Vinay steps up
Highgate Wood, 8/8/2020
Strongroom won by 2 wickets
Jesmond Jaguars: 202-8 [Frost 90*, Lewis 41]
Strongroom: 204-8 [P.Lichtenstern 69]
View the Scorecard
Despite COVID regulations prohibiting use of the scoreboard at Highgate Wood, the equation in the final over of this thrilling match was clear and simple. 13 runs to win off 6 balls, one wicket remaining. When Vinay Venkateshan sent the first ball sailing over square leg for six the pendulum swung Strongroom’s way. Two dot balls later and the match was back in the balance. 7 off 3. Vinay almost repeated his trick, landing a one bounce four just inside the square leg boundary to leave three runs required for the win. A conundrum for the batsmen. Should they look for a single and expose last man Mario Picceri to the strike? In the end it didn’t matter, as Vinay smoked the next delivery through the covers to complete a captain’s innings and a nail-biting chase of 203 with one ball to spare.
On an unusually well-behaved pitch at the Woods, Jesmond Jaguars total was imposing but not insurmountable. Strongroom’s chase was built around an impressive debut innings from opener Paul Lichtenstern (69), who supplemented controlled punishment of any bad balls with astute running between the wickets. With the support of Gwyn Jones (18) and Ben Hartridge (23), Paul laid a solid foundation and Strongroom were 100-2 at drinks. But while everyone in the middle order chipped in with valuable runs (Bertie Weston-Davies straight-driven six was a particular highlight for the spectators), no-one was able to make the definitive contribution until Vinay’s final over heroics saw the Room over the line.
Earlier in the day, the Jaguars had found runs hard to come by against the miserly lines and lengths of Mario Picceri and another debutant, Tim Gillies. Even the loss of the talismanic Guy Wilson to a hamstring injury could not derail the early Strongroom pressure. The visitor’s innings only really got going when the fourth wicket brought Frost (90*) to the crease alongside opener Lewis (41). As the partnership threatened to drag the game out of Strongroom’s grasp, captain Vinay turned to Riaz Ashraf (8-1-20-3) who soon had Lewis pinned LBW to complete his three-fer of top-order wickets. Frost found himself running out of able partners until Chataway (18*) threw caution to the wind and hoiked the Jaguars’ total beyond 200.
There were wickets all down the bowling card for the Room, even for Ayon Waliuzzaman’s pick and mix of seamers, off spin and leg breaks. Although 400 runs were scored on the day, the final outcome may have been determined by Strongroom’s slightly deeper bowling reserves.
In the finale however, there was only Vinay’s ice-cool clean hitting to see Strongroom to a famous victory. The photo below captures the penultimate ball which Vinay crisply slotted to the boundary.
Written By: B.Hartridge