Sun 30 June                             Northwood                                  Won by 7 wkts

They   198/9 in 45 overs     (Sab Ganesh 40, Neil Sargeant 33*, Ram Nandiraju 31, Ranjit Latchman 30, Saikat Barua 3/16, Nitin Chaturvedi 2/24, Wajid Tahir 2/49)

We      199/3 in 33 overs     (Nitin Chaturvedi 63*, Praveen Lekhraj 51, Rohan Ghosh 36, Vaibhav Sharma 1/13, Sab Ganesh 1/42)

Our first fixture at Northwood coincided with India v England World Cup match and thus it was a miracle in itself that Tim managed to cobble together 11 players. Considering the context of the World Cup fixture (Bangladesh and Pakistan ‘cheering’ for India), it was an even more astonishing feat that other than Tim, every other player of our multi-nationality team was somehow invested in the outcome of that game, yet turned out for KCC. That is sheer commitment – club over country.

On a beautiful sunny day, we were greeted with a good-looking ground, an even better looking pitch and excellent facilities. Skipper Nitin had implored the team to arrive early for some practice drills and a majority (just!) responded to the call; Brownie points (albeit no SanPoints) for Tim, Saikat, Nitin, Praveen, Rohan and Chris. Even San joined in the fielding and catching session. Encouragingly, Saikat and Rohan did some additional bowling practice as well in the excellent nets. Frustratingly, we still had 3 players so late that the start had to be delayed, but our hosts were very gracious. Nitin won the toss and, as he usually does in a time game, decided to field.

The fruits of the practice session were evident right away. Saikat steamed in from ball 1 and got a wicket on ball 2! KCC never let that intensity go and had Northwood on the rope all along in a high quality display of tight and incisive bowling backed up by solid ground fielding and Praveen behind the stumps taking all the catches. It’s a great sign when all the dismissals were bowled, lbw or caught behind. Saikat, Wajid and Nitin show up as the main wicket-takers but that does not fully reflect the excellent bowling by Eddy, Sumaer and Rohan. Eddy is fitter and faster this season and Sumaer playing after 2 years was on the money, curbing his natural desire for short lifters. A huge shout to Rohan for coaching the bowlers all along with little tips that really made a difference. Northwood batters never really got in but we were very impressed by a couple of their colts. Sab Ganesh in particular looked very compact and, along with Tyler Pearce, threatened to mount a fabulous counterattack but the introduction of spin by Nitin bowling himself took both out. We were somewhat surprised to see an ex-county player come out as No. 11 and he duly extended their score from 146/9 to 198 and even took Wajid to the cleaners in two forgettable overs before the declaration. If Neil Sargeant had come in earlier the situation may well have been different.

Chasing 199 in an anticipated 37 overs, KCC got off to a great start with Praveen and Rohan putting together 88 runs. Praveen in particular was fluent with drives and pulls, but fell right after reaching 50. Rohan was bowled shortly thereafter and then Nitin and Chris strung together a 77-run partnership. Both of them blunted Northwood’s excellent spin attack (made up almost entirely of their younger players) through a mix of defensive shots and stepping out to hit over the infield. The running between wickets was another matter with several close calls; with victory in sight Chris was run out in an inevitable mix up with Nitin. Although guilt-ridden, Nitin completed the formality (and another unbeaten fifty in a chase) with the typically cavalier David Behar, and KCC were home with 5 overs to spare. All this without requiring the services of Tim Keleher who had the whole afternoon to play football with the indefatigable Silas!

Sab and Nitin were MoMs for Northwood and KCC respectively for their all-round performances. All in all, an excellent team performance, in a lovely setting, on a beautiful day with friendly hosts – a fixture that, hopefully, will continue for years to come!

Ground at Northwood