We let the game slip from our hands as panic set in towards the end and what appeared to be a close game ended up in an easy win for Villa Park. We posted a decent total but bowlers could not penetrate a very solid Villa Parkbatting line resulting in a loss. Please find the match summary below:
Toss: Hawks won the toss and elected to bat first
Hawks 159/9 in 30 overs
Villa Park 160/5 in 28.2 overs
Today conditions were not ideal to bat but not worst either so the consensus was to bat first and post 150+. We had confidence on our bowling that we can defend smallish totals however today we had good runs on the board but failed to capitalize. Shwetal and Romeen opened the innings but we suffered an early loss as Romeen 5(3) got caught after hitting a lovely boundary. Pramod looked solid even without practice and opened up hitting a lovely straight 6. Shwetal batted extremely well and got us off to a great start. The score raced to 57/1 in 8 overs with both batsmen well set, however 9th over resulted in double blow when Pramod 17(23) got caught behind followed by Rishi 0(4) and all of a sudden we were in a spot of bother with score at 57/3 in 9 overs. I sent Ranga R who batted very sensibly with Shwetal and took the score to 99/3 in 21 overs. Shwetal batted with lot of authority playing shots all around and keeping a healthy run rate while Ranga kept nudging around. Shwetal 47(62) was next to go as he tried to cut lose and hit some big shots. We started to lose our way as Ranga got caught after adding 18(40) which may look a bit slow but it was need of the hour to consolidate. Kishore 3(7) got stumped trying to play a big shot and we found ourselves at110/6 in 23.3 overs. Anshul 4(7) failed once again as he tried to hit a big shot but ball jumped on him taking the leading edge. Manav played a crucial innings today at a situation when score was 114/7 in 25 overs. His back to back 6s at the most critical time of the game helped big time as all of a sudden score reached to 130/7 in 26 overs. Umair 3(4) was the 8th wicket we lost as we got in danger of getting all out when score was just 133/8 in 27 overs. I was the next man in but got run out on a direct throw from boundary after adding just 4(5). Lakshya 9*(5) and Manav 30*(21) got us to a very competitive 159/9 in 30 overs. It was indeed a great effort by Manav and Lakshya (both of them deserve to get promoted in the batting order but that is a different story) as they got us from 140/9 to 159/9 in final 2 overs.
The game was on and we felt that we can make inroads in Villa Park's strong batting line. Lakshya provided a dream start picking up a wicket in his first over. Kishore bowled couple of quick overs from lake end but Lakshya was having a dream day as he picked up two more wickets and got us on top with score at 20/3 in 5 overs. I had to change him as he got an injury on his foot trying to stop a quick straight drive but Rishi and Anshul did a superb job in restricting the run rate. Anshul picked up 4th wicket when score reached 37/4 in 10th over. We kept the pressure on as Villa Parkwas rebuilding. We had an upper end at drink break with score at 57/4 in 15 overs. With 103 needed in 15 overs with 6 wickets in hand we felt we have a 60% to 40% advantage. I introduced myself and Pramod but both of us started leaking runs. I was expensive today (5-0-37-0) while Pramod (4-0-23-1) wasn't at his best either, however he picked up 5th wicket when score reached 79/5 in 19 overs. At that point, they started to play some big shots clearing the boundaries by a distance. I brought back Anshul but he got hit in his 5th over but overall his spell of 5-1-20-1 was very decent. They were going great guns as panic set in our ranks and momentum completely shifted in their way. Kishore (4-0-27-0) wasn't at his best today while Rishi 6-0-28-0 bowled a lovely spell. The problem was that 6th wicket was not coming as I tried several bowling options. I brought back Lakshya who bowled a great spell of 4.2-0-23-3 picking up early wickets but it was a totally different ball game at that time. They needed 30 off 5 overs with 5 wickets in hand and we were feeling as if the game is already lost. We could not create any genuine opportunities as they batted very sensibly milking us for singles with an odd 4 or 6 in an over. I tried myself and Pramod again but to no avail as they got home with 10 balls to spare and 5 wickets in hand. In the hindsight, I feel I made few captaincy errors noted below:
1) Anshul should have been bowled out on his first spell...holding him back for 2 overs did not make sense!
2) Lakshya could have been brought earlier for a second spell because he was in great rhythm. I brought him back when 30 runs were needed in 5 overs.
3) We could have tried someone with slightly lower pace (like Sundeep bowled in last few games) because ball jumps at lower pace creating opportunities.
But I must say all these if, but and maybe statements are valid but in the hindsight the fact of the matter is that I tried major (if not all) resources but they truly played well. Uzair and Zeyad played chance less innings and looked in complete control so I am not sure what else could have been tried!
We are now at 3/5 wins but need to get back strongly to stay within top 6. We will discuss the match with Hawks think tank (Deepak, Pramod, myself) to figure out what different we should have done.