5th XI – Match Report – Catch Up

After a delay in transmission it’s time to bring you up to date on the exploits of the 5th XI over their last three games prior to Sunday’s Junior Cup fixture

(a) -v- Dundalk – Junior Cup Preliminary Round – May 26

Having started the season with a couple of big run chases it was no surprise to see the 5th XI field first as they made their way back to Dundalk for this cup encounter. When the sides had met three weeks previously Phoenix had managed to set a total of only 77 and did well to skittle Dundalk for 66 and claim a close victory.

This time around Phoenix made the hosts set the target and they were off to a good start when Hughes had Chong (2) neatly caught by McClean and Mid On. At the other end Ali Raza made an impressive Phoenix debut with the new ball as his pace was hard to handle and he stifled the flow of runs.

However this was a much different Dudalk side to the one that had struggled with the bat in the league encounter. They started to settle in after recovering from the early setback and Phoenix were a little bit below par in the field as well.

It was skipper Graham Mooney who made the next inroads after bringing himself into the attack. He had Boome (23) caught behind as he flashed a drive at one and Mumtaz held on behind. Mooney made it a quick double as Jodhani (14) caught at Midwicket by Tom Walker.

Dundalk refused to yield, though, and they had moved on to 66, their final total in the first game, when the 4th wicket fell as Dan Hazelden clean bowled Uragoda (19). The chance was there for Dundalk to push on and post and imposing total.

The game turned with the introduction of Aidan Chester into the attack. On a pitch receptive to his tweakers Chester came in and ripped through the middle order. His figures of 4.4-1-8-4 show the impact he had as he swung the game back towards Phoenix favour.

He first had Shahid (9) caught by McClean before McHugh (6) was caught by Mumtaz after dotting one up in the air. Mumtaz did well to hold on as he collided with Mooney as they both converged to take the catch. Next to go was Kalkieran who was caught spectacularly by Raza who stooped to scoop up a sharp catch at Short Leg.

While Chester was doing the damage at one end McClean showed a cool head to execute a run out at the other before bowling Finnegan and Dundalk had collapsed to 89 for 9. They did show a wag of the tail, though, and they battled on to 103 before Chester picked up his fourth as Hughes clung on to dismiss McDonald (5) and end the innings.

Phoenix were slow and steady in their reply and they had moved on to 17 before Moore (4) managed to pick out the only deep fielder on the leg side and was sent back to the shed. Ebbs (0) was then dismissed in short order and Dundalk could sense they were very much in the hunt. It took a cool head and some clean hitting by the skipper and Tom Walker to move Phoenix along and out of danger.

Walker (15) was looking well set and likely to move along to a bigger total when he was done by a double bouncer with sneaked underneath his bat as he looked to drive. His departure brought Naeem Shahzad to the crease and as usual the burly middle order batsman let fly right from the off. He cleared the pickets twice early on but couldn’t hang around long enough to do any real damage. Shahzad (12) was dismissed as he was caught behind for the second time in two trips to Dundalk and Phoenix fell to 62 for 5.

When skipper Mooney (22) fell to a great low catch, while on the sweep, to a great low catch by Shahid and Phoenix were 35 short of the total it looked as though there was danger. However Chester and Mumtaz took their time, picked the right deliveries to score off and slowly ground down the total.

Chester was in fine fettle again as he bided his time and crunched three boundaries and a brace of 6’s. Mumtaz was much more watchful at the far end but they pair got the job done in the end. Chester (33*) bagged the MotM honours with a fine all round display while Mumtaz (7*) produced another solid and reliable innings for his new club.

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(h) -v- Railway Union – Russell Court Trophy Round One – May 29

It was back to the shortest format of the game for the 5th XI and a very rare home appearance to boot. They have very much been the road warriors of the club with seven of their opening nine games of the season slated as away fixtures. The omens for this one weren’t good as skipper Mooney won the toss. He made the correct decision in electing to bat with sunny skies overhead and a hard deck under foot but, somewhat incongruously, this was to turn into a low scoring shootout.

