Omaha Cricket Association

Omaha Cricket Association - 2010 T16 Summer Blast

2010 T16 Summer Blast Champions- UNL

It was billed as the ultimate fight between bat and ball. A fight between the marauding strikers of Mavericks against a dogged and determined bowlers of UNL. In steaming hot conditions on a Sunday afternoon the UNL guys in their bright maroon jerseys and Mavs in their blue jerseys were ready for the ultimate prize -- T16 Summer Blast Championships 2010. 
The road to the finals couldn’t have been more different for these two teams. Mavs were methodical and clinical in their approach against each opposition. 
They plotted against each team; prepared a game plan against individual players and most importantly they broke the defense of almost all the team with superb batting. A lineup heavy in batting talent till even the 9th and 10th positions, it would have been envy even for the mighty Australians under Steve Waugh. Pratyush, Praveen, Vishal, Manoj, Pradeesh....they were all in scintillating form and together under the superb leadership of Pradeesh they consistently kept scoring above 100 in each game thus demoralizing the opposition in the process before they went for the kill. UNL on the other hand was more about talent than serious method. This team knew only one way, to pummel the opposition into submission with their pin-point accurate bowling. Except for couple of individual brilliances (Manju, Sam) nobody really got any handle on their bowling. This was a team that Imran would have been proud off...It had the pace of Akthar, the guile and precision of Asif, and consistency of Gul...They kept restricting teams to scores around 75 which their much underestimated batting line up usually munched as easily as if it was soaked vada.

The finals were set to be a colorful family event and it indeed was. There were several spectators, families, kids, and even first timers from different offices (friends of players). Under bright sunshine and under the tent each team had excellent support. The proceedings started with a complete line-up of the teams for pictures followed by the toss and pre-match interviews with the captains. Mavericks captain Pradeesh won the toss and elected to field. When asked for his strategy, he kept his plans close to heart and said he would look to restrict UNL to less than 100. True to UNL campaign, captain Gautham was even more easy going and mentioned that they were just looking to play their natural game.

 So after much fanfare, the teams ran on to the field. Mavs kept the ball tight and bustled in the field. Before you knew, the cream of UNL was back in the ranks and they were at 20 odd runs for the loss of 5 wickets, mostly due to some accurate bowling by Sharath. Thereafter it was mostly recovery job by UNL, done efficiently with a straight bat by Gautham and some flat bat by the lower order batters including Pavan and Aikansh who made useful contributions. In the end, UNL had a par score of 91.

At half time, Mavs were very confident about their prospects. After all they had UNL exactly where they wanted -- score less than 100. But this was the finals, where the pressures of chasing even mediocre scores have brought down fabled teams. But Mavs beleived they had the firepower in them to run down the chase. The second half by all means was the challenge that everyone was licking their hands for. UNL bowling against Mavs batting. Mavs started their inning with Praveen and Pratyush. Praveen was in blistering form in the super six stages on scoring a strong half century as well. But this time he went early edging a Vineeth delivery behind. As expected, UNL bowlers were right on target and scoring was getting difficult. With pressure mounting in the chase, Asad went for 5 and in came Manoj.  Beneath his calm exterior, Manoj can pummel the bowling like a madman with an axe...but the challenge was if he could do it against the laser guided missiles from Gautham. It turned out the missiles were too much for the axe. One good length ball at extreme heat aimed at the body and before he could pivot the body weight, the ball had taken the edge and gone up in the air for a tame catch. Round One victory for the ball. Before this act was being played out at the striker end, it was probably foreseen at the other end by one of the two geniuses in Mavs team -- Pratyush (who had correctly warned Manoj that a trap was being laid by not having an extra mid-wicket boundary, and enticing the pull). Not surprising perhaps, given for someone who cracked the IIM! Omaha has perhaps rarely seen a more slender batter get such immaculate leverage in his shots with his ability to get underneath the ball. This was probably not his best inning of the tournament (he ended with the best batsman of the series) but he kept hammering loose balls and continued the momentum of the team as the game progressed.
But progress was slow indeed. But with captain Pradeesh and Pratyush in the middle, and the other genius of Mavs (Vishal) still in the hut, Mavs were still the favorites. Then came a curious turning point of the game. UNL captain pulled a muscle strain and had to be taken out of the game for treatment. With the spear out, there was a question as to how well the UNL armory would work. Perhaps loosing his concentration and game plan, Pradeesh spooned a Sreenivas ball up in the air which was caught brilliantly by the substitute who ran back several yards. In came Vishal, who by all probability is Omaha's answer to a right handed Ganguly. Apart from Sam (Red Devils) there has rarely been anyone who has flayed balls through the offside with such panache. But then again this was a different bowling machine that he was facing and UNL (even though hadn’t seen too much of Vishal) had curiously enough heavily fortified the offside.

  Not too long after, he perished on the extra cover from another gem from Gautham, who in the meanwhile had come back from the leg strain and was continuing to delivery high heat missiles...
With support running out, Pratyush tried to increase the tempo and hit couple of lovely boundaries, but again perished trying to get underneath a low full length delivery from Gautham. That was an important blow. The tail wagged for Mavs after that with some lusty hitting, but in the end Mavs fell short by 9 runs.
It is said that wolves are most effective when they hunt in packs. So is the case with great bowling teams of years. This UNL team hunted in packs.
 Gautham might have had the most wickets (5 and Best bowler of the tournament), but there was nothing free available from Sreenivas, Nathun and co. In the end the overall bowling brilliance of UNL made the difference (which is even more reason why the 28 ball 54 by Manju against UNL in round 1 might have been a once in a decade inning) .

 Gautham might have had the most wickets (5 and Best bowler of the tournament), but there was nothing free available from Sreenivas, Nathun and co. In the end the overall bowling brilliance of UNL made the difference (which is even more reason why the 28 ball 54 by Manju against UNL in round 1 might have been a once in a decade inning) .

Reporting from N.P. Dodge Park,
Avinash Atholi
T-16 Cricket News