Lions depends on a pendulum after a mixed day, End of the road or beginning of a new direction?
Zurich Lions topsy-turvy tournament ends after a mixed day at Uster on 09th August 2020. Having had back to back matches and a simple equation to win both games to get thru and book quarterfinals berth in Pool A took a big shock for lions as they had a mixed day in the field on Sunday. They lost the momentum in the first match against Zurich Crickets 1 where they lost by 34 runs and possibly the hope to qualify for the quarterfinal from the Pool 1 for T-20 league.
On a bright sunny day, weather expected to reach in and above 30 degrees; it is expected to be a hot day both in terms of weather and in terms of contest of cricket. Zurich lions has a simple equation to win both their remaining matches to qualify to quarters. No if no else. Quite an interesting day as still being the home turf Uster ground is still new for the Lions, as none of the matches could have been played here excepts the two today.
First match started at 11 PM scheduled time, the first team is to reach the ground is the Zurich lions as it is their home turf and after setting up the pitch and ground, it is all ready for the toss.
Zurich Lions won the toss and elected to field first as they weren’t sure how the pitch would play out; it is expected to be a little slow due to the mat. Back in the huddle are the home team to start the proceedings.
In the very beginning and in first over Zurich cricket lost their first wicket of James West to a brilliant outswinger by Kanishk safely pouched by Amit behind the wickets, the Zurich cricket’s batsmen were now cautious in their approach as bowl was swinging and keeping a tad low at times. After a safe start to see off the new ball ZCCC batsmen are getting used to the pitch which is a bit slow and making runs in singles, doubles and few odd boundaries. Ruan departed in ninth over having played a good hand to a brilliant catch by Omed at long off. Mayur and Sara were bowling very economically what they do best as spinners and scalped another four wickets keeping ZCCC under check. The scoreboard was reading 13 overs 91/6 and a bit of lack in concentration or would say complacency caught Zurich lions off guard where the opponents launch the counter attack batting. It was 16.3 overs 118/7 and ZCCC collected 49 runs in remaining 21 balls, which was atrocious death bowling, plus some counter hitting and agricultural hoicks from the ZCCC tail took Zurich lions bereft of their first half. Last three overs from Lions read 20, 11, 18, which was highly unexpected and unacceptable given the same thing, costed them a match against Winterthur CC last week. In the end ZCCC ended with 167/9 in their 20 over quota and they were outrageously jubilant given nothing but they have secured a at par score in the low scoring pitch and now sun getting up into the heads it will need quite a chase from Lions to get to this total.
In reply to the chase, the Zurich Lions openers were if not brilliant then very clear and responsible as they ended the powerplay 6 overs 48 runs without a wicket. 14 overs and 120 to win. Let me make it more easier – 84 balls 120 runs i.e. 8.5 runs per over and in T-20 you are ought and supposed to get this done with 10 wickets in hand. To the utter despair, that Lions lost the heat and momentum both in the middle order after Kanishk was run out scarifying his wicket for his partner Ankush who was playing good. Momentum is something that you don’t carry but build along going on, some breaks here and there and pressure was for sure to mount. In a turn that was playing odd and keeping low; ZCCC bowlers stuck to line to line bowling and the ask for lions were to go for hitting which was not easy at all given the heat too. Ankush departed at the end of nine overs scoreboard read 9-56/2 and having imagined lions could manage only 8 runs in the next three overs after power play; nothing but a brake was put. 11 overs 110 to get still quite doable in T-20. In came the hero of lions Mayur who to the dismay of lions and everyone’s shock was bowled to a ball, which kept utterly low and bounced uneven. Senthil joined Sara but the duo were also not finding it easy to hit thru and when Senthil got out it read 11.2-60/4. The matter took worse turn when Lokesh was given caught behind. 13 overs and 65/5. It all started looking grim and tough to score 100 odd runs in remaining 7 overs. In addition, Sara and Amit trying to hit got out as well leaving the board at 17 overs 89/7. What the Zurich Lions higher orders and middle order batsmen could not apprehend perhaps is - The demons are not in the pitch, it is in one’s mind. As the tail of Lions tried to launch something miraculous but was not achievable and salvaged some pride adding 40+ runs in last 4 overs. ‘All if’s and buts and could’ve been’s’ are now packed and wrapped. The game is nothing but over. Lions are short by 34 runs and ZCCC young lads are over joyous beaten a strong team. One wouldn’t say that Lions lost due to collapse of something of their batting order. It is when the time is there batsmen shouldn’t have had hesitated to go after and start the counter attack. It is no trick to pull rabbit out of hat but just application was missing; when struggling keep the scoreboard moving; give the baton to someone who can counter attack. Too much dependency on Mayur was one of the major shortcomings that lions would rue as he whenever needed in this whole tournament always rescued them.
Lions are heartbroken; they have had put a lot of hard work, commitment to keep continuing their weekly practice sessions; having involved the team as a family; worked on their fitness; improved their fielding and batting. Nevertheless, it takes a lot of blood and sweat to bring a club to a level where it is formidable and is not afraid to go after bigger stable teams and give them run for their money. What would be a lesson is to shrug off the defensive mindset; defensive approach in chases and apply basics when needed (if you are not getting big shots; go for singles; keep the scoreboard moving; if you are going for runs; take a pause -talk to the players; keep it simple; encourage each others). It takes a while when all above said are exhibited in ground together.
Ray of hopes runs bleak and in a blink of an eye, the unit of lions looks completely devastated. In T-20 a simple mistakes costs a lot; be a dropped catch, a costly penultimate over or even a defensive mindset approach. You never get a second chance to make the first one correction. A brilliant unit all look so down as they knew that their chances to qualify to next round depends upon and lot of permutations and combinations and giving your fate into someone else’s hand is not an ideal thing. Hanging by a thread to the pendulum – a team would never want.
Plenty to take positives too; Mayur and Ankush batted brilliantly; Lokesh & Amit gave ample support whenever needed. Kanishk, Freddie as opener bowlers; Sara and Mayur as good spin partners and young bloods of Sarfaraz, Omed and Aditya as good fielding unit – on a calm shoulder of captain Senthil; mentored by a practical and cool headed guy Shehsu- Lions can promise only to get better in terms of skills and approach coming seasons. A win or loss doesn’t deter the sportsman spirit as we learn every match we play; every day is a new day in field. The sportsmanship inside us should not die; the passion for cricket shall always be igniting. Even if we lose its ok. Wear your heart in your sleeves, we need to keep improving our game and fitness both physically and mentally and always remember martyrdom is not the end of the soldier its beginning of a legend. We have and we shall shine! The best is yet to be!
**Lions played their second match with Zurich crickets 2 and won comfortably with 74 runs having 2 more points to tally to end their season with 6 points (3 wins and 3 losses)
Highlights: Zurich Lions Lost to ZCCC by 34 runs
ZCCC – 167/9 in 20 overs (Noor khan 36, Ruan 33, Douglas 28, Mayur 3/15, Ankush 3/17, Sara 2/27)
ZLCC – 133/9 in 20 overs (Ankush 31, Sara 21, Sarfaraz 18; Douglas 3/15, Zahir 2/22, N Khan1/26)
As a sportsman, I always love being part of this fantastic sport, which I love most. I hope you would also like reading as much I always enjoy writing the report(s). Keep the spirits high – fall down seven times; stand up eighth. It applies in all departments of life as in sports. Take care of yourself and your near and dear ones.
Have a nice week ahead.