Lot of Young recruits in their 1st game impressed with the ability to adapt to the team environment.
On 4th April, Japan Cricket League Division 2 (JCL DIV 2) season kicked off for MEN IN BLUE (MIB) and CHIBA SHARKS 2nd XI at Sano 1 Cricket Ground. The previous day, the DIV1 XI game was played at SICG1 between these two team 1st XI where MIB chased down the total brilliantly. On a contrary, 2nd XI MIB captain Vasanthakumar Rajendran won the toss and elected to bat first.
The weather condition forecast was to be overcast with light drizzle in between throughout the day. Overall, the Cricket outfield was in good condition except the repair work done around the pitch and especially around the area of bowlers run-up was not all up to the mark.
MATCH HIGHLIGHTS: here
In the 2021 season, significant shuffling of players has happened across JCL DIV 1, JCL DIV 2, JCL div 3, Japan Cup teams. Some new faces were seen and players like Nimish Bhardwaj moved from Falcons to be in MIB JCL DIV 2 squad.
We think these shuffling has somewhat improved the balance and some teams especially went after players to Increase their chance of winning. So we believe 2021 is the season where JAPAN CRICKET is aggressively moving to the next level.
Both Umpires after consultation with Captains decided to play and use both ends of the wicket. In the 3rd over of the game, the River end bowling run-up area caused the first casualty for the Chiba Sharks. Tall opening bowler Varad twisted his ankle in his 2nd over and Sharks were 10 man team for the rest of the game.
Batting first, Ankur Kumar and Saif Raj provided a good stand and negotiated the opening spell successfully. With the Introduction of Arman Hossain, left-arm spinner, things started to change in favor of Sharks. He provided two successive breakthroughs in an over to bring some energy back to the Chiba Sharks team.
At no 4, MIB captain, Vasanthakuar Rajendran denied hattrick chance and took the responsibility of building a partnership with Akash Shastri. This pair put on some display of batting studded with lot of hits to the fence. In this process, Vasanthakumar brought his first 50 and also the first in JCL DIV 2 of the season.
Asala provided the breakthrough with a brilliant return catch of his own bowling. Vasanthakumar scored 64runs (12×4). Akash Shastri 44 (56) missed out on a half-century. These two had set the tone for the middle and lower-order batsmen to express themselves freely. Saravanan Subburaj 28 (18) and Sopan Shirdhonkar 31 (16) accelerated further to post a total that took the game away further.
At the end of 40 overs, MIB posted 273/ 8. For Chiba Sharks, Arman Hossain was the peak of the bowler with 4/31. He was well supported by Asala 3/37.
Chiba Sharks chase 274 runs
Ajeet Bhatt opened the batting with Anil Chandraiah and both looked composed against the medium pace attack of Nimish and Shyam Sundar Sharma. When things looked going good for Sharks, Nimish produced a delivery that went past the defence of Anil Chandraiah 6 (13). Ashley Thurgate at no 3 did not survive for long. At No 4, Dr Santosh Pagire (scientist but an avid fan of cricket) came out to the middle. Santosh started to counterattack with aggressive batting and reached his 50 with an outstanding 6 over long-on laced with. 3x4s and 4x6s.
Trying to repeat the same shot to the other side of the ground, he was caught at long-off. At the other end, Sharks kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Middle and lower order were not able to repeat the heroics and the team was all out on 143 runs. MIB did it in 29.3 overs earning them a bonus point.
A promising game turned out to be a one-sided affair at the end. JCL DIV 2 teams fiercely fight for the bonus point which is very useful in the latter half of the season when games washout due to bad weather conditions. Overall both teams had their first competitive game did not look rusty. It’s a good sign for their upcoming matches.
Watch this exciting game highlights here. Sound in the background is rain drops hitting camera and ground.