn and Fifth completed their spells in one go and throttled the ISU momentum brilliantly. U-Turn finished with analyses of 6-1-13-2, while Fifth provided great support with 6-0-27-2.
Chikna breathed fire looking for the breakthroughs the team needed and settled down from one end while Ozone circulated between his options at the other end. Sharan and LN kept things very quiet and it would take a burst of inspiration to change up things and Chikna managed that with a picture perfect in-cutter that took out Sharan's off-stump. 138 for 7.
Kamikaze came in at the other end to bowl in the death and, like every other every bowler, was having trouble breaching LN's defences. Slowly but surely LN inched the score along but his long vigil came to an end when he missed a flick off of a straight ball from Kamikaze and was trapped dead plumb in front of the stumps. LN's innings of 17 runs in 53 balls was one of those double-edged swords in that it gave both teams a glimmer of victory. 152 for 8.
Abraiz came in shaking his head at the situation of the innings and pummeled the first ball he faced to the long-off fence with chilling nonchalance. At the other end 18-year old Daya played with immense purpose and actually scored most of the runs, swinging cross-batted at everything and managing to get enough bat to not get out. In the 29th over, with just 9 runs needed for a win, one such shot took the outside edge and sped away to the third man fence.
With 6 balls to go, Abraiz was on strike. Three runs to win, two wickets in hand and Kamikaze with the ball in hand. The first ball was slightly wide of the off-stump and a wild swing by Abraiz yielded a thick edge to third man and the batsmen quickly ran two runs to level the scores. 5 balls to go, 2 wickets in hand, 1 run to win, Abraiz on strike...massive advantage: ISU.
The second ball of the over was punched o short cover where Warnie quickly converged on the ball. Seeing this Abraiz refused the run but the non-striker had taken too big a lead and could not recover in time. A calm throw by Warnie to Kamikaze produced the runout.
4 balls to go, 1 wicket in hand, 1 run to win, Abraiz on strike...advantage: ISU, but the margin of error had decreased considerably.
Let's step away from the action for a flashback: Last year, ISU hosted NCC in a 25 over game. In that game, with about 8 overs to go, and 7 wickets down, Bob Loblaw had taken the score to 143 while scoring 20-odd not out. Then in the final over bowled by Kamikaze, with one ball to go and one wicket in hand, ISU needed 3 runs to win. The batsman was, you guessed it, Abraiz. He lofted a ball to deep midwicket where the fielder dropped the catch (!) but then showed good presence of mind to throw to the non-strikers end where Abraiz was runout going for the winning third run, thereby tying the game.
So, coming back to the present - here's a refresher of where we left things: 4 balls to go, 1 wicket in hand, 1 run to win, Abraiz on strike...advantage: ISU, but the margin of error had decreased considerably.
The next ball by Kamikaze was on good length targeting the off-stump. Abraiz's eyes lit up and he went for a cross-batted flick that missed everything. Unluckily for him, Kamikaze did not miss the stumps and for the second time in two years ISU and NCC had tied the game!!
Each team went back with 4 points for the tie and a feeling of what-if. What-if NCC had not bowled 32 wides? What-if Abraiz had not lost his cool? What-if...?
In the end, what we got was a memorable match that will be hard to forget.