- Match Report
Wombats Let Tigers Out of the Cage
by Richard Bracefield
A gorgeous sunny day in Fuji despite the early start and the congested Tokyo escape routes. The Wombats took on the Tigers with both teams needing a win to keep their title hopes alive after losses in the previous round. As has been the trend throughout the pandemic, there were plenty of “hisashiburi’s” and “hajimemashite’s” among the squad. This week, the Wommies were without their leading wicket taker, Chelsea Moscript (12 wickets), pacemen Chandu Mudunuru, Ashfaq Muhammad, and Satish Alapati, and middle order stars, Owen Morris and Zubair Bappi. On the flipside, we welcomed back new father, Vig Bandi, the weathered Fuji groundsman, Mark McTamney, fresh from quarantine following a titillating “training” trip to Copenhagen, Rex Kobayashi-Boulter, as well as debutant Navin Jinasena, not to be confused with his brother Kavin… Eyes on you there, Skipper.
In rather typical fashion for 2021, the Wombats lost the toss and were sent in to field. The outfield looked to be lightning quick and, with the characteristic short square boundaries of Fuji 2, there were sure to be plenty of runs scored today. Unsurprisingly, the Tigers looked to pounce immediately, attacking Joe “Spiderman” Lewis in the opening over, smashing a six behind square to lose the first of many balls in the Fuji bush, and following it up with a four. Betting on a seam/spin combo, the Skipper brought on Rasika Ethugala (2-27 4ov) from the other end. The gamble paid off immediately with the wily spinner sneaking one through the defenses of Anuraj Singh in his first over, before employing the classic “shit gets wickets” strategy and bumping in a half tracker to tempt the big shot down the wet and waiting throat of Rex Kobayashi-Boulter at deep square leg in his second over. A dream start at (Richie Benaud voice) 22/2 after four overs.
With both openers dismissed, the Captain and key man for the Tigers, Sabaorish Ravichandran joined Anil Kumar in the middle to stabilise. The pair took a liking to the slower pace of Rasika and Joe, hitting numerous sixes and boundaries to bring up a quick fire 50 partnership in just 7 overs. Sensing the need to inject some pace into the attack, Vig Bandi was handed the ball for his first spell of the season. Vig took no time at all to shake off the rust, quickly finding some good heat and a menacing line and length. After a chorus of ooohs and aaaahs, the Wombats machine began to purr, and with the pressure tangibly building, something had to give. Finally in his 3rd over, Vig was rewarded, getting one to move off the pitch, kissing the outside edge of the Captain’s bat. An absolute peach taken safely behind the stumps by ever-reliable Alex Patmore, who definitely did not bobble the catch.
At 79/3 after 12, the game was still in the balance. Vice Captain, Mohammad Ali (0-46 7ov) kept things tight with his quick off-spinners at the Fuji end while debutant, Navin Jinasena (2-57 8ov), came back from a frightful opening over to claim the 4th wicket, clean bowled in his 2nd over. It wasn’t long before Mr. Jinasena (Sr.) was out of his chair taking snaps as the Jinasena brothers, Navin and Kavin (0-29 6ov), began bowling in tandem, probing for the elusive wicket of Anil Kumar before Drinks at 30 overs. It wasn’t to be however, and Mr. Jinasena would have no choice but to crop the photos of his boys getting whacked around for sixes before sending them to expectant relatives on Whatsapp. Kumar continued to frustrate the Wombats attack, keeping the score ticking along despite wickets falling at regular intervals and laying a handy platform for the Tigers of 176/6 at Drinks.
Closing the last 10 overs would prove to be the defining factor in this one. With some loutish lower order swings and some difficult grabs going to ground, the Wombats were put on the defense as the Tigers middle order belligerently attacked. Countless edges from loose shots flew to the Third Man fence from the pace attack to the cheers of a jubilant Tigers hutch, while spinners were mercilessly exposed by the short boundaries square of the wicket. No one was spared until Joe Lewis (1-48 7ov) pared the scoring back with an excellent 39th over, going for just 3 runs and finally taking the dangerous Kumar with his final ball, giving Vig Bandi (2-57 8ov) a much easier job of the final over. A bruising 94 runs scored by the Tigers for just 2 consolatory wickets from the last 10 overs, giving the Wombats a challenging target of 271. Tigers 270/8 after 40 overs.
Far from being strangers to chasing large totals, the Wombats were up for the fight. The familiar pair of Alex Patmore and Richie Bracefield strode out get the chase underway. The Tigers also opting for a seam/spin combo with the dangerous left arm spinner, Piyush Kumbhare, meant the opening pair would need to be watchful. Patmore started strongly albeit with a little luck on his side, dispatching numerous balls through his favored cover region. The pair navigated the strike bowlers well while keeping pace with the demanding run rate, getting to the first drinks break unbeaten for 85 runs.
The depth of the Tigers’ bowling attack began to take its toll as the first and second change bowlers also gave few extras or opportunities to score easily, forcing the Wombats to push quick singles, and take risks to find the fence. Bracefield (49(50)) finally taking one chance too many, looked to dispatch Ravichandran over the deep square leg boundary only to be caught on the fence. A positive start nonetheless at 123/1 at the 21st over. Resilient as always, Patmore continued to press the attack with shots all around the park, including some clever sweep shots around both corners to keep the Tigers from getting comfortable. Mohammad Ali looked to continue batting positively following his aggressive half century last week and made a start before getting wrapped on the pads in front for 10 (15), leaving the game wide open at 144/2 after 26 overs.
