Sunnyvale Through to Prestige Championship!!

Report by Jimmy

Ah! Sunday Cricket…2 words that instantly bring a smile to all our faces.

Ortega Cricket…the smile grows wider!
Vs. Berkeley….oh boy…nobody can stop the gleaming now!!!
Last Sunday, Sunnyvale continued to dominate the cricketing scene as the Blazers took on and defeated Berkeley. For those who have been playing for a while, you know that Berkeley has been our nemesis for a very long time. And every game vs them seems to always come down to the wire. As Rajiv Puli said “We play the same brand of cricket”. It meant that this contest would also be a close one…and it was…
As our team set up the boundary cones, markers and wickets, the Berkeley squad gathered and began their warm up routine. As it true with any successful team, preparation accounts for 90% of your success. Just like us, they too showed up early and were warming up alongside us. Not a common sight but this sent a clear message from one to the other – “we are here to win” As the day progressed, it would be made clear that our will was stronger than theirs.
Skipper Tejas didn’t have quite the auspicious start. We lost the toss and were asked to field first. None the less, the boys went through the catching warm up routine and took the field..filled with fire!
As usual, Arun D an Chetan began the day with some very disciplined bowling. Cheetah stuck on his 3rd delivery as their opener Keshav popped one to Jag in the covers. A cleanly taken catch gave us the early breakthrough. Not to be outdone, 6 deliveries later Arun Daya-mat-kar took out their skipper and top scorer Ashwanth. A sharp catch at square leg by Chetan made sure of it. In the process however, Chetan broke his finger in 2 places. Though he let adrenaline take over and played the entire game.
Mohit and Natwar were beginning to consolidate but a timely bowling change brought in Sparshit who sent Mohit back. It was a hard and low C&B completion by Sparry. Natwar on the other end was beginning to look dangerous but a miscue off Sathy made him pop one up into Nachi’s safe pair of hands. Sathy has been a critical add to the Blazers this post season. And as he has consistently come through this time again – he picked out the danger man.
Berkeley was now 31/4 in 10 overs and their decision to bat after winning the toss was not looking like a good one.
At drinks, the scoreboard read 36/4.
As is typical with the fall season, the dew had gathered all over the outfield. And by now the ball was wet and little heavy which limited our bowlers. On the other side, the experienced Harish and Sid of Berkley hunkered down and decided to stick around for a while. They batted very conservatively and played through the entire session. Our bowlers bowled extremely well though to keep them in check. Multiple overs went by where they could muster up only 1 or 2 runs with the odd maiden in between. Natty bowled a superb spell of 9-2-20-0 to put the pressure on. He was unfortunate to not get a wicket.
At the second drinks break, Berkley were at 73/4.
The third session promised to be exciting. The game dynamic had changed. Now Berkley had wickets in hand and 15 overs in which they could take their chances to put some runs on the board. By now Harish and Sid had their eye in and began to push the scoring rate a bit. A few dropped catches by us helped their cause.
But this didn’t last long. We kept the intensity up and it paid off. In the 32nd over, Cheetah tempted Sid to take the areal route over mid on. Tejas was fielding at long on and made a tremendous ground to reach the ball and in the end. He took a beautiful diving catch. It was an amazing feat!!!
From that point, Berkley could never stabilize. They kept losing wickets at regular intervals and by the 44th over, we wrapped them up for 127. Key bowling performances:
Natty – 9-2-20-0 & 3 catches
Chetan – 9-1-29-4 (with a broken finger)
Sparry – 9-0-26-2
Arun D – 7-0-20-2
Sathy and Shanky – 1 wicket each
What has worked for the Blazers all season long is the intensity with which we have approached every single game, every single over, every single ball. More than skill, it’s this sense of unity and accountability to one another the fuels the fire that they bring. And that same fire is what drove this performance as well.
Now…on to lunch…Yummy rotis with dal and alloo sabzi…and yogurt with rice…ahh!!! We stuffed our bellies!!!
