The win could not have been more timely for San Jose Cricket Club on a pleasant day in Fresno. The pitch was good and the outfield was better. The match was reduced to 40 overs a side as it began late. Abrar called the toss right and was soon walking with Ali to open the SJCC innings. The way the openers began was promising as both of them were getting their timing right That was when Abrar who was looking comfortable played a hesitant shot which ended as a catch in the hands of the fielder at mid-ff. Nadeem went in to join Ali and proved to be the perfect foil to Ali who was looking set for a big score. That was when tragedy struck when Ali who was looking for a sharp single slipped while trying to reach the crease and was found short by a yard. That brought Niranjan and Nadeem together. Here was a pair of batsmen who could have accumulated a lot of runs if the communication between them was good. Niranjan was negotiating the bowling well with his cuts and flicks when he set out for a suicidal single without proper communication with the striker and was run out for the third time this season. Nisar joined Nadeem and both played sensibly with Nadeem playing some sweetly timed cover drives and square cuts which were a treat to watch. The partnership that Nisar and Nadeem shared brought balance to the SJCC innings. Nadeem was caught by Reddy off the bowling of Ravi after he had made 21. The best phase of the SJCC innings was when Harmeet was with Nisar in the middle. Both Abrar (who was the bye runner for Nisar) and Harmeet ran very well between the wickets. Nisar, as usual, was playing delightful strokes all around the wicket. Both Harmeet and Nisar had the fielders on their toes. Harmeet played some really positive strokes which lifted the spirits of the team members in the pavilion. Unfortunately he was the third run-out victim when he tried to go for the runs when the run-rate needed a boost. Rajesh was the next one in. Both he and Nisar got out under similar circumstances, being bowled while trying to accelerate the innings. Sultan and Naeem spent some valuable time at the crease but the number of overs remaining was going down. Both Naeem and Sultan perished after playing some magnificent shots. The innings finally came to a grinding halt with Shafqat being bowled off the last ball of the last over and Noni remaining unbeaten on 1.
After a delicious lunch SJCC started its bowling with a bang. Ali and Rajesh were bowling with the precision of rocket launchers. Ali trapped the Central Valley opener plumb in front of the wicket and Rajesh brought one in to Abhay, CV's #3 batsman which had him clueless as to what to do. That resulted in a well judged catch by Abrar. Prasad CV's other opener who was trying to come to terms with the bowling was held by Ali off his own bowling. Nadeem accounted for the next batsman with Shafqat taking a brilliant catch which had the team all pumped up. Nisar duplicated Shafqat's feat when he caught Navpreet's cut again off Nadeem. Here was when SJCC hit an unproductive and frustrating patch. The bowlers were not able to get the breakthroughs inspite of having both the batsmen in all sorts of trouble. Abrar made an intelligent bowling change and brought Ali back into the attack and Ali delivered. Ali shattered the castle of Ravi and SJCC restarted its mauling of the Central Valley batting lineup. Harmeet who was unlucky on a couple of occasions finally was rewarded with a wicket when he sent Srikanth back through a good catch by Nisar. Niranjan who was introduced as a stop gap bowler accounted for Bhupen. Suki CV's #10 batsman found himself walking back to the pavilion after Abrar held a catch off the inside edge of his bat off the bowling of Nadeem. Rajesh came back into the attack and completed the formalities by making a mess of the woodwork of the spirited Reddy with a beauty of an inswinger.
The batting of SJCC did not live up to its true potential as a score of 200+ could have been posted had the run-outs been averted. The bowling was excellent with the bowlers never allowing the opposing batsmen into the game. But what stood out in this encounter was the fielding. The fielders especially Sultan, Naeem, Noni and Shafqat made some spectacular saves. As usual Abrar had a good time behind the stumps.
Batting - 50%. Bowling - 80%. Fielding - 90%