Phoenix made a very slow start ot the game with Mooney (0) being bowled with the third ball and then McDonough (0) picking up a Golden Duck getting gunned given LBW to a ball that rapped him in the pads one delivery later. Phoenix avoided succumbing to a first over hat trick for Noone but were placed firmly on the back foot by some excellent Railway bowling. Noone, Mehmood and Khaliq were all excellent in the first 10 overs and restricted the hosts.

Having fallen to 1 for 2 Phoenix found it hard to work their way into the game. Naeem Shahzad let loose with some big shots but also did his best not to get carried away. While at the other end Alan Maginnis could not find his usual fluency in the early going.

With the run rate being held down by the visitors bowling things became a little muddled out in the middle. Shahzad (19) was the next man to go as he was run out. It is hard apportion blame in a run out in most cases. However that is not one of those as The Electrician short circuted Naeem’s innings.

Maginnis (12) was back in the shed soon after himself as he was caught off the bowling of Jackson. When Dismore (4) fell soon after Phoenix were reduced to 47 for 5 and in all sorts of trouble.

Chester and Moore did their best to restore some order to the innings as the looked to hit the gaps and take what was on offer. It is fair to say that both are probably more well known for their patience than their range hitting (although Chester can, and did, clear the pickets) and this, coupled with good bowling, held the Phoenix in check.

The pair plugged away and made sure there was no capitualtion and that the home side would bat their allotment of overs. Chester (21) finally succumbed with two balls of the innings remaining after helping his side get back into the game.

Phoenix finished on 97 for 6, a strange looking score for a T20 match, with Moore unbeaten on 27 from 29 balls and Mumtaz 1*. It looked as though it would not be anywhere near enough but the 5th XI had shown they are a determined side in their preceeding games so the day was far from done.

Phoenix did their best to get stuck into Railway from the off but the openers were nice and composed in the early going. Defending such a low total it looked as though it might be an easy evenings work for Railway as the moved along to 18 for 0 after 4 overs but the game as about to come to life.

Ali Raza was the man to strike for Pheonix as he cleaned up Muhammed (6) to bag that all important breakthrough. When the other opener Kenny (18) went shortly afterwards bowled by Shahzad the door opened slightly for the home side. The run rate dropped after the quick brace and Railway found life a lot harder than they had previously.

Raza cleaned up Morgan (2) to make it 30 for 3 and it was game on yet again. However Khaliq and the wily old veteran Chisholm combined to bring some stability to the innings and nullify the Phoenix attack in the five overs.

Railway had moved along to 60 before the 4th wicket fell when Chisholm nicked one down leg and walked as he was well taken by Phoenix keeper Mick McDonough. 60 for 4 became 62 for 5 when Naeem Shahzad made it three wickets as he had Noone (2) bowled.

The game was firmly in the balance at this stage despite the fact that Railway only needed 35 runs from the final 7 overs.

It was really game on when Dev Dismore brilliantly ran out the dangerman Khaliq (24) after a mix up. The gulity Railway batsman, Neville Clarke, did his best to atone and settled the visitors nerves with a couple of boundaries. Clarke (10) was next to go though, as he was caught and bowled by Mooney to set up a potentially tense finish.

It was not to be for Phoenix, though, as Jackson came in to finish off the game for Railway with a couple of lusty blows. He finished 10 not out and added to his bowling figures of 5-0-14-1 he was very much the standout player of the evening.

Phoenix lost by 3 wickets with 8 balls remaining leaving them to ponder what a difference 20 more runs from the top of the order might have made.

Railway progressed, though, and we wish them the very best in the rest of the competition.

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(a) -v- Halverstown – Division 12 – June 1

The 5th XI seem to spend more time on the road than Jack Kerouac and once more they donned their travelling shoes and made the journey down to Halverstown as they resumed league duties after a couple of cup games.

