Where does the fault lie in a game like this? For want of a couple more bravura smashes over the top, we would be celebrating the win of all wins. The same goes for bowling eight fewer wides, two fewer long-hops, and so the list goes on.
For various operational and unavoidable reasons, but disappointingly, we could not begin the game with 11 players. On losing the toss, therefore, we were unsurprisingly asked to field. This didn’t stop Ravi Sujanani, who took a smart C&B with his third ball. It didn’t affect young debutante Nick Chelleri, who came on breathing fire and zipped a few snorters past the nose of the Pakistan Club top order. Saracens grit was in evidence as he pulled up before delivering the penultimate ball of his spell, vomited copiously onto the Po Kong astroturf outfield, took a deep breath, and pounded in for a last dot ball: grit personified.
Pakistan Club have generally been rated the number one Saturday outfit and they soon had us toiling. They smashed the Saracens attack around, although we did bowl too many loose deliveries in our 35 overs. When up against this kind of batting we do need to be more disciplined in bowling to our fields; we were left facing a target of 284 despite sterling work in the field, never stopping chasing but, overall, doing more chasing than should have been the case.
Many sides would have rolled over facing that sort of monumental target. Not this side. We play as a team, but it is not invidious to point out the incredible talent we have in a player like Peter Wooden. He scored 148 runs, batting from ball 1 to over 33, and flayed the Pakistan attack all over the New Territories. In his penultimate over, he smashed 23 runs, and we were left needing an eminently gettable 12 from the last over of the innings.
Peter had been superbly aided by Ravi Sujanani, who carried more than his share of the cricketing burden for the second time in two days. Ravi and Peter put on an immense opening stand of more than 150, setting the stage for the rest of the Saracens to chip in. Shahn Malik showed his class on debut, and key contributions down the order came from Waqar Dawood, Chris McAnulty, and Yogesh Mahtani.
Ultimately, we fell short. The post-match inquest was painful for the nearness of the triumph, and we should be proud of how we fought. The other Saturday sides will recognize that this Saracens unit can chase any target, will not wilt, and when bowling with slightly more discipline, will terrorise all batting lineups.
Saracens were: Peter Wooden, Ravi Sujananai, Shahn Malik, Nadeem Siddiqui, Roshan Dadlani, Waqar Dawood, Chris McAnulty, Yogesh Mahtani, Tim Parkinson (c), Rob Gill (wk), Nick Chelleri