The KCC Crusaders and KCC Tartars met over Chinese New Year in an eagerly anticipated annual Derby clash.
Comforted by the magnificent sight of the revered KCC turf, but assailed by the frigid cold 8 degree morning, many were no doubt reappraising their initial eagerness to play.
Before the start, Mrs Vachha regaled the two teams with stories from the 60’s and 70’s when her husband - Jungu dominated the HK cricket scene with his fine exploits on the field and generous contributions off it. Jungu was at the forefront of developing the game at both club and colony. He also bestowed the gift of his son Shiroy to our proud club. The champion KCC Saturday team now receives the perpetual Jungu Vachha shield in his honour.
Shiroy kindly volunteered to stand once again as adjudicator in the annual blockbuster and the Crusaders won the toss and elected to bat. Sean Gerald Montague and his mate Luke “Keithy” Hyland started proceedings for the Crusaders, putting on a solid 50 opening run stand. Damian “K Dog” Kelleher joined the fray after Gerald who was looking solid, prematurely departed.
Kelleher was playing himself in, happy as a dog with two tails, at his own good pace. Keithy, at the other end, was looking the goods. Mixing proper cricket shots with the odd lofted mortar attack - It was a shock to all when he was dismissed, caught off a top edge for 49 fluent runs. The productive second wicket partnership with K Dog was thus ended.
Sunny Bhimsaria, a battle hardened Crusader veteran at 18, played a couple of nice shots before getting out.
The acting captain was next and he quickly came and went, looking particularly pathetic against the wily Tartars bowling. K Dog stuck to his guns however -upping the tempo as he went and providing a robust pillar to the innings. With five overs to go, the Crusaders at 170 four 4 off 30 overs, still needed a GRANDSTAND finish though. Leigh Stewart was the next batsman to stick his bonce over the parapet. The ex St Peters Adelaide 1st 11 swung his bat with measured and brutal efficiency, clobbering 24 runs off the final over alone.
Leigh’s vicious late order salvo, along with K Dog’s fine 75 not out, helped the Darers to 207 off their allotted 35 overs. Considering the excellent Tartar bowling, the frosty weather conditions and slower than normal outfield - it was felt that this was a good total to defend.
K Dog and Chris “Horses” McAnalty (snitch, muck raker and permanent number 11) opened the bowling. Both dished it up to a determined and experienced Tartar opening duo, who were proving hard to dislodge. It was again the phantom sniffer, the Dog, whom DELIVERED….. finally inducing a rash shot from Anoop, who like many before him have been dismissed trying to hit the famous “change up” over the top. The Tartars were 1 for 60 and the Dog was imposing himself.
Promising junior Kinchit Shah went very quickly, after two balls, to a deliciously well flighted Dog delivery inducing an edge, eventually caught at first slip after deflecting off the keeper. The Dog was now on fire. But the Tartars, at 2 for 74 after 17 overs had an ace an ACE up their sleeve - Rahul Sharma at four, scorer of 100 centuries for the KCC alone. Rahul came out dancing around the crease like Sammy Davis Jnr, caressing, bopping, driving and flicking balls in a typically classy manner. Ravi Lulla, not to be outdone, was profiting from some fine onside play, registering a well compiled half century.
With these two together the Darers had lost their erstwhile confidence. While Keithy was bowling well, along with Andy Steward (ex Darer and Del captain), the much needed breakthrough was still not forthcoming. It was somewhat unexpected, when the acting captain, relieving Andy, to the smirks and snickers of the lads, actually made a breakthrough - bowling Lulla as he missed an attempted drive through mid-wicket. Taking full advantage of the fact that he could not be taken out of the bowling attack unless he himself decided to do so, the acting captain stubbornly persisted, despite the continued simpers.
Now emboldened by a second wicket in ten years against the Tartars – he reminded Sharma politely that to get out to such a rarely engaged and pedestrian form of medium pace would probably not evoke fond memories. The intrepid remark was quickly regretted though, when countered with animated discourse and a cracking cover drive to the boundary from the KCC legend.
With a fired up Sharma threatening to blow the game open and rain merry hell on the Crusaders parade, it was a complete surprise when the acting captain inexplicably accounted for him. A whipped long hop to the only fielder on the leg side, Sunny Bhimsaria, was superbly caught inches off the rope. Sharma had perished for 40.
Andy Steward joined the fray, now totally fed up after repeatedly being called “Leigh” by the acting skipper. All fire and brimstone he delivered, accounting for Mo Khan, caught after skying one to mid-off. The Crusaders were now ahead on all the judges’ scorecards. The Tartars required 50 runs off the last five overs. The near dark artic conditions and the fact the very fastest of the pace bowlers were back, did no favours to their cause.
A faint splash of rain was quickly followed by a fierce downpour and the final kick in the teeth was delivered - as the heavens opened up. The hallowed KCC turf was drenched and all players quickly frozen to the bone. With a piping hot bath, a stiff drink, a beef pie and the warmer confines of Robin’s nest beckoning - Shiroy sensibly awarded the Crusaders the game under the Duckworth Lewis (K Dog and Nugget) mandate.
Until next time..!
Crusaders 201 for 4 off 35 overs (K Hyland 49, D Kelleher 75 no, Stewart 26; S Daood 2/ 37) defeated the Tartars 153 for 5 off 30 overs (R Lulla 65, R Sharma 40; D Kelleher 2/40, A Barnet 2/35) on superior run rate.
Man of the Match: Damian “ Knackers” Kelleher
Submitted by: Anthony Barnet