Southern Ontario Cricket Association championship match - nerve racking game (Raghu Peddada, Waterloo Sunrise CC)

For the major part of the last decade, Waterloo Sunrise CC and Kaituer CC have dominated the Southern Ontario Cricket Association  (SOCA). Both clubs are from Waterloo and are classic rivals. Not surprisingly, both teams made it once more to the 2004 SOCA finals.

The Championship trophy

Kaituer is a club with mostly Guyanese players, who pride themselves on their mental approach to cricket. They are loaded with all round talent, well lead by Arjune Nandu in the batting department. Their game plan is not to make mistakes in any department of the game, but never miss the opportunity to take advantage of the opponent's mistakes. Waterloo Sunrise revolves around three key league all rounders, Rana, Dharmesh and Parveen Sharma. The other team members provide disciplined play and have gradually evolved as solid players in their own right. This side exudes unparalleled fighting spirit in all departments of the game. Their players mainly hail from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and one from Guyana.

It was a sunny September Sunday, picture perfect for a classic match. Barbecue units were smoking right from start; water coolers filled with ice and drinks were getting steady traffic from the crowd. The park workers installed additional benches and trash cans for the event. Other than cricket fans, young and old, local folks who had no idea about cricket also sensed something exciting was unfolding in the middle and settled down. The crowd was in the range of two hundred.

The SOCA president Les Burnett drove all the way from Michigan to umpire the match. Both teams knew it would be a tough day, and winning the toss would be crucial. The toss was won by Waterloo Sunrise who chose to bat. The idea was good; they had the batting talent and all of them were in good nick. The match started on an even keel, both teams were looking sharp.

Harpal (Captain) and Kuldeep were middling the ball and showed caution to some very intelligent and disciplined bowling from Sammy and Rishi. The field placement was exemplary. Kuldeep was out first, spooning an easy catch to midoff, when the score was 38 in the 14th over. Ravi joined Harpal, but the partnership was choked as they allowed 5 consecutive maiden overs. Kaiteur CC bowled good line and length, but the batsman were over cautious. After 18 overs, the score was still 38. Soon after, Ravi was caught at mid-on. Ahmed was the next batsman and showed his intentions right away with two boundaries. Harpal and Ahmed staged a recovery and took the score to 68, when Harpal was clean bowled on a lazy shot. Harpal made 25. J. Rana joined Ahmed who went into a shell, and the runs dried up. Rana was next to go, caught at deep mid-wicket trying to accelerate the run rate. Franklin the next batsman tried to egg Ahmed to boost the runrate. Unfortunately Ahmed played across the line and was given out lbw, having made a patient 33. Dharmesh joined Franklin in the 33rd over with score at 87 for 5. Waterloo Sunrise were in dire straits and needed a good, and quick, partnership. Franklin opened up and Dharmesh supported him well. The pair put on 45 runs for the sixth wicket in 7 overs when Dharmesh was dismissed for 16 in the 41st over. Franklin made a quick and crucial 27, and tai lender Sarabjit chipped in with a vital 14 runs. Waterloo Sunrise ended up making 162 runs, which looked hard-to-get during the middle of their innings. No doubt it was a poor batting performance, being their lowest score in the finals. They should have made at least 30 more.

With their backs to the wall against a team who can outscore any total, Waterloo Sunrise had to do everything right in order to pull off a victory.

Chinnu Perumal and Rishi Persaud opened for Kaituer CC. Waterloo Sunrise bowlers Dharmesh and Rana took the ball and didn't give anything away to the batsman, which kept the run-rate in check. Chinnu Perumal who provides the aggression was troubled by tricky Rana who forced him to simple caught-and-bowled. Just 20 runs were scored in the first 10 overs. Next, Saqib and Sarabjit came into the attack and struck immediately removing dangerous batsman Rishi Persaud well caught by Franklin at slip. Kaiteur staged a recovery with Zulfikar playing well and Ali showing grit. The Waterloo Sunrise 3rd line bowlers, Parveen and Bahadur, were brought into the attack and they continued the stranglehold on the run rate. This along with very sharp fielding mounted the pressure on the batsman. Parveen got the next wicket removing Ali well caught by Rana at deep mid-wicket. Kaiteur star batsman Arjune Nandu walked in and hit a six off Parveen which relieved the pressure on the batsmen. Nandu continued to aggressively go after Bahadur, but he was out caught by Sarabit at long off. Meanwhile, Zulfikar was looking dangerous.