Despite being back on a mat it was a welcome relief to travel to a venue will a well procured outfield and the weather conditions were decent to boot. Ill omens again at the toss, though, as Mooney won and elected to bat.

Things did not start well for Phoenix as, after crashing a boundary down to third man, skipper Mooney (4) was bowled with the third ball of the game. It was not the start the 5th XI needed as the looked to bounce back from their first loss of the season.

Ebbs came in at number 3 and looked good in the early going as he pulled through Midwicket for a boundary and pinched a nice quick single with a drop and run. Ebbs (7) was out soon after, though, as he flayed at a ball outside off and balloned a catch to slip to leave Phoenix 15 for 2 in the 4th over.

It was a time to rebuild and Moore and Walker, batting together for the first time this season, made a pretty good go of getting things back on track. They called and ran well and hit the gaps as the innings found its way back on track. Frustratingly, though, Walker (9) fell to a loose shot, somewhat similar to the dismissal of Ebbs, to break the partnership just as it was starting to move up a gear.

At 45 for 3 Naeem Shahzad came to the middle and immediately settled into his usual pattern as he cut the first ball for a boundary through Point and then drove past Mid Off for another from the second ball he faced. His strike rate was high but his stay was short much to the dismay of his team mates and Shahzad (15) was bowled by Gallagher.

Phoenix were yet again stung by a quick double blow but Moore and Dismore did well to not only steady things in the over preceeding drinks but also keep the runs flowing at a nice rate. Dismore smashed a huge 6 straight down the ground and bashed another couple of boundaries as he started to look dangerous.

Phoenix were 86 for 4 at drinks and were in decent shape heading into the second half of the innings. The first couple of overs following a break can be a dicey time, though, and Dismore (21) fell to a shot very similar to that of Ebbs and Walker. With the little bit of extra bounce that bowling down the hill offered any mistimed drive was going to be punished. However the partnership had been a good one adding 31 runs to the total.

Moore and Mumtaz were the next duo to get together and try and push Phoenix towards a defendable total. Mumtaz was his usual inperturbable self in the early going. The man dubbed ‘The Wall’ was happy to have a look at the bowlers in the early going and play his way into the game. At the other end Moore did his best to hit the gaps and push the singles that were there.

The pair did well together and slowly wound up through the gears. Despite not being the most natural looking athletes at the club the calling and running of short, sharp singles (and not relying on taking risks with big shots) was something that may others at the club could and should take note of.

While the stoical Moore was happy to knock it around Mumtaz started to fancy the bowling once he bedded in. Halverstown made the mistake of attacking him on middle and leg and Mumtaz made a surge as they bowled right into his arc.

Moore was the first to pass the half century mark as he smashed a straight drive down the ground over Mid Off for a boundary but Mumtaz wasn’t far behind him as he started to pick off boundaries at will. Mumtaz finally fell in the last over for 54 from 49 balls with 8 boundaries. It was an excellent knock and one which gave his side a good shot at winning the game. He has shown his versatility since coming to the club as he can both defend and attack with equal intensity and application.

Mick McDonough came to the crease with only one ball of the game remaining. This is an unenviable task at the best of times but he knew just what to do as he smoked the last ball of the game over wide Long On for a maximum doing his strike rate no harm at all!

Moore carried his bat for 61 from 104 balls with 8 boundaries as the 5th XI posted 189 from their alloted 40 overs.

Without turning this match report into a ex post facto piece of revisition history worthy of Stalin’s CPSU we will not delve into the second half of the game. What was needed to be said about the Phoenix performance was said in the dressing room after the game amongst team mates.

Suffice to say the bowling and fielding were poor bordering on terrible and overall the side let itself down. There was, and will be, no finger pointing as the 5th XI win and lose as a team every week of the season. The performance was not up to scratch and Halverstown easily chased the total with 8 wickets and 10.4 overs to spare. A massive disappoinment for Phoenix after having posted such a good total.

Asim Mumtaz bagged MotM honours with his first half century for Phoenix.