Ivanhoe at Octopus Cricket Club

After an aborted attempt to begin the season, Octopus provided an opponent as the early season sun brought spring to life.

The fifth of May 2024 will go down in the annuals of Ivanhoe, as revenge was had against a worthy foe, as well as against nature, fate and the frailties of the human body. Last year’s game caused great damage to body and spirit, with a lengthy injury toll that afflicted the team throughout the season.

The rosy fingered dawn heralded a warm day, unbenighted by rain, although our man in Lisbon suggested rain was on the way just in time to ruin the week, but all that was before us as Ivanhoe journeyed to the shadow of Alexandra Palace with a spring in our collective steps.

Opening up and fearlessly taking the first ball of the season was Phil K – a great net session behind him augured well. Against a quick bowler swinging the ball away and moving it off the seam provided quite a few tricky moments but Phil bestrode them colossus like. At the other end the pace was down but the tricks played by the slightly damp wicket provided a different challenge. Phil was undone by one, after several powerful strokes, that stuck in the wicket and he was caught.

In strode Mo, with memories of last season’s epic knock, and many a frightened bowler in the nets; a four and six later, the pitch once again bedevilled a batter and off the back of the bat he was caught too…

A calamitous mix-up between Steven and Hansi saw the latter huffing and puffing and run out by 15 yards…then a tricky skidding delivery undid Steven.

At this point (in the view of the batters dismissed) the pitch flattened out as Tai and Sai settled in, feasted upon some wayward bowling and peppered the boundary. Octopus didn’t quite get their lengths and line right; the batters’ wagon wheels indicated leg side scoring dominated. Fours, sixes, singles off many an over’s last ball, more boundaries…the partnership grew and grew, the fielders’ heads dropped…and still the batters kept smiting the ball to and over the rope. Even the return of the opening bowler, who admittedly caused both problems, could not break the flow. Both passed 50, the ball started flying to all areas of the ground, with the straight and off-side boundarya peppered before Tai was caught.

A frenetic flurry of runs and wickets fell over the final overs, including the odd instance of Sai being stumped off a wide on what would have been the final ball of the innings for 75.  No doubt the number of wickets lost was flattered in this period, but the extra runs scored felt absolutely necessary as memories of power batting on Octopus’ part loomed large. 217-9 in 35 overs represented a great feat…all batters played their part in building this formidable total.

A tight opening spell from Parsad and an early wicket from Saqib dented the reply. Run scoring was at a premium, overs went by between boundaries. Pressure built. Aside from an edge through Hansi at gully of Sai, chances were limited but scoreboard pressure kept building. 8-18 off 7 consecutive overs from Prasad exemplified this performance (and here’s to these kind of excellent displays throughout the season, we missed them last year!). Whilst batting might not have been as perilous as the opening of Ivanhoe’s innings, Phil K’s performance behind the sticks frequently drew cheers of appreciation. On another day, byes would have accounted for Octopus’ top score, but not today. Flinging himself about with abandon and great skill, very few got past him as skidding deliveries were interspaced with ones that reared and moved late.

When the second wicket finally fell, to a good catch by Sai, the game’s complexion changed. Suddenly the new batter was able to score more freely, the field was breached and runs began to flow…the power hitting of Octopus couldn’t match that already seen by the Ivanhoe batters, and they’d left it a little too late…occasionally taking on one that wasn’t there as well as good bowling saw a couple more wickets fall to the bowling of Sai and Krishna, before Saqib came back to take one more…only five wickets fell in all, but the doldrums at the beginning of Octopus’ innings came back to haunt them and without the batting of Heracles they were never really in it, despite causing consternation here and there.

Had this been a timed game, honours would have rested with Octopus, but the scales fell Ivanhoe’s way for a fantastic first win of the year, with the well deserved player of the match Sai chiefly responsible for this.

Author: Hansi B

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