Mad Dogs General David Quirk has now captained the side in 12 games this season, and in every game he has participated in the coin toss, and lost it. The mathematically inclined members of the side calculated the odds on this to be 1 in 4096, roughly similar to the chances that he would score a century today felt some of the less charitable among his soldiers.
The Dogs were asked to bat, and the skipper himself went out to bat with his old partner, Brigadier Lawrence. The 1 in 4096 odds on the century were soon shown to be reasonable, as Quirk departed, bowled for 0 (4 balls) by Ajay in the first over. Oh well, every general is only as good as his privates, and we all knew that Quirk was in possession of a splendid set of troops. Sergeant-Major Coates replaced him, and laid about the rather decent early bowling with gusto, bawling the ball to the boundary with some impressive shots on his way to a run a ball 18 (2 x 4, 1 x 6) before being beaten by a nice slower ball from Madhura who bowled well and is a lot less innocuous than he looks. With the score on 24 for 2 in the sixth over, some retrenchment was in order, and Corporal Haydon provided exactly that, playing carefully and competently to rebuild the innings.
The Brigadier was also playing steadily, but fell with the score on 37, smashing a wide ball from Ajay into the covers with massive power but straight at Sayan who clung on to a tough chance, head-high (7, 21 balls, 1 x 4). The Nawab of Prasanna then strode to the crease. Would this be the day he showed his class for all to see, and did his talent true justice? The Dogs were in trouble, and he recognized it, waiting for all of three balls before hitting his first 4, a full eleven balls before smashing his first 6. This was impressive restraint and a sign of true discipline.
But having acquired the taste, Prasanna opened up, and how. Boundaries burst from his bat, mayhem reigned, carnage ensued. Columbia skipper Ashok, a steady, wiley medium-pacer, brought himself on; his first over disappeared for 19, a crushing psychological blow, his second for 22, a coup de grace that wrecked Columbia's spirit as much as their bowling strategy.
Prasanna Clips to leg.
As the sixes and fours were piled on, Prasanna reached 50 in 27 balls, and he then ACCELERATED, scoring the second fifty off only 18 balls, to reach a staggering century from 45 balls, within only 12 overs of arriving at the crease. (see bottom of page for a video clip - N) Haydon was quite content to play second fiddle, while ticking the score along to keep Prasanna on strike and the bowlers honest, in a stand of 75 in 8.2 overs to which his own contribution was an important 20. He eventually fell, caught off Arvind after an excellent supporting innings (43 balls, 2 x 4).
Lieutenant Thornton replaced him and hit one glorious 4 of his own before getting a leading edge off Arvind to be caught off a skier for 4 (5 balls). With the score on 139 for 5 in the 21st over, it was essential that some solidity was provided at the other end, for Prasanna to be able to continue his onslaught, and that bulwark was provided by Captain Palmer, all defiance and blockability. The contrasting batting styles gelled nicely, as another important partnership of 63 was assembled in 7 overs, to which Palmer's contribution was 3 (but they were all good shots..).
Eddie "Blockability" Palmer at work
Prasanna had passed the century mark by now, and simply carried on with the slaughter, savaging the veteran leg-spinner Prabhu in particular. In desperation, Columbia called on fast bowler Venu, who was supposed to be resting a dodgy back for another Final the following day. But extreme situations require extreme solutions, and Venu finally ended Prasanna's knock, with a catch driven out to deep mid-on from a full toss. Prasanna's final score was 129, scored from 63 balls, with 11 sixes and 11 fours, several of them being really rather remarkable in their timing and execution, to the extent that his watching team mates exchanged glances that said "how the #### did he do that?".
Prasanna - out for 129? No sweat...
Sepoy Sood came and went, bowled first ball by Venu, then Lance-Corporal Harrison strode in to face the hat-trick ball. It thudded into the pads, and boy, did it look close! The watching spectators could only speculate about what the batsman's reaction might have been had he been the bowler. But, the reprieve was merely transient, as the very next ball also crashed into the pads, and this time the finger went up, giving Venu three wickets in four balls.
At 202 for 8 in the 29th over, there was still some work to do, so Colonel Boyke was sent in to hit the closing overs around. He soon took a stinging blow on the forearm from Venu, but smashed a six and a four of revenge before the arm stiffened up and he was forced to retire hurt, to be replaced by Private Moore. Palmer's marathon knock then ended with a drive to cover (7, off 34 balls), a slow but truly important rearguard action. With 9 balls still to go, Boyke bravely came back out, and a few more useful runs were scampered, before Moore was bowled for 2 (3 balls) slogging fruitlessly at Venu in the final over, leaving Boyke on 13 not out (11 balls) and the total on 225 all out from 34.1 overs. This was considered to be a distinctly useful total, in clammy conditions with a moist outfield and a slow pitch. Of course, the healthiness of the total owned almost everything to Prasanna's majesty. "We are not worthy, great one".
and Boyke opened the Dogs bowling and did well, the latter taking the
first wicket when Gokul (6) fended one to short midwicket where, who
else but Prasanna ran in and dived forward to clutch the chance. Haydon
was, as always, unlucky not to take a wicket (sorry, we know that's a
cliché, all too often used about him). The second wicket fell at 27,
thanks to a nice piece of fielding by Quirk in the covers, the pick up
and throw to Palmer leaving Raj (4) out by a yard. Quirk himself soon
bowled Sayan for 4, then a few balls later, he trapped opener Rajesh
LBW for 25, to leave the Columbia innings in the mire on 42 for 4;
classy bowling, nice float and dip.
and Prabhu then repaired some of the damage, Venu hitting Quirk out of
the attack, Prabhu playing sensibly, picking up ones and twos as a
stand of 48 was assembled. Venu was looking dangerous, but Coates
struck in the middle of an excellent spell, Venu driving hard and low
to point, where Haydon held an difficult catch down by his ankles to
eliminate the danger-man for 32
The score was now 90 for 5 in the 15th
over, so unless Columbia had a Prasanna clone hidden in the late order,
they were going to be struggling from here on in. And so it turned out
to be, as Harrison and Coates turned the screw with some very steady
bowling to conservative field settings. Harrison dismissed the obdurate
Prabhu for 15, a sweep ending up right in the hands of Thornton at
deep-square, then Suraj (6) drove the same bowler unerringly out to
long-off where Quirk judged a tough catch very well. Fair reward for
some good, tight, containing bowling.
The required run-rate was now
approaching, then passing double figures, but Quirk hammered the lid
onto the coffin, resenting every single that Columbia sneaked, not
acknowledging that a run a ball was a losing return for Columbia at
this stage. Arvind and Ashok put on 46, but it took them 8 overs to do
so, about half the required rate. Inevitably, chancy runs were
attempted, leading to the run out of Arvind for 27, Coates firing a
throw into Palmer's gloves.
Ajay (1) was bowled all ends up by
Prasanna, and the end came when Ashok (24) attempted a suicidal single
to try to keep the strike in the penultimate over, but was thrown out
by the bowler, Prasanna, who therefore added a run out to his catch and
wicket. Madhura remained on 6 not out, the total of 167 all out from 33.4
runs leaving the Dogs winners by a worthy 58 runs. After due
consideration was given to the contributions of Sood and Moore to the
Dogs' victory, the man of the match award was eventually settled onto
the shoulders of Prasanna (for his bowling and fielding of course).
Despite tossing in vain, General Quirk handled his Privates with skill,
thereby placing himself and his team in a position to receive the
impressive looking, brand new League trophy after the game.