Final over thriller goes Strongroom's way
Hilly Fields, Lewisham, 8/29/2021
Strongroom won by 3 runs
Strongroom: 180-6 [V.Venkateshan 78]
Millfields: 177-9 [S.Lachlan 83]
View the Scorecard
This turned out to be one of those classic nail-biters that you get once every season or so. Essentially, Millfields were always ahead in their chasing down of 181 - until the final three to four overs, when somehow we stole victory from those gaping jaws of defeat.
But first, let me rewind 75 overs and give you this story from the beginning. We rocked up in Lewisham on a fine August bank holiday, for a rare south-of-the-river fixture, with a somewhat dubious team sheet, featuring players from opposite ends of the non-league cricketing spectrum - i.e. unknown debutants and crusty veterans (including the veteran’s veteran, Andy ‘Metronorme’ Orme, tricked out of semi-retirement by the persuasive Gower bros). We batted first, and I was duly mugged second delivery by a filthy scuttler that barely left the surface. For the next 15 overs the pitch kept very low one at one end and bounced steeply at the other. After 20 overs we were 68-2, with Vinay (78) and Sandeep (26) just starting to look fluent. In the latter overs, Vinay flourished and batted beautifully, and was well supported by Dave G and Bhargav. We were fairly content with our 181. At our level, 180 always feels like something defendable. The pick of Millfields bowlers was wily slow bowler Cooper (1-18).
Not much to report on regarding tea, as we are still in a post-COVID world of DIY tea.
I opted for experience and opened up with two 50-somethings, in the form of Messrs Orme and Picceri. The Metronorme settled into a good line and length and Mario displayed his usual left-arm guile, and they picked up two early wickets, including a most irregular ‘stumping’ for Andy as the ball pinged off Vinay's chest and back onto the stumps. However, a solid partnership then ensued, and for the next 25 overs we were always behind. This partnership was securely marshaled by their skipper, who looked very composed and possessed a nice flick to square leg that we kept feeding. Meanwhile, on our side, while Bhargav’s pace looked quite good he got hit around; Ayon again picked up wickets with his beguiling, drifty, slow stuff; Indrajit was not quite on it; Mario pouched two slip catches - one of them an outstanding left handed diving (collapsing?) effort; DG was suffering from a stiff neck, and dropped a catch at midwicket, whereas I was relieved to take two catches in the deep. And so we entered the final five overs with Millfields requiring 40 to win, but crucially, their skipper still with bat in hand. Our somewhat obvious tactics were to keep the weaker batsman on strike as much as possible, which was difficult as they were tapping and running every ball. However, chasing a total is always tougher, and the pressure finally manifested with two run outs - one of them was the skipper Lachlan (83), needlessly run out as he attempted a single from a delivery that simply went straight through to Vinay behind the stumps. This was the key moment. With six required off my final over and two tailenders at the crease, we closed it down and stole an unlikely victory. The oppo, to their credit, took it very well (and the same thing happened to us the following weekend!).
In the image below we Vinay preparing to face a delivery in his excellent 78*, with the emergency services ready to cater for fainting onlookers as a result of the high excitement this match generated.
Written By: J.Gower