Jaws of Relegation to T20 Championship – Bobby Peddireddy



A disappointing 2015 40 over season was behind us, we were able to scrape together enough wins to stave off relegation, and lived to fight another year in Division I. While the teams were fighting it out in the 40 over playoffs, we were on the sidelines with regret, and for better or worse this gave us the will to fight in the T20 Playoffs and prove it to ourselves that we belong in Division I.



First up was the mighty ICC, fresh off a 40 over final loss, and the week leading up to the match we liked our chances against them, but knew we had to bring in our ‘A’ game. It was welcome news Sunday morning when we heard that Kaushal and Vivek were not available (Thanks Ali Ibrahim for the laxatives. LOL) and won’t be suiting up for ICC.

ICC won the toss and elected to field, and this was exactly what we wanted. Nawaz got an early breakthrough by bowling Anvesh, but thanks to quick boundaries from Puneet and Kanthi, we were sitting at 77 for the loss of 3 wickets halfway through the innings. Madhu played a crucial anchor role and scored a brisk 30 while rest of team attacked around him, but the players weren’t able to capitalize on their starts and a flurry of wickets meant we were destined for a below par score. Thanks to a quick fire 29 from Gifty, we pushed to a decent total of 144.

The feeling in the camp was that 144 runs were more than enough to defend with our bowling and Kaushal missing in action. Madhu started inauspiciously with few full tosses in the first over, but ICC failed to capitalize. I was able to get couple quick wickets and a maiden over added more pressure on ICC. This was the perfect opportunity for Madhu to do what he does best, get wickets, and he did just that by picking up 4 of the next 5 wickets. Bowling out ICC for 39 was a just the confidence boost we needed knowing UMBC will be our next stop.



The biggest game of our 2015 season, and we were up against arguably the best team in the division, UMBC. We won the toss and elected to bat first, but UMBC bowling led by Anand Patel had us reeling at 24 for the loss of 5 wickets at the end of the powerplay. Madhu played beautifully for his 54 runs under pressure, and added 50+ runs for the 6th wicket with Kalyan. Two huge sixes from Gifty during the tail end of innings meant we reached a below-par but defendable total of 103 in a slow outfield.

UMBC started well, but fall of wickets at regular intervals kept the scoring rate low. This had the #TeamUnity needing 17 runs to win off 12 balls with 3 wickets in hand. Madhu Bylapudi had finished his quota of 4 overs at this point, James George was still at the crease, and anybody’s money would’ve been on UMBC for the win. I had the ball for this decisive over and the plan was to keep the ball outside the off stump to James and have at least 12 runs to defend for the last over. Cricket Gods smiled at me, James nicked one to the keeper the second ball of the over, 4 dot balls, and one wide followed. This had UMBC needing 16 to win off the last over, Kanthi had the ball for the final over, and Kunal was at the crease. Kanthi started off with a wide, Kunal picked up couple 2’s the next two balls, and missed a low full toss on third legal ball of the over. The game was still anybody’s with 11 runs required to win off 3 balls, and Kunal dispatches one for a huge six over long-off. 5 runs were required off the last two balls, Kanthi held his nerve, bowled two low full tosses which Kunal beat, and Falcons booked a berth to Division I T20 finals for a matchup against fellow 2014 D2er, “THA THA THA Sixers.”



If you believe in numbers and patterns, you should know Falcons were a lock to win the Div I T20 finals. “Why?” you may ask. Falcons won Div 2 T20 Championship in the years 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015 should be no different, but you know cricket is meant to be played on the field.

It was a chilly day, temperature was hovering around 50F, and the Sun was playing hide-n-seek. Sixers won the toss; put Falcons in to bat, and the word from inside the dressing room (according to #DesiAunties. LOL) was they forgot that the “Men in Orange” love to defend. Nevertheless, Sixers started well, got Anvesh and Madhu out cheaply, but Puneet and Kanthi took the attack to the opposition, and scored 38 and 45 runs respectively. We looked to be destined for a score of 160+, but Sixers kept attacking and picked up quick wickets in the middle overs. This meant we ended up with a below par score of 142, but some people (*cough cough* Gurnish Singh, *cough cough* Usman Shahid) would say that score is more than plenty to defend for our bowling.

Sixers started well but kept losing wickets in regular intervals which had them needing 30 runs off 3 overs with their last known batting pair of Ali and Bari at the crease. I took the ball hoping to repeat the miracle from a day ago, conceded 7 runs off the first 4 balls, but the wicket of Bari in the penultimate ball of the over was a crucial break. The eventful was not done yet with Ali taking me to the bushes over cover in the last ball. The equation read 17 runs to win off 2 overs with 3 wickets in hand, call it a Déjà Vu. Kanthi bowled beautifully picked up a wicket and conceded 7 runs, setting up a final over for Kalyan to bowl, and with the “Tha Tha Tha” boys needing 10 runs with 2 wickets in hand. Ali picked up a 2 off the first ball, but two dot balls followed. It looked like the pressure got to Ali when he tried to chip the ball over me at short midwicket for a quick run, but I was able grab the ball flying over me and quickly run Ali out. 8 runs needed off 2 balls, new batsman walks in and whacks it for a four, and everybody’s hearts probably stopped for a good 2 seconds when the last ball was bowled, the Sixers were able to scramble for couple runs of the last ball and that’s all she wrote. It was a great game and well worthy of a final and 1 run separated both the teams.

P.S.: In case you were wondering, I had 3 wickets in the final along with a run out.  :)



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