Sun 28 July                                 Hampstead                                   Won by 5 wkts

They   247/4 in 40 overs     (Fergal Walter 100 rtd, Anshul Gupta 42, Steve Hunt 36*, Josh Stephens 36*, Nitin Chaturvedi 1/32, Saurav Sen 1/39)

We      249/5 in 40 overs     (Amit Shanker 75, Nitin Chaturvedi 63, Tim Keleher 33* in 9 balls, Jai Singh 30, Fergal Walter 1/5, Dane Sunderland 1/49)

At Hampstead CC

Our much-anticipated first fixture against Hampstead was certainly one to remember for KCC. Skipper Tim has been brought up on the tried and tested model of ‘win the toss, bat first’, but when presented with an overly green and muddy looking deck the opening batsman in him just couldn’t go with the plan.

Hampstead were sent in, but with Wajid ‘5 minutes away’ at the start Amit Shanker showed his versatility by stepping in at the last minute to take the new ball even though he hadn’t bowled all season. The match started with 2 maidens and Tim’s decision looked somewhat justified. But it was only a matter of time before Hampstead skipper Fergal Walter found his form on a pitch that played remarkably true despite its unsightly appearance. He provided a batting master class, working the singles and punishing anything loose to the boundary.

111 for 0 at drinks and it quickly became a game of ‘run containment’ in the hope we could limit the Hampstead score and chase down whatever they posted in their 40 overs given our strong batting line up. The introduction of Saurav proved vital, as did the fielding intervention from Bernard at long off. He broke the dangerous opening stand with an unbelievable catch just inside the boundary rope running at full pace. This provided the disruption in momentum to the Hampstead innings that we were seeking (as too did the very generous decision of Fergal to retire out when he reached his century shortly thereafter).

Despite some decent innings by the Hampstead middle order, 247 seemed a very gettable score.

Jai and Nitin opened up for KCC, with Jai especially setting the tone with his glorious stroke play. It seemed a wasted opportunity when he was dismissed for 30, but Amit and Nitin carried us strongly to drinks with our score on par with the Hampstead innings and just under 7 runs per over required from the last 20. A combination of stellar bowling and batsmen fatigue slowed the run rate after Nitin was smartly stumped for 63, and as we entered the final 10 overs the required rate now stood just above 9 an over. Ledger, on the march for runs, lofted one to deep square leg where the catch was taken but with the no-ball being signalled an easy run was to be had. Chris rather fancied a gentle stroll to the other end and was run out! When Amit’s anchoring innings of 75 came to an end, and Tim had struck his first ball for four the equation stood at 31 runs from 12 balls. Fergal Walter took the penultimate over, removing David and conceding only 6 runs.

So, 25 to get in the last over with their gun opening bowler back on. Obviously it seemed too much, even for Tim (batting at 6 for a combination of reasons – slight quad strain, children ‘management’ etc) and non-striker Saurav who hadn’t faced a delivery. The first ball was a dot down the leg side. Maybe it was a wide but then we wouldn’t have had the same intensity of the ‘remember the name’ moment that was about to occur. Second ball went over long on for a six. As did the third ball but a touch deeper – over the clubhouse. There was a long hold up as fielders moved about and skipper Ferg had a long tête-à-tête with the bowler. To no avail as the following ball, expectantly pitched shorter, was deposed for another six over wide long on. 7 runs off 2 balls required. Tim sliced the next ball and the frantic long off fielder circled under the skier for a long time but couldn’t hold it. With the double duly completed (Saurav suddenly becoming a strong contender for MoM) that left 5 off the last ball for victory. Another conversation between skipper and bowler. The ball comes in, a length ball, which Tim hits inside out for a six over extra cover – an incredible shot to cap off an incredible innings (33 in just 9 balls). We have seen some amazing knocks from Tim, but this was something else. Teeing off from the first ball, hitting proper well-timed strokes without losing his shape and just the sheer consistency of hitting to finish the game off.

The KCC contingent rushed onto the field and the beers certainly tasted rather sweet on the Hampstead terrace post match.


Hail the conquering hero