The Phoenix 4th XI campaign continued in the Park against a much fancied Carlow 1st XI last Sunday.
The Phoenix team was Stephen Black, Raj, Evan Chester, Arsalan Mehmood, Ijaz Ahmed, new member Syed Raza, Theo Dempsey, Aidan Chester (c), Monjur Ahmed, Harry Fay and Zafarullah Mohommed.
(Editors note:- Willie Clarke pulled out of the team late the night before due to the death of his mother. For this Willie, we were truly sorry and we look forward to welcoming you back to your team in due course)
On a grey day in Phoenix The Admiral called correctly to take his “tossers” streak to 3 from 3 and he had no hesitation in fielding first again.
Zafar decided to open the bowling with the wind bowling from the Magazine Fort end with Theo opening at the other end.
Carlow are a very aggressive side and from the off they set about hitting boundaries of as many balls as possible. This really tested youngster Theo as anything he bowled good or bad went over the boundary rope. In fairness theres not much you can do in the face of swinging bats and Theo never let his head go down.
The first wicket fell on 56 with Zafar clean bowling Butt for 35. Monjur was on now and he was immediately posing dangers to the Carlow batsmen. On 74 he trapped Trisha for 29 and then he bowled Chisti to leave Carlow 79-3.
The batting lineup for Carlow was relentless however with Aseem swinging at everything- The Admiral was a bowler short but he switched things around to try and keep the runs down. The run rate at drinks was over 6 an over and Carlow were eyeing a score of close to 300 particularly as we were playing with a small boundary in front of the clubhouse.
After drinks, Phoenix fought back. Perhaps not with wickets but Ijaz was in full swing at this stage and bowled a couple of tight overs and suddenly Phoenix were stringing dot balls together despite Carlow still swinging at anything that moved!
On 153, Monjur claimed another wicket bowling Mahmood to finish his spell with 9 overs 3-47.
Theo was back on now and both he and Evan decided enough was enough- he was going to go for a few runs but he wasn’t going to make it easy!
Both of the youngsters planned and schemed for every ball to try and frustrate the Carlow batsmen and it worked. Slower balls, yorkers, slow half trackers, quicker balls it didn’t matter as Theo went through his reportoire and Carlow got frustrated quickly!
Azeem holed out to give Theo his wicket and Carlow were starting to go backwards at 195-5. Sunny was also bowling well and when The Admiral swapped his ends he got into the wickets bowling Ali and Raza cheaply. All of a sudden Carlow were running out of overs at 245-8 and when Zaf bowled top scorer Akeem 300 was not going to be reached. The end came quickly and with a bit of a whimper and Carlow were all out for 252 in the 43rd over.
The bowling figures were Zaf 3-40 ,Ijaz 0-31 off 9, Sunny 3-63 and Monjur 3-47 off 2. Special mention for Theo who took 1-66 off 8 overs. While the figures don’t look good The Admiral felt he stuck to his guns in the face of an onslaught. His second half performance was very good and helped the second half of the innings only go at just over 4 runs per over thus keeping Carlow to 252- to the “experts” that had gathered most felt that the score was 30 runs short at the very least.
The Admirals summary at half time was “a great effort backing up the bowlers faced with ultra aggressive batting and a small boundary – let’s get the runs”.
The motivation speech wasn’t required as a little unfairly Carlow were cheering in the dressing room thinking the job was done which only helped the Phoenix lineup put the task in perspective!
Stephen and Ijaz got the Phoenix reply under way. Ijaz played around a straight ball when the Phoenix score was 14.
Raj had dropped down the order so that he could “feel” the positivity and it worked. It only takes one shot for the good feelings to come back and he looked the class act we know he is and both he and Stephen got stuck into the task at hand. Stephen looked good as both he and Raj got Phoenix over 50. He was unlucky to smoke one straight to square leg. 53-2.
Sunny joined Raj who moved the Phoenix score along steadily. Carlow were getting uneasy and starting to argue within as slowly the Phoenix score grew. Every over seemed to have a couple of bad balls or more importantly a couple of extras.
Sunny was simply stunning all day- he’s always had the shots but rarely gets them together in the same innings!
When Raj was out for 31 with the score on 137 this brought new member Syed Raza to the crease.
Syed supported Sunny as he passed 50 and the scoring rate started to increase with both batsmen pouncing on bad balls.
Sunny got to his first senior 100 for Phoenix with a couple of boundaries through the covers as Phoenix passed 200.
Syed was out for 21 but Harry Fay came out and ensured there was no hiccups with a breezy 11 to ease Phoenix past 252 in just the 36th over.
Sunny finished on 129 with 18 fours and 1 six.
For Phoenix obviously the plaudits go to Sunny for batting so well but the Phoenix batting lineup were good in the face off a pent up Carlow attack. Carlow bowled 48 extras in the Phoenix innings which didn’t help their cause and you could tell they weren’t happy losing with what they thought was an imposing score.
Thanks also to our own “Mr Cricket” Conor Dillon for scoring – very much appreciated.
Phoenix win by 6 wickets – next up away to Wicklow on Sunday, 28th May.