The Titan's Clash, the nickname I have given for RnW Bangalore versus RnW Chennai clash, has always been explosive. Last time, I saw the match go down to the wire, end with a tie, then proceeded to go Super over, twice!... I am 100% sure no one in their lifespan would have seen or played through in such a situation.
Over the last two years, RnW Bangalore has been dominating in their domestic games. We knew that they are a strong team. They have won this cup a couple of times, but so have we have. However, every encounter has been intense. Every run, every wicket, every shout for a wicket, its been bloody tense. We have always respected the team and always felt pride, whenever we beat them.
This year Challenger Trophy even more explosive than last year. This match was also JP's 100th match for RnW, and it goes to show what JP meant to the team and to this series.
RnW Chennai went to bat first and right from the word 'go', the match was tense. JP and Arvind opened the innings. RnW Bangalore team was also charged up. They bowled very well and employed their spinners early on.
This resulted in two early wickets of JP and Bupi. JP got dismissed with 1 run to score, got top edged while trying to play the ball towards Fine Leg. Bupi also got dismissed while trying to sweep the ball. RnW Bangalore spinners were dominating the match.
Then there was Arvind who seemed to get going, but then he got out. RnW Chennai never felt steady/safe to bat. They were edgy, nervous to play the spin. Surprisingly, Marina wicket where the ball usually tends to keep low, provided a lot of bounce.
It is also a very good wicket to bat on. However, the bounce certainly troubled the batsman. By the time RnW Chennai came in terms with the bounce and spin of the wicket, they were too deep in trouble.
Murali, Raki, and Siva played some good shots. Especially Siva and Raki gave the much needed momentum for the team. Their efforts saw some good hitting with ball crossing the boundary with ease. Siva especially was good. But he got holed out in deep square leg while trying to clear the boundary.
Raki and Sankar saw the team pass 100 in 26th over. There was a sense that with 3-4 overs remaining, RnW Chennai will reach around 120-130+. But the pace bowlers of RnW Bangalore came good and wrapped up RnW Chennai innings with Sankar's wicket.
When the innings got over, there was still 2.5 overs left and RnW Chennai ended with 110.
The Nail-bitting Chase
RnW Chennai also decided to go for the same kind of ploy or it was pre-determined I didn't know. But I saw RnW Chennai open with pacers and spinners coming in early. The effort from RnW Bangalore while fielding was exceptional. They took all the catches, fielded well, and put intense pressure on RnW Chennai batting.
That is exactly what was needed from RnW Chennai if they had any hope of defending 110 runs on a good batting track.
That is what they did, to some extent. They took regular wickets and kept the pressure on the batsman. However, RnW Bangalore persevered through with some sensible batting. They kept the singles up, and put the odd ball to the boundary.
One thing that haunted RnW Chennai (and still does) came into forefront - catches. We dropped quite a few catches including a sitter. These catches have to be taken - especially when you are defending a very low total.
Defending 110 was not easy, and RnW Chennai did put a very good fight. The fielders really put in their effort to stop all singles and fours. Siva made a spectacular save to stop a boundary and Vimal's close fielding was really good. When there batsman tried to steal a single, Murali who was fielding at long on, read the situation well and threw it keeper resulting in a run out in a time, when a wicket was much needed.
Wickets kept tumbling at right intervals but then came a moment when it was do or die for Bangalore team. 13 needed of 24 with 2 wickets in hand. While the equation looks easy off-field, it was really tense on-field. The last two batsman from Bangalore team played really well and effected a boundary which put more pressure on the fielding which resulted in a miss-field at a crucial time.
With fielders closing in, RnW Bangalore were patient and saw through at the 1st ball of 28th over - a very interesting fact being RnW Chennai got all out at 28.1 over.
All in all, it was a very eventful and a bit sad ending for me, but the best ending in terms of cricket.
This time I wanted to contribute to the team somehow. I was not part of playing 11 but still wanted to do something for the team. I saw many of non-playing members were out of station or not available to see the match.
So I decided to do live blogging and WhatsApping (a term/method I am claiming. Anyone mimics or copies this has to pay royalty to me ;-)). This would allow my fellow team members to keep in touch of what's happening. I had no idea how to do it.
So after reaching the ground, I decided to update the scores every 5 overs in our blog, and keep my team members WhatsApp group, with over-by-over update.
It was an exciting experience for me. It has also given me some ideas of how to do it better next time. The guys in our group thoroughly enjoyed my updates (although I could have added some commentary - but couldn't because updates were happening very fast and my typing skill is just just not that great. If had a help, things would been different.)
You can have a look at the scores in my previous post of what I did.
Overall, it was a good victory to RnW in general, because we have been doing this for over four years now. Next time, we will be travelling to Bangalore to play for the Challenger Trophy (Bangalore edition) in the near future. We (RnW Chennai) hope to bring the Cup back.
I hope to get more fit and be part of playing 11 next time. If not, then I am sure I can find better ways to improve on what I have started ;-)
Check out the photos of the award ceremony: