What a victory. Tartars were the KCC form side, but they came up against a Saracens unit absolutely committed to a massive team mission after the heartbreaking penultimate-ball loss to Kai Tak. There were debriefs in the dark again last Saturday, yet this time the discussions in the Saracens circle were upbeat, filled with laughter and the pride of a tough job well done.
Saracens won the toss and batted. Deprived of some key individuals during the week, we nevertheless had 11 players good and true as Saracens legend Matt Collins and Vikash Vaswani faced the Tartars opening bowlers. Vikash looked in good touch but then got a Narang in-ducker and was bowled early on. Out strode Wooden at 3. Peter and Matt made a key platform for the entire innings by the rate at which they scored; by the time Matt Collins was out just shy of his fifty, they had scored at roughly 8 an over and we had more than 140 on the board. Zubi Nizami then unfurled a range of classy shots all round the wicket, elegance personified, keeping the run rate in the same zone.
His departure led to short stays at the crease for Parkinson and Chan, but then we saw the batting adventures of Waqar Dawood: the WaqAttack. One towering straight six was followed by a reverse sweep for another maximum, and Saracens were hurtling towards a very solid score. Once again, the mainstay was Peter Wooden, whose 117 was a study in pure class. Late contributions from Kunal Parwani, Robin Gill, and a last couple of balls from Nick Chelleri left Saracens handily placed at 266 for 9 after our 35 overs.
A team needing to score at 8 an over really wants the kind of start that Saracens got; Kunal Parwani and Nick Chelleri never game them that kind of opportunity. A really excellent tight opening spell put Tartars on the back foot, the pressure resulting in skied slogs and suicidal singles. The first wicket went to Kunal as a fierce clip through midwicket was snaffled by the ever-excellent Louis Chan.
Saracens kept the pressure on all through the Tartars response; our volume never waned in the field, our commitment never flagged. These were big pluses after our last two losses, and we played much more as a side, a true team, than we had done recently. Waqar bowled with great control, as did Peter Wooden, and gradually – although not linearly – we broke the back of the opposition. We still gave away too many wides – the captain holds his hand up as culpable here also – but we never let Tartars build key partnerships. We played great cricket from the first ball until Nick Chelleri’s yorker took the final Tartar wicket, and it was a deserved and very satisfying non-linear Saracens victory.
Saracens were:, Matt Collins, Vikash Vaswani, Peter Wooden, Zubair Nizami, Tim Parkinson (c), Louis Chan, Waqar Dawood, Azeem Ebrahim, Kunal Parwani, Robin Gill, Nick Chelleri