With scoreboard pressure mounting, the middle order had little time to set themselves before trying to make contributions. The departure of Rex Kobayashi-Boulter (3 (14)) sparked a middle order collapse as Mark McTamney (2(4)), Rasika Ethugala (8(5)), Vig Bandi (0(1)), and the key wicket of Alex Patmore (98(106)), all fell within the space of 3 overs, leaving a mammoth task to the Wombats tail at 185/7 after 33 overs. Making matters worse, last week’s almost-Hero, Jarrad Shearer, was forced to withdraw with yet another leg and/or breast injury, and Kavin continuing to struggle with back problems (probably puberty related?), the call was/had to be answered by none other than the eager-to-be-promoted, Joe Lewis, or as he has requested to be referred to from now on, Mighty Joe.
Following on from his stoic 8* last week, Mighty Joe joined Navin Jinasena at the crease with 7 overs to chase 86 runs. Navin played some classy strokes around the ground, but was unable to beat the boundary riders forcing furious singles and twos to be run between the unlikely duo. Mighty Joe brought smiles to the Wombats camp with a pair of boundaries, tucking them off his legs down to Fine Leg, the first of which was celebrated by Mighty Joe in a modified and somewhat culturally inappropriate Jadeja style bat swishing. Off the back of some devastating hitting by Navin, the pair added 27 runs in the final two overs, but ultimately fell short by 30 runs completing the 40 overs at 241/7. Mighty Joe tying his personal best score of 19*(27) alongside fine knock and debut by Navin 25*(18) who together put on a 56 run partnership for the closing stand.
Despite the loss, the biggest disappointment of the day would be discovered later that evening when the Wombats drank the beer cooler dry with still many a tekitoni yet to be shared. A fun day out despite the result with several highlights, including Alex Patmore’s Man of the Match 98 (105), a notable debut by Navin Jinasena with bat and ball, moments of brilliance like Vig and Rasika’s opening spells, and the emergence of Mighty Joe with the bat whose average remains TBD… So, no finals for the Wombats this year, but still plenty to watch for in the season finale at Sano – will the Skipper finish the year averaging over 100? Will Mighty Joe get promoted up the order? Can Rex score faster than 50 strike rate? Which son will Mr. Jinasena love the most for 2021? Stay tuned…
|Tokyo Wombats CC vs Tigers CC|
|Japan Cricket League 2021 (Div. 1), Fuji 2, Shizuoka, October 9, 2021|
|Result||Tigers won by 29 runs|
|TWCC MoM||A Patmore|
|Tigers CC Innings: 270/8 (40.0 overs)|
|A Singh||b R Ethugala||14||14||2||1||100.00|
|A Thakur||c R Kobayashi b R Ethugala||4||3||1||0||133.33|
|S Ravichandran*||c A Patmore† b V Bandi||34||30||2||3||113.33|
|A Kumar||c R Bracefield b J Lewis||85||104||8||3||81.73|
|A Mahasaheb||b N Jinasena||19||17||0||2||111.76|
|P Kumbhare||b N Jinasena||18||15||2||1||120.00|
|N Thomas||b V Bandi||18||17||2||1||105.88|
|M Bhardwaj||run out (A Patmore† / V Bandi)||41||41||3||1||100.00|
|A Sashikumar||not out||4||3||1||0||133.33|
|Extras||(b 1, lb 5, w 23, nb 4)||33|
|Fall of wickets|
|15-1 A Thakur, 22-2 A Singh, 75-3 S Ravichandran, 111-4 A
Mahasaheb, 140-5 P Kumbhare, 170-6 N Thomas, 263-7 A Kumar,
270-8 M Bhardwaj|
|Tokyo Wombats CC Innings: 241/7 (40.0 overs)|
|A Patmore*||c S Ravichandran||98||106||15||0||92.45|
|R Bracefield||c V Jha b S Ravichandran||49||50||7||2||98.00|
|M Ali||lbw b P Kumbhare||10||15||1||0||66.67|
|R Kobayashi||c S Ravichandran b P Kumar||3||14||0||0||21.43|
|M McTamney||lbw b M Bhardwaj||2||4||0||0||50.00|
|R Ethugala||lbw b M Bhardwaj||8||5||0||1||160.00|
|N Jinasena||not out||25||18||2||1||138.89|
|V Bandi||c S Ravichandran b M Bhardwaj||0||1||0||0||0.00|
|J Lewis||not out||19||27||2||0||70.37|
|Extras||(b 5, lb 3, w 19, nb 0)||27|
|Fall of wickets|
|123-1 R Bracefield, 144-2 M Ali, 169-3 R Kobayashi, 173-4 M
McTamney, 176-5 A Patmore, 185-6 R Ethugala, 185-7 V Bandi|
- Rex. Solid take at deep square in the 3rd over off a rank bouncer by Rasika.
- Vig. Difficult chance on the fence at deep mid-wicket above his head. Couldn’t hang on to it and, salt on the wound, it went for 6.
Great Moments in Sport
- Joe. Raising the bat Jadeja style after hitting a confident boundary (with an all Indian team watching on).
- Brothers Kav and Nav holding up both ends with finger spin at one end and nippy seamers at the other aka the Waugh brothers.
- Finished off nicely by Jinesena Sr capturing every ball live and exclusive on his phone. He must have gone through several battery packs.
- Joe threatening to mankad Tigers skipper Sabaorish.
- Tigers captain celebrating the win by coming off the field in a huff and a puff by himself and lambasting his team one by one as they joined him.
Golden Thong Nominations
- A certain ‘legend’ once again running off the field mid-innings to destroy a Fuji portaloo. Time to get that plaque installed…