Sat 15 June Kensington India Lost by 61 runs
They: 254/5 in 40 overs (Praveen Lekhraj 102 rtd, Lakshya Kochhar 52*, Viraj Sawant 38, Extras 29, Chetan Singh 1/27)
We: 193/8 in 40 overs (Rohan Ghosh 67, Saikat Barua 49, Saurav Sen 35, Roshan Shetty 3/25, Bernard van Vuuren 2/7)
KCC India had embarked on their second tour of England a week before this game. The action-packed itinerary had anticipated several exciting fixtures at marquee grounds against fantastic opposition. They were sure to be fully acclimatised and match-tuned by the time they played us at Ascott House as the grand finale to a tour that coincided with the World Cup. They would dazzle the locals with displays of cricketing genius that Mumbai is famous for.
Alas, they brought with them the other thing that Mumbai is famous for – monsoon rains that last for days on end and bring life to a standstill. And so it came to pass that, with their games as well as all others in a 500-mile radius washed out for precisely the duration of their visit, they prepared for the game against us in true KCC fashion, at a selection of local pubs and eateries. Indeed, even Ascott House informed us that their pitch was unplayable and it was only through the heroic efforts of Tim and the KCC committee that we managed to secure a pitch at Regent’s Park to host the 2019 edition of the “Bashes”.
Play commenced a mere 30 minutes after the scheduled start time of 1pm under classical English peak summer conditions:
spotless blue leaden grey skies with a gentle breeze howling gale blowing across the ground. Deepak won the toss for KCCI and, no doubt intimidated by our fielding drills (see schematic illustration below) and pre-match ritual of fortifying ourselves with Ambala Sweets’ finest samosas and jalebis (courtesy Pradip), elected to bat first. KCCI’s line-up featured a few guests on loan from KCC: Praveen Lekhraj, Akhi Shailendra and Bernard van Vuuren – clearly players who would always struggle to find a place in our normal Sunday teams and needed to prove their worth.
Rahul Sengupta and Praveen “Loan Ranger” Lekhraj got KCCI off to a steady start, until Eddy Barreto took advantage of the conditions to bowl Rahul for a patient 5. Praveen was then joined by the dangerous Viraj Sawant and the pair, aided by some exemplary displays of fielding (see illustration – actual pictures may be too distressing to show), took the score to 92, when Viraj perished for a well-made 38 – caught by Saikat Barua off Chetan Singh’s bowling. Ankush Bhan then kept Praveen company as the latter motored on, before perishing to a well-held catch in the deep taken by, you guessed it, Saikat. His exit brought in the Bollywood actor Lakshya Kochhar who bludgeoned a quick 52* while Praveen demonstrated to KCC the risks of the lending business as he compiled a smooth 102 for 5 retired out by skipper Deepak who gamely ran himself out after a 5-ball 6, bringing a no doubt thrilled Shashi to be non-striker off the last ball of the innings. KCCI finished on 254/5 in their allotted 40 overs.
Chetan Singh (1/27 in 8) and Saikat Barua were the pick of the KCC bowlers, with Seethal having an uncharacteristic off day and Sid Chhibbar unable to take full advantage of the helpful conditions. Eddie Barreto (1/47) bowled well at the top of the order, but KCC were really let down by the fielding (see illustration).
We were not done yet. As if to give KCC India a full demonstration of the authentic KCC experience, we were reduced to 6/3 in 3 overs, with Bernard “Performing Loan” van Vuuren accounting for David Behar and Sid Chhibbar, and Lakshya following up his 50 with the wicket of Amit Shanker. With skipper Rohan’s mood darker than the ominous skies above, it fell to him and Saurav to try and reprise a “Great Wall of Bengal” partnership. The pair appeared to steady the innings until Saurav fell for 35, caught by – yes – Bernard, off the bowling of Akhi “He’s Not Acting A-Loan” Shailendra. Out walked Saikat, probably the only KCC player to be able to hold his head high that day, and smashed a quick 49 as he put on nearly 100 runs with Rohan, before perishing to Shashi. That pretty much closed out our innings, as we limped along to 193 in 40 overs, with Rohan finishing on a brave 67.
Roshan Shetty (3/25) was the pick of KCCI bowlers, with Nitin Bajaj keeping things tight from the other end, along with Ankush Bhan who toiled through 8 overs in vain quest of a wicket that would take him to level with Deepak for their season’s cumulative totals.
Game over, both teams made their way to a local pub where both humiliation and hypothermia were successfully combatted, and cricketing memories quickly made way for more pleasant and enduring ones of bonhomie with our “brothers”. Long may these tours continue!
Wed 5 July Kensington India – T20 Won by 8 wkts
They: 155/6 in 20 overs (Rahul Rege 62, Rahul Sengupta 34, Matt Marshall 4/17, Saikat Barua 1/27)
We: 158/2 in 16.4 overs (Tim Keleher 100*, Saikat Barua 33, Deepak Ramachandra 1/25, Yogesh Keswani 1/36)
Following on from the hard-fought draw on Sunday, KCC and KCC India backed up with an evening 20/20 on a sun-bathed Barnes ground.
Our visitors were all dressed in pristine whites, warming up vociferously under Deepak’s watchful eye some 30 minutes before the start. We on the other hand were using all platforms of phone messaging to ascertain exactly where all our late players were. Unsurprisingly, many of them were drawn into the dark web that is the Hammersmith roundabout from which we all know there is no escape. Matthew had the right idea, getting out of his still ticking Uber to walk across the bridge and continue his Uber journey on the other side.