Along with Dheeraj they staged a good partnership which threatened to take away the match from Waterloo Sunrise. With 7 overs to go, Kaiteur needed 42 runs and 6 wickets in hand. Dharmesh came back to break the partnership, which resulted in Dheeraj brilliantly caught by Sarabjit at deep long-on. Hanif joined potent Zulfikar and started to create pressure on Browne. The usually safe fielders Parveen and Kuldeep dropped catches off Hanif and pressure started to get to the fielders. Hanif tried his luck once more and was taken well by Dharmesh at long off. Two balls later, Narain went for a big hit off Bahadur but was brilliantly taken at long off by Dharmesh.

Two big wickets fell in that over, the match started to turn away from Kaiteur creating a new 50-50 chance for both teams. With 4 overs to go and 26 runs for a Kaiteur win while Waterloo Sunrise needed 3 more wickets for the win.

This is when fortunes started swinging from one side to the other. Every one at the park was on a roller coaster ride from ball to ball. Rana started the 41st over and Zulfikar hit it for a huge 6 to swing the match back in Kaituer favour. He was the only batsman who was on top of his game and the bowlers, with 3 overs to go and 20 runs required. Dharmesh came back for the last two overs. He bowled a brilliant over, 5 dot balls in a row and sixth ball, a catch was dropped at midwicket and they converted it into 2 runs. With 2 overs to go and 18 runs to win, the match turned back to favour Waterloo Sunrise. Rana started the 44th over and Zulfikar hit another six off the first ball which turned the match back into Kaiteur's favour. They needed 12 runs of 11 balls with 3 wickets in hand. In the next ball, going for a second run, a good throw by Franklin caught Chris Argunen short. They need 11 runs off 10 balls with 2 wickets in hand. Rana bowled a dot ball but next ball, Zulifkar scored two more runs.

They needed 9 runs of 8 balls. Zulifkar scored 2 runs again and they need 7 runs of 7 balls. The match seemed to be getting away from Waterloo's Browne. Just then Zulifkar trying to keep the strike for the last over was run out by a good throw from Franklin to Rana, who whipped the bails off and Browne got the crucial wicket of Zulfikar. Fortune had swung back to favour Waterloo Sunrise. Nerves were getting shattered in both camps, and those of the fans. Luck was changing for both clubs after almost every ball. Now, the last batsman walking in and last over to be bowled by Dharmesh and 7 runs needed. One lucky shot and match will be all over.

The last batsman requested a runner and it was granted. In the very first ball, the batsman played to third man to Parveen and the throw came back to Harpal and the batsman took the single. The runner ran, but the injured batsman also ran to the other end. As per cricket rules the injured batsman should stay at the wicket. With good presence of mind from Neeraj and quick reaction of Harpal, the bails were removed from both ends. Umpire Juman Abdul understood the confusion raised his finger to give the batsman out. Waterloo Sunrise won the game by 6 runs. Drums were beating in the Waterloo Sunrise camp but Kaituer CC captain and supporters questioned the decision. The drums were ordered to stop; the crowd rushed back to the ground. Luckily the SOCA president had the rule book with him and after a few uneasy minutes of reading the rules with the co-umpire they re-iterated their decision.

What a match! Waterloo Sunrise CC bowled and fielded with great heart and fought till the end and never gave up. It was a great victory and turned out to be an exciting and nail biting win. The pressure was enormous. Waterloo Sunrise have won back to back championships in 2003 and 2004. Kaituer Waterloo cricket fans will talk about this match for years to come, as this one is certainly going to be relived in memory lane for a long time.

The winning team