With the end of the season in sight and still well in the hunt, Pleasure assembled at the Camel on Sunday morning ready for the rubber match against Pudong Power. Skipper Bugs expressed his concern that one of the two debutants had failed to show up, and upon noting that the Hot Dogs also rendezvousing at the Camel ahead of their match at Dulwich had only had three members total, proceeded to talk them out of the luxury bus, guaranteeing the Bashers a comfortable ride to the SRFC.
While en route, Bug’s concern over the fate of the missing debutant grew to panic levels. He called his mobile, only to wake a “hot sounding” girl who confessed that she didn’t know where said debutant was; he insisted that Tank send an email with last minute directions to the SRFC; he even broached the idea of Shanghai-ing a local who was walking along side the bus simply because he happened to be wearing all white. Despite this missing man, the team’s arrival at SRFC was uneventful, though looking back, perhaps the team should have taken better stock of the bus and its driver while disembarking.
Bugs discussed the finer details of the match with Pudong skipper and former Basher (sell out) James Gooding and after various accommodations were made for 12th men, and with the toss won, he put Pudong into bat.
With 10 men and a Pudong stand-in, the debutant having still failed to show, Growler took the new ball and began a spell of flight and guile that tied the batsmen down with swing and pace. Bowling six overs on the trot, he was effective against Pudong’s willow wielders, claiming the opening batsman’s scalp three balls into his final over.
Partnering Growler from the Pavilion End and bringing his newfound bounce and velocity with him was Tank. While his six overs were not able to pry a wicket from the stingy Pudong batsmen, Tank’s constant bodyline and beamers bowled in quick succession did soften the resolve of the opening bats. With 12 overs gone, Pudong were at 73 for 1.
The late-coming debutant by this time had made it to the ground, having realized halfway through his Starbucks that the game was not being played at the Dulwich pitch that he was looking at. With a full team ready for the edges and slogs that were sure to come, Omega stepped into the attack, looking to work the batsmen into playing bad shots. The change of pace slowed the Pudong attack with the only runs from his first over coming on wides. With the wind causing the ball to swing down leg, Omega was replaced after two overs at the Far Field End by Swoop, whose bowling was not as affected by the swirling conditions.
Bugs meanwhile, had taken up the attack from Tank at the Pavilion End, and soon sent the second opener packing with a misplaced shot, ably taken by Growler at Mid On. Wickets continued to fall as Omega made up for some shoddy slips work with a screamer of a one-handed catch at Forward Point.
Having already been dropped once by Pitstop in the deep, Pudong’s big batting Aussie (of South African descent apparently) was a bit reticent to hit in to the air and was only beginning to get going when A Trois took a masterly delivered ball from Swoop and knocked the bails off for the fourth wicket of the innings.
With the pavilion to his back and the wind now in his favor, Omega took up the attack again and the wickets began to tumble. Two bowled, one caught and bowled, and one stumping later “with some 6s and 4s sprinkled in between” Pudong reached then end of their innings 213 for 9.
Having reached higher totals on two previous occasions this year alone, and with Pothole walking confidently to the crease with last match’s 74 firmly in his mind, Pleasure was ready to assault the Pudong score. Ten balls and four runs later, he was back at the tents, a thick edge caught at Backward Point.
Any concern was quickly forgotten when Growler squared up at the crease. The feeling of concern returned with a vengeance after only five balls when Growler was also sent back to the tents, having been caught in the covers. Omega replaced him at the crease, and after being inexplicably dropped by the wicket keeper on 8, was clean bowled by James Gooding the next ball.
The weight of the Bashers attack now fell to Pitstop, who fought through some able Pudong bowling and anchored a batting side sent adrift by the fall of the top and middle order. Debutant Tantric, whose last outing in England was a duck, hit a boundary for his first runs, then watched a cover drive taken for yet another catch by the Pudong fielders. Fellow debutant El Gringo, fresh from the Mexican cricket league, was able to add runs, but could not bring down the required run rate as the score ticked up all to slowly in the face of Pudong’s concerted bowling attack.
Pitstop’s valiant innings came to an end in the 26th over when he hit into a catch. He finished with a hard fought 55 from 81 deliveries including five 4s. El Gringo was out to a catch having added 33 to the score, Swoop ran himself out trying to stretch a 2 after a blazing 15 off 9 balls, and A Trois smashed two of the first three balls he faced over the square leg boundary as the team tried to close the gap in the finals overs. When Korean waked to the crease with one ball to come in the innings however, Pleasure was only on 167, needing 47 to win. One leg glance later, and the Bashers arrived at their final score: 168 for 7 after 30 overs.
With the game lost and an afternoon to look forward to, Pleasure headed to the parking lot with thoughts of cold beers and Bashers initiations in mind. The luxurious bus that had been so appreciated on the way out was no where to be found. Parked at the end of the driveway and sans driver, the team was left waiting in the SRFC lobby as calls were placed to the Camel and The Toe. After 45 minutes of fruitless searching, the bus arrived without explanation and the decision was made to conduct the fines session on the way to the Camel. With Omega (driving) and Korean (umpiring) missing, and two debutants initiated (the aforementioned slow to come Tantric and El Gringo), the fines session proceeded through the entirety of the return trip, providing ample distraction from the dreariness of Shanghai gridlock.
Extras and dropped catches and solid Pudong bowling put Pleasure on the back foot in the chase for a large total. It was unfortunately one chase that Pleasure was not able to complete despite an all-star performance from Pitstop. The loss drops Pleasure one rank in the standings but the team is still in the hunt for the final semi-final spot.
2011 Division Two
|Thursday 8 September 2011||P||W||D||L||F||A||P|
|DPR Hot Dogs||13||5||0||8||2057||2310||61.17|