Onto the cricket, Deepak called correctly and rightly decided to bat. Very good call and after a great opening stand KCCI were 90/0 off 9 overs with 5 bowlers already used by a despairing Tim. Ball thrown to Matthew who hasn’t played much cricket of late, but was obviously energised by his earlier stroll over the Thames. Boom, 2 wickets in 2 balls (the second a very sharp catch to Ledger) and the whole complexion of the match changed.
The incoming KCCI batsmen were suddenly tied down, and the returning spells of Wajid, Neeraj and Saikat were much improved. Matthew though was the star bowler. Not content taking just 2 of the top order, he knocked over the other 2 top order batsmen to give a recurring theme to top of the scorebook. 4 for 16 off his 4 overs.
KCCI finished on 155 from their 20 overs, which we all suspected was 30 runs short of what was required.
Tim and Kamrul opened up for KCC. Yogi, fresh from a 4 wicket haul on Sunday, started off for KCCI. Unfortunately for him, Tim took 16 from his first over and the tone of the chase was set. Even with Deepak removing Kamrul for a duck, Saikat and Tim continued the chase untroubled. Boundaries were flowing from both batsmen and it was obvious that a third game in four days had begun to take its toll on a tiring KCCI attack.
Saikat was dismissed for a run a ball 33 just before the end, but a boundary to Tim through mid-on brought up his century in just 59 balls, and crucially the victory was secured with more than 3 overs to spare.
Although we could not be the gracious host on the pitch, it was off the pitch where we showed our visitors the best of KCC. Sunil and Manju hosted a superb dinner in their back garden where the drinks and conversation flowed late into the night. A memorable evening for all lucky enough to be present.
Sun 2 July Kensington India Drawn (but close)
They: 210/8 in 44 overs (Prahlad Tanwar 56, Yogesh Keswani 39*, Rahul Rege 26, Rahul Sengupta 23, Neeraj Nayar 2/34, Saikat Barua 2/35, Wajid Tahir 2/66)
We: 199/7 in 40 overs (Saurav Sen 44*, Jamie Keleher 39, Kamrul Hasan 28, Chris Ledger 23, Yogesh Keswani 4/34, Sashi Someshwar 2/22)
Sunday 2nd July, 2017 – a very important date for the Kensington Cricket Club’s history. On this day we hosted KCC India, the affiliate formed recently by our very own Deepak Ramachandra leading them on a tour of England. KCC India faced its mother club in the lovely surroundings of NPL Teddington.
Deepak won the toss and elected to bat. Both openers did well to negotiate the early movements of Saikat and Amit Shanker and safely reached 44 for no loss. Then Saikat produced a magical delivery to clean bowl Rahul Rege for 26 and followed it up by dismissing the other opener Rahul Sengupta thanks to a smart grab by Neeraj at first slip who also held a more difficult one later in the innings.
KCC India then experienced a common KCC failing: a middle-order batting collapse! All of a sudden, they lost 3 quick wickets including that of skipper Deepak who was cleaned up by a Wajid yorker. Neeraj and Wes bowled tightly and the runs dried up, each bagging a wicket. At 112/7 KCC India were in all sorts of trouble as the mighty Prahlad Tanwar joined the calm-headed Yogesh Keswani. These two batsmen produced the best partnership (79) of the match by taking full advantage of some wayward bowling and moved the score to a respectable 191 when Prahlad finally fell for a rapid 56 off just 42 balls. Yogesh remained unbeaten on 39 when Deepak made a sporting declaration on 210.
Tea was duly taken. David Behar and Amit Shanker opened the batting for KCC and laid a good foundation, albeit with great caution and due respect given to Deepak’s accurate first spell. At 40, Amit departed by edging one behind. Soon after, the out-of-form David became impatient and charged the leg-spinner, only to be caught at mid-off. Stef Nayar did not trouble the scorer as KCC slid to 51/3.
Steady heads were needed and both Jamie and Chris did a good repair job. At the end of 25 overs, we were 98/4. 113 runs required in 15 overs. Acceleration time, and skipper Jamie tried to do exactly that with Kamrul but fell for a well-made 39. At 111/5, the win seemed to be running away from us due to some good bowling from KCC India’s Yogesh and Sashi Someshwar. Then, Kamrul and Saurav formed a brisk 57 run partnership hitting multiple sixes and fours. A win for KCC seemed very possible until Kamrul was undone by a Yogesh special. 168/6, 43 runs required from 30 balls. Still very possible considering Saurav was going strong and with more firepower yet to come.
However, KCC India’s death bowling was nothing short of outstanding with the return of Deepak and Yogesh. Scoring runs quickly became more difficult. Wesley Johnson became Yogesh’s 4th victim whilst trying to up the run rate. Wajid joined Saurav in the middle. 21 needed off the last over, Deepak to bowl. First ball, Wajid smacked a huge six over long on. Nail-biting time, 15 needed from 5 balls. Sadly, it proved to be too much for us as Deepak rarely bowls more than one bad ball in an over. We finished the innings 12 short of the target and had to settle for the draw.
A great game of cricket where both sides deserved to win but in the end the consolidated Kensington was the true winner. Yogesh and Saikat received man of the match awards for their respective side. Beers and post-match banters were shared in the balmy, summer evening – a thoroughly enjoyable outing for KCC India on the first match of their tour.