Even though it was a low target for us to chase, we knew that it wouldn’t be as easy because of our history with Berkeley. This was going to be a fight. Jimmy and Jag went in and played well to get things under way. Jag was playing very cautiously to get his eye in while Jimmy put away the odd loose ball to the boundary.
Harish struck first as he took a hell of a catch off his own bowling to send Jimmy back. Natty came in but didn’t stick around for too long thanks to a great effort at backward point. Harish had already picked up 2 wickets. But Jag and Shanky looked very determined and ready to take the game away. Jag specifically was playing a very responsible knock as he put a price on his wicket. He would let the good balls go by, defend the straighter ones and patiently wait for the bad balls to score the runs.
At drinks the scorecards read 48/2.
Shanky was looking great too at the other end with a few lusty blows but was unfortunate to miss-hit one straight to the fielder at point. He fell in the 18th over. Sparry joined the party and looked rock solid from the word go. Jag and Sparry had a fantastic partnership. They took quick singles, converted 1s to 2s and 2s to 3s.- text book Ortega cricket.
Jag’s great stand came to an end unfortunately as he too miss timed a shot straight to the fielder in the covers. He played a gallant knock and worked hard for his 24 off 62 balls. Kudos man. You have come a long way.
But the best was yet to come as Nachi walked in wearing his hat. Oh yeah, that’s confidence…and the fact that they had spinners operating at both ends. High in confidence, Nachi began in typical fashion by getting his body behind the ball and frustrating the opposition. He did a great job of supporting Sparry who was beginning to cut lose. Unfortunately for Sparry, he couldnt contain himself and skied one straight to the fielder on the boundary at cow corner. It was Natwar and he didn’t make a mistake. Sparry was done for the day.
At the second drinks break, the match was nicely poised well at 85/5. This was going to be interesting….again!
Nachi was looking really solid as he held his end. On the other end we hoped that Sathy could move the scoreboard and take the game away form Berkley. But at that very moment, he too hit one straight to the fielder at long off and walked back to the pavilion. We were 88/6 as Tejas walked to the middle.
One can only imagine what was going through the minds of the opposition at that moment. It’s easy to feel the game is just 4 deliveries away from victory – but in walked Tejas – who has been in the top 3 run getters for the team. Yeah baby! Sunnyvale bats really deep!
Today was not Tejas’s day however. Berkeley brought back Harish from the other end and he got Tejas to swing at a ball only to miss and it knocked off his bail.
Now at 98/7 in 37 overs, things were beginning to swing in Berkeley’s direction. With 30 runs to win off the last 8 overs, Berkley felt good about their chances. And their key bowlers Harish, Sid and Mohit were doing their part in keeping the pressure on. Mohit had an extraordinary spell of 9-2-14-2 (econ 1.56) and did his part while the others kept the economy rate under 3 as well. Harish bagged 3 key wickets of our season’s top scorers:  Jimmy, Natty and Tejas.
But little did they know that the next batsman would be Arun DayaMatKar. Probably one of the straightest bats in the club and a very cool customer. Arun and Nachi began to knock the ball around a bit and kept getting the 1s and 2s. Again – text book Ortega cricket.
We knew that we were one good over away from winning the game. And that came in the 40th over when Berkley brought in Karthik to bowl. Nachi and Arun collected 7 runs in that over. The next one brought in 5, then 6 and then 5 again! And now we needed 4 off the last 2 overs to win the game and proceed to the Finals.
Arun scored the winning runs with a classy on drive for a single. What a brilliant innings under pressure to keep cool and bring home a win. But it was Nachi at the other end who was the backbone of the lineup and saw us home. He scored a brilliant 29* of 61 deliveries under extremely tough conditions to see us through. Amazing! Absolutely Amazing!!!
So now we move on to the Finals. This Sunday we take on Fresno who have already stamped their way into Elite division. Although wining this game will not guarantee us a spot in Elite div, it will be an important measure of where we are as a team. Plus, we cash in $1000!!
There is no doubt though that we will play our brand of “Sunnyvale” cricket. Play with fire! Play to win!! But most importantly…Play as ONE!!!
See you all at the game!

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