Sun 10 July Chingford Drawn (saved)
They 220/6 in 47 overs (Tom Balkwill 96, Lewis Dixon 50*, Ross Simmons 19, Eddy Barreto 3/40, Saurav Sen 2/72)
We 132/9 in 39 overs (Harsha Gandadi 38, Jai Singh 32, Saurav Sen 15, Steve Thorne 4/21, George Duke 3/58, Scott Prestedge 2/22)
Chingford is one of the nicer cricket settings that we get to venture to, and on a scorching day with a lightning-fast outfield and dusty wicket, you could have been forgiven for thinking you were in the suburbs of Melbourne in mid-January.
Bowling first, the early signs were ominous for KCC as the Chingford opening batsmen got off to a blazing start. President Amar though stuck with his relentless line and length which eventually put a squeeze on the runs, with Eddy benefitting to snare our first wicket. Saurav and Rohan relieved Eddy and Sunil, and it was Saurav from the top end who did what he invariably does, taking crucial wickets with flight and turn. Suddenly Chingford were 84 for 4 and in some type of trouble.
Alas, class opener Tom Balkwill provided the steady innings that was needed to get Chingford up to a competitive target, falling just short of his century, and when number six Lewis Dixon got to a well-deserved fifty the innings was declared on 220.
Sun 9 August Chingford Drawn (but hard-fought)
We 269/7 in 46 overs (Nitin Chaturvedi 91, Praveen Lekhraj 54, Amit Shanker 36, Adam Sumner 32*, Charan Shetty 29, Talil Sultan 3/68, Scott Prestedge 2/60)
They 236/7 in 42 overs (Nadir Noori 80,, James Bridge 52, Ross Simmons 51*, Charan Shetty 3/58, Wajid Tahir 2/16)
As we pulled into Chingford CC, skipper Rohan thought – “Our side packed with quality batsmen. Win the toss and bat first. Short boundary. Rock hard pitch. Splendid! Truth be told, my car’s temperature gauge read 35C and I had little desire to spend my Sunday afternoon herding cats in the heat”.
Just when he was convinced that calling “Tails” was a mug’s choice, it worked. And as Chingford CC strode out onto the blazing outfield, ready for battle, most of the KCC boys scurried off to find refuge wherever a sliver of shade could be found.
Praveen (54) and Amit’s (36) first wicket stand of 81, steady as it was, did not fully capitalise on the funereal opening attack. As soon as Chingford’s spinners, Sultan and Duke took control of the attack, we found the going tough, slumping to 4 for 114. Nitin took charge of the KCC riposte, soaking up the pressure (and the heat) and stringing together two useful partnerships. First, a watchful 57 with Charan Shetty (29). Then, a craftily timed 70-run late assault with Adam (32), smashing 60-odd in the closing seven overs. You see, by now the opposition had had enough; being hot is bad enough. But being hot and bored? Well that’s just not cricket. Sadly, exhausted by the heat, Nitin fell for a very well made 91 and we declared an over later for what we felt was a par score of 269/7.
The Chingford reply was full of dynamism. The hapless Akhtar, intent on smashing each of the three balls he faced to Mars and beyond, departed in the first over. But his replacement, Nadir Noori, joined James Bridge in a wonderful 127 run stand, dotted with some sweetly timed boundaries and heave-ho’s alike. With the game seemingly slipping away, KCC needed a miracle.
The miracle arrived in the form of hyper-sugared orange squash soon after. Marks & Spencer. Like a newly vaccinated care-worker, Wajid immediately rose to the challenge. After-burners super-charged by the sugar high, he harnessed the blinding light from a setting sun directly behind his bowling arm, slinging down five blistering overs to devastating effect (2-16). His spell killed Chingford’s momentum and allowed Charan to pick away at the other end, registering a 3-for with his wily non-spinners. Suddenly, we were in with a chance to win the game and pressed hard with attacking fields. The match ebbed and flowed with Ross Simmons proving able resistance, using the many gaps to score boundaries and reaching a well made 50 after a slow start. But ultimately, the ask was too large and running out of partners, he decided to fight for a draw instead. Albeit an exciting one. Probably the right result.
