Match report: Elite v N2, 16th May 2015, Perivale

A sunny Saturday in May saw N2 head down to the West London suburb of Perivale - to
be specific, the Ealing Central Sports Ground (sandwiched between the Central Line
and the A40) for the away fixture against regular opponents Elite CC. Once everyone
had turned up (we started late; I blame the North Circular) it was agreed that the
game would be a limited-overs affair; each innings to last 35 overs which is Elite's
preference, with a seven-over limit per bowler and anything down the leg side to be
given as wide. The hosts won the toss and elected to bat first.

With two newcomers to the N2CC ethos of cricket and one returnee after nearly a year
(two provided by Dee Hingorani and another from Dave Reynolds) Captain Bhatt opened
the bowling with Faisal Abbas (who we'll be playing against next week) and it wasn't
long before the wickets came - Abbas, who was keeping it nice and straight, outside
off-stump enticed an edge to wicket-keeper Emile Bolt in his first over, and Shai
bowled the other opener out in the next one ... Elite on 8 for 2, looking good N2!

A period of slow-and-steady consolidation followed with Elite's third-wicket
partnership taking the score to 42 off 13 overs before we got another breakthrough,
with first-change bowler Saqib getting an edge which Emile held.

N2's fielding was generally good, although a very deep boundary did assist in the
prevention of fours. It's always worth remembering that fielders need to get their
bodies behind the ball when stopping singles, although special mention must go to
Dave Reynolds who stopped one with his shin (ouch!). There were, alas, several
dropped catches, and special mention to Nick Young who, after taking an important
catch last week decided he didn't want to repeat the feat... twice! First at mid-off
and the second at third man. Apologies were begrudgingly accepted by the bowlers
because if nothing else, Nick is an N2 man.

Ben Luder was brought into the attack and conceded 25 from his two overs although it
was more like three due to the no-balls which sailed over the batsman's head and
nearly evaded the keeper!. However, he did get an important wicket of a batsman who
was hitting out (caught by Hingorani). Reynolds proved more economical and had to
wait until his fifth over before he got a wicket with an LBW shout. Had it hit bat
before hitting pad? To be honest, we weren't sure but the umpire was, and so the
batsman had to go. At the other end, Nick Young's bowling was expensive but he too
got a wicket when the batsman swung and missed at a straight one - oh the deception
of the slower bowler who bowled it even slower. Hingorani also picked up a wicket
which meant that everyone who bowled for N2 got something although the bowling was,
generally speaking, costly in ways other than mere runs conceded off the bat. Thanks
mostly to the leg-side rule, extras was Elite's
second-highest scorer with our bowlers conceding 27 wides. On the plus side,
wicket-keeper Bolt didn't concede any byes - again!.

As the Elite innings entered into the final few overs, opening bowlers Bhatt and
Faisal came back into the attack with a view to keeping the run-rate down, and the
skipper picked up two more wickets - one bowled, the other a fine caught-and-bowled.
The innings concluded with the hosts on 174 for 9.

N2 bowling

Bhatt, S 7-1-18-3
Abbas. F 7-2-15-1
Saqib 7-1-26-1
Luder, B 2-0-25-1
Reynolds, D 6-0-32-1
Young, N 4-0-33-1
Hingorani, D 2-0-11-1

A target of 175 off 35 overs was easily calculated to 5 runs per over, and after the
tea-time shout went out for volunteers to open the batting a new opening pair of Bob
Luder and Dave Reynolds walked out to begin our response. It started slowly with six
runs from the first three overs but then Elite had started slowly too. Bob's early
departure (caught and bowled) brought Saqib to the crease and the second-wicket
partnership took the score up to 44 before Dave fell (LBW) in the tenth over. Having
volunteered to bat higher up in the order than usual, Young once again got caught
out before he could score any runs, although his departure brought Faisal to the
crease and he helped Saqib to take the score to 86 (run-rate now up to 4.7) before
falling victim to another Elite catch. Saqib reached his fifty with a boundary but
departed, clean-bowled, in the 23rd over (his innings, 58 in total, included nine
fours and the only six of the game), and in the next
over Hingorani also went with nine runs to his name.

With ten overs to go, N2 were on 125 for 6; the required run-rate was where we
wanted it to be (five an over) and we were in almost the same position as Elite had
been in their innings (they'd been on 124 for 5 at this stage); like them, we
benefitted from the leg-side rule with a certain Mr Wides adding 28 to our total.
N2's hopes now rested on Emile, who was looking for the boundaries, and captain Shai
who was looking to keep the scoreboard ticking over; between them, they kept the
run-rate at the required level and for a couple of overs it was looking as though we
might be able to chase this one down - but then Shai got caught with an attempted
smash over mid-wicket ending up as a back of the bat top-edge to the wicketkeeper -
enough said. The skipper, by the way, was one of six of our batsmen to be caught
out, which is telling given the dropped catches in our innings - catches really do
win matches!

With Shai out, Ben Luder came out to the crease and quickly departed with a golden
duck, as did George Causer - playing his first game of cricket for six years - with
an LBW that left no room for debate. Last man Robbie Robertson came out to assist
Emile in a run-chase that had quickly gone from looking sort-of do-able to a forlorn
hope, with Elite successfully preventing a rotation of the strike by letting one of
Emile's hits go for four as opposed to allowing the batsmen to just run a single so
they could rotate the strike for the next over. Elite then brought their opening
bowler back on, Robbie got caught at point and that was that - Elite won by 26 runs.

There are some positives to take from the game, and also a few things that can be
improved. At least we made more of a game of it than the last time we played Elite!

N2 batting

Luder, Bob Caught 3
Reynolds, D LBW 11
Saqib Bowled 58
Young, N Caught 0
Abbas, F Caught 8
Hingorani, D Caught 9
Bolt, E (W) Not Out 17
Bhatt, S (C) Caught 10
Luder, Ben Bowled 0
Causer, G LBW 0
Robertson, R Caught 0

TOTAL 148 all out

N2 Man of the Match: A fifty and a wicket - that would be SAQIB in his first outing
for the club.

N2 Champagne Moment (per Report writer - Young): Bowlers are always frustrated when
fielders drop catches, so on a day when we dropped four this has to go to skipper
SHAI BHATT for his caught-and-bowled; showing us how it's done off his own bowling!

N2 Champagne Moment (per Captain): The superb teamwork and spirit that the N2CC
(select) team played in even though it could have been a frustrating afternoon for
some with dropped catches, mis-fields and a missing skipper from time to time
looking after his kids