So here we are again. After an off-season that passed mercifully quickly and some great sessions indoors, Britannia are back on the field hoping to follow on from last season’s successes with some long-awaited silverware. As always in this sport dominated by ex-pats, the past few months have seen some departures. However, thankfully the recruitment process and ever-increasing profile of the club in the local area has once again been fruitful, with some extremely promising new arrivals in the ranks.
With the Bundesliga starting this weekend, the last few weeks have been dominated by the Regionalliga. Britannia II, so famous for tight, exciting matches last season once again took to the field hoping to build on last year’s runners-up position. However, while the casual observer has been thrilled by the tight results, three losses from the first three games means we have all to do this season.
We started off as the Easter bunny was doing his tricks against a newly formed Viktoria II side containing some familiar faces. Batting first and despite some decent starts, nobody managed to crack on and we finished early (as is our Achilles heel) on 114. With Viktoria bolstered by two Bundesliga players in Andi Mirza and Irfan Muhammad, the newly set-up bowling attack had trouble keeping the score down, before a wonderful spell of deadly straight bowling from Kumar (5-12) made it interesting. However, a couple of expensive overs, extras and the lack of runs to defend was our downfall as we lost narrowly in the end by two wickets.
The deficit the next week against HCCW II was also tight on paper, with the scorecard showing a four-wicket loss. However, the performance in all areas simply wasn’t good enough. Some loose shots with the bat and poor fielding and catching meant that we were deserved losers. 76 runs is our lowest total in 50-over cricket for some years and – despite a sterling effort – was just not defendable.
Similarly close, but of a much higher standard all round was our match against Berlin Lions last weekend, which is summed as follows in Tipu’s fantastic report…
It was cold in Berlin on Sunday, with temperatures ranging between 6°C to 12°C. Not very ideal, many would say, to enjoy a game of cricket. But both the teams had a different plan to provide for some entertainment and the necessary warmth coming along with it. It took the Lions the 589th delivery of the entire game to roar victoriously eventually rescuing a couple of finger nails, many of which were till then chewed and bit by the supporters of both the teams.
Chasing 267 runs on a sluggish Berlin Maifeld outfield or defending 266 runs under close to icy temperatures could prove to be a daunting uphill Herculean task. Both the teams set about their respective tasks on a very positive note with Berlin Lions edging ahead on this tug-of-war contest. With three quick wickets in their bag, Berlin Lions seemed to invite the sunshine, but that also got Rohit at the crease. He joined Vijay, who had by then seemingly settled in and was going run-a-ball, not allowing the asking rate to disappear like the sun.
What followed for the next 24 overs was a marvelous display of innings building and a partnership which patiently, yet determinedly steering their run chase. A partnership of 142 runs between the two was built on clever running between the wickets and also involved the occasional over the boundary hits. They rotated the strike between them, forced field changes, cleared the boundary and started from the beginning again – as if on a repeat modus. Lions were getting tired, maybe also a bit frustrated, dropping catches and also getting nervous. It was the last delivery before the second drinks-break which tilted the game again their favor. A seemingly simple ball by Shalika to Rohit, who had just reached his well-deserved, hard-earned 50, was tried to put away for a single again, but it beat his bat, and crashed on to his stumps. The clatter of the wood drowned completely in the roar let out by the entire Lions’ team, who were relieved to the core to have finally broken this partnership, to have their toils being rewarded. With 88 runs in 96 deliveries, with five wickets remaining, with Vijay still at the crease at 92, with Ganidu still having enough number of overs remaining, the game was evenly poised between victory and defeat setting the stage for a good finish. Off the players went for drinks before they were to return for the last and final session of the game.
Matin fell soon after they returned, with what seemed to have been a dubious leg-before-wicket decision. Aarush, playing his debut game for BSV walked out bravely, and he also put in a fine effort assisting Vijay. The partnership lasted 13 overs bringing about not only valuable 65 runs but also another round for hope for BSV. 17 runs were required from the final 12 deliveries. Ganidu ran in hard bowling his first delivery of his final over, and Vijay tried to clear the in-field over the point-cover gap, miscuing and allowing Niroshan to calmly settle down under the ball taking the catch and with it – probably – also the game. The Lions immediately knew the significance of this well-judged catch, as did the entire BSV camp.
The cheering – done till then in unison by both the teams – was suddenly take over by only side, although the decibel level remained unchanged. Ganidu completed the penultimate over with the most important wicket and by giving away only 3 runs. 14 were required off the last 6, but Alex and Arun both got out in quick succession in a do-or-die situation. The game ended with a dot ball and a hard-earned victory for the Lions.
At the toss, Alex had sent the Lions in to bat, trying to utilize the overcast windy conditions and also being rewarded by the early wicket of Ganidu. But Chamila anchored the innings with two valuable partnerships. First with Thusitha, Chamila set about to build the innings, their partnership yielding almost 100 runs, and then together with Indika contributed another 80-plus runs which laid the platform for Shiron and Shalika to quick-fire 50 odd runs, taking their team total to 266 runs, which proved just enough yesterday. Rohit was the most successful bowler, with Alex, Juri and Mahmadul also being very economical.
This game will be well-remembered by all those present on the field for all the right reasons. That includes a stunning flick by the centurion Vijay sailing over the ropes, Mahmadul greeting Ganidu for a six over long-on, Shalika plucking a catch at mid-off, Rohit’s mature innings, Vijay almost carrying his bat through, 521 runs being scored, 600 balls being delivered, the cold weather and – of course – last but not least Niroshan holding on to the catch.
So, let’s keep our fingers crossed that this weekend will bring some success at last for the club. We are constantly growing (outside Berlin as well) so it’s time that we show what we are made of.