Oppo skipper Mike Blake – a friend of KCC and Nomads for many years – was most gracious in his welcome. Match fees were brushed aside in these COVID times. Instead, plenty of Cobras and jugs of bitter splashed about in the warm evening – in a socially distanced manner, of course.
Sun 22 July Chingford Won by 7 wkts
They 236/4 in 43.5 overs (Bassett 61*, Hasan 54*, Ashok 38, Bridge 34, Wajid Tahir 2/22, Sunil Amar 1/27, Nitin Chaturvedi 1/34)
We 240/3 in 34.2 overs (Preetinder Singh 96, Nitin Chaturvedi 54*, David Behar 41, Chetan Malhotra 34, Crego 1/33)
When Sunil is giving you a ride to a game, chances are you’re going to be late. But this was a day when everything typical to Kensington did not hold true. We got there 45 minutes before start of play and were greeted with the sight of Nitin Chaturvedi, who was making his debut as KCC Match Manager – all ready with the team sheet, a plan of attack and a pen to mark changes!!
Nitin followed Matt Marshall copyright strategy and called Tails, lost the toss and was asked to field on a scorching day. Returning from a 2-year hiatus and with family in tow, Akhi (“Axe Man”) opened the bowling with Sunil who, obviously, took the downhill end. Sunil was absolutely miserly conceding only 3 an over; the knee support was clearly working very well. He broke the opening partnership of 74, as Tabrez held on to a sky-er at long off. Tabrez came on to bowl from the uphill end but wasn’t able to stem the flow of runs. Nitin and Wajid bowled in tandem to slow down the runs and get into the wickets. Wajid was the pick of the bowlers, 3 maidens, then two beautifully bowled inswinging yorkers which took middle and leg stumps. Fighting fifties from Jack Bassett and T Hasan, however, enabled Chingford to declare on a decent 236/4, despite a restraining spell from the returning Akhi.
After a short tea, Chetan Malhotra and David Behar set a platform for the chase. Chetan frustrated the fast bowlers with exquisite drives in the cover and extra cover region. David, also of the returning-to-cricket fame, pleasantly surprised everyone by scoring a brisk 41. After Chetan got out LBW for 34 (KCC umpire gave it), Preetinder felt his way for the first 6 balls before starting what can only be described as a brutal assault beautifully executed. David was stumped jumping out once too often (88/2), and Harsha unfortunately managed to twist his knee running between the wickets for a suicidal first run (standard KCC modus operandi) and retired hurt. Nitin replaced Harsha and with Preetinder scored at 8 an over for the majority of our innings. It was sublime cricket, both timing the chase so well, and playing Chingford’s 1st team spinners, unchanged at both ends, with ease. Needing 37 off the last 4 overs the writing was on the wall when Preetinder pinged the leggie two house rows over midwicket. With just 13 runs to win in 10 balls Preetinder was given out LBW (triggered at 96 by another KCC umpire). Chingford smelled a collapse on the cards, although when you have Tim Keleher striding out at No 6, it’s a surprise for any opposition – Timma smashed 10 runs in 3 balls the first of which was hammered for a 4 (nearly a 6). The scores were now level and it was fitting that Nitin, who had played a captain’s knock with an excellent 50, struck the final blow to bring us victory. If it were not a friendly game and we were at Lord’s, there would have been a pitch invasion and pints would have been thrown in the air to celebrate!
Chingford’s MoM was Jack for his well-made 61. MoM for KCC was Preetinder, whose 96 was worth 120 and perhaps his best innings ever for KCC. Drinks and sunset banter were followed by a trip to Lahore Kebab House. It was a great day of cricket, a proud day for any KCC member, not just due to the victory but also to the brand of cricket we played and our friendliness with the opposition that usually results in many return fixtures. We look forward to this game next year!