Day 5 – Match day vs Mumbai XI
Today saw us play our last fixture of the Mumbai leg, and to add to that, it was played under lights, at what has to be said is a magnificent Dr. D.Y. Patil Stadium. I can only imagine what it must be like, when the stadium is at full capacity cheering for Sachin Tendulkar as he makes his way to the crease for the Mumbai Indians. The stadium has a very Bullring (Wanderers) feel to it, as the stands are sort of built to make it feel like the supporters are literally on top of you.
We always knew that todays opposition would be slightly different, and that they would come out guns blazing after they got given a solid hiding by us yesterday. As per usual, our team meeting prior to the game was full of discussion about game plans and what we wanted to execute as players and as a team. A debrief was given on the previous game, and a lot of positives were taken out of that fixture that we most definitely would use today, as well as in future matches.
What made this fixture a little more appetising for us, was the fact that our sponsor ABN AMRO was present, with a few of their clients, as well as the Consul General Marijke van Drunen, and her guests of honour. Our sponsors also kindly invited all the kids that we gave a clinic to the previous day or so, to come and have a great night out watching a bit of cricket.
Well, they were in for a treat all right. Peter Borren lost the toss and was asked to bowl first on what seemed like a good wicket. S. Marathe, Mumbai XI’s left handed opening batter, got off to an absolute flier, and was striking the ball like a true champion. Crisp, clean, calculated hitting that even the little master himself (Tendulkar) would have been proud of. He was well on his way to register a hundred, which takes some doing in the T20 format, but was expertly dismissed with a cutter from Malik, and wicket keeper Baressi did the rest as he sent the batter back to the pavilion 5 runs short of his milestone stumped. A great innings it must be said, and as soon as the boys saw the back of him, the run rate seemed to stagnate a bit in the closing few overs, which meant that they could never really kick on and post a huge total. In saying that, 165/5 was still going to take a good effort from our boys to reach. Once again, miserly bowling from Malik and Bukhari was backed up superbly by a solid performance in the field. Our boundary fielding was top-notch again, and all the catches were held in the deep.
After the interval, it was our chance to take to the stage, and I’m sure most of the batters were licking their lips at the prospect of batting on a good wicket that had a bit of everything. There was just enough swing and seam movement for the bowlers, as Swart found out after he received a gem upfront. Myburgh was run out in the first over, an so for the first time in a while, our solid opening pair were in the shed, and it was up the rest of the lads to do the job. Alexiei Kervezee came in and was in the zone straight away. He was striking the ball just as good as Marathe, and at one stage he was scoring at a staggering 255% strike rate. Unfortunately he couldn’t continue welding his willow at will, and was eventually caught out in the deep for a well played 48 runs off 22 balls. His knock, together with van Bunge, meant that we still had a solid platform from which to launch our attack. The score after 6 overs was 64/2. In waked the skipper. He has been in good touch lately, but he will admittedly tell you that he has gone out cheaply in the last few innings, and so I’m sure he had a point to prove to himself that he could finish off the job. He started off in his usual fashion, working the ball all around the field and into gaps, turning singles into doubles, and playing the odd sweep here and there. Daan van Bunge unfortunately went out for a well played 34, and their partnership of 57 off 45 balls meant that we were in the hunt to pull off a great chase. The scoring rate required had gotten to a manageable 7 runs per over with plenty of batting to come. However, the quick dismissals of de Grooth, Bukhari, Seelar, and a first baller for van Meekeren, meant that we were on the brink of getting bowled out in our chase. The captain stood firm at his end, whilst trying to guide the ship home safely. What seemed to be a walk in the park for us, now seemed improbable as we needed 16 runs off the last over for victory.
Malik, not a stranger to close finishes, was Borren’s partner at the non strikers end with 6 balls to go. With fine leg in the circle, Borren tried to lap the first ball, but unfortunately missed it as it was bowled just inside the wide line of off stump. The following delivery was a expertly bowled slower ball, that held up nicely in the turf and flummoxed the captain, as he tried to pull it through the leg side. Two dot balls in a row, meant that we needed 16 of just 4 balls. A moment that may very well go unnoticed in the game were the next 2 runs scored down the ground. If it wasn’t for Malik’s awareness of backing up properly at the non-strikers end, and turning quick to make it back for the second run, I may very well be writing a completely different report on the game.
So with the double completed, we had 3 balls remaining, off which we had to score 14 runs for victory. In these sort of situations, a team also needs a bit of luck to pull it off, and luck seemed to shine down upon us when Borren’s top edge pull shot went for a boundary over the keepers head. This meant that we needed 10 off the last 2 balls. One of these last two balls needed to disappear out of the ground for us to stand a chance to win. It wasn’t to be the next delivery, as Borren smashed a low full toss down the ground, expertly piercing the mid-off and mid-on fielders who had no chance of getting close to the tracer bullet. Could the script have been written any better? A six needed off the last ball of the game for victory. For the people who came as guests to watch with our sponsor, most of whom have never really watched a game in their lives, and for the kids on the side cheering on their heroes, this surely was a great advertisement for the game of cricket. Tension, and excitement in its rawest form. Some deliberation went on between their captain and bowler, as changes to the field were made. On the sideline, we were all pre-determining what sort of ball would be bowled, and due to the field set in a certain way, it was pretty clear that the bowler was backing himself to bowl a yorker. Our skipper stood his ground and proceeded to absolutely pump the low full toss out of the ground and into the stands over long-on. With his hand held aloft, and fist pumping the air, that penultimate six meant that The Netherlands pulled off a 1 wicket victory with a wonderful chase of 166 runs. A fitting end in a Stadium that has seen many a close game before I’m sure.
This game had everything. Adrenalin was pumping all the way to the finish, and hats off to the skipper who finished it off in classic style. A way that many kids dream of doing one day when they get older. Borren finished on 59* off just 37 balls which included 6 boundaries and that wonderful six off the last ball. A great game, capped off a great night under lights for the boys, and for the spectators. Our Mumbai leg of the tour had finished on a great note, and the boys now take a lot of momentum to Pune, where they come up against the England Lions team in two 50 over fixtures and a T20. I can tell you that the boys are looking forward to the challenge.
Mumbai XI 165/5 in 20 overs
Malik 2/28 in 4
Bukhari 1/22 in 4
Netherlands XI 166/9 in 20 overs
van Bunge 34(37)
Netherlands XI win by 1 wicket (0 balls to spare)