The 5th XI went down at home to Railway Union last weekend in a reasonably high scoring encounter. On an excellent early season wicket the batsmen made hay while the bowlers had to toil for any success. In fact there were a number of bizarre dismissals on the day that inflated total of wickets fallen to 12. Without the weird and wonderful happening out in the middle the wickets fallen would have remained firmly in single figures.
Phoenix lost the toss, again!, and were asked to field on a warm afternoon. Vanessa Kelada and Hasann Mumtaz took the new ball and made a decent start. Runs, while not exactly at a premium, were not flowing freely either. It was Hasan Mumtaz who, yet again, provided the early breakthrough for the home side. He had Clarke (9) caught behind off a thin deflection and the batsman walked as soon as the ball hit the gloves of Ebbs behind the stumps.
The left arm seamer was in on the act again soon after. He had a strong appeal for LBW turned down by the umpire before cleaning up Durrani (4) the very next ball. At the other end Kelada was unlucky not to pick up a wicket as Byrne, who would go on the drive the Railway Union innings, flashed one through the slip cordon.
Railway’s batsman consolidated thereafter and got their side back on track. The introduction of Phoenix skipper, Graham Mooney, into the bowling attack stunted the run rate. He was unlucky not to have a wicket first ball of his spell but the catch went down at Mid Off. A tight spell of bowling built pressure on the Railway batsmen but it was an unorthodox set up that yielded the next wicket. After bowling the widest of wides outside of off stump the skipper had Chisholm (3) snaffled by Ebbs next ball with a leg side strangle. Yet again the Railway batsman wasted no time in walking and they were reduced to 54 for 3.
What followed next was one of the most bizarre phases of play that will have been seen in the park in quite a while. The introduction of Tom Walker into the bowling attack proved to be an inspired decision by Mooney but definitely not in the way he intended. The English twirler landed some good deliveries in testing areas but none of those would conjour up a wicket. It was the rubbish that would prove too much for Railway to handle.
Before that came, though, Connolly (0) contrived to run himself out after toing and froing mid pitch. Young Abdullah Ahmad, who was excellent in the field throughout, made his mark on his senior debut as he swooped in from the covers and fired to Ebbs behind the stumps and he finished the job.
Khaliq came to the crease to face up to his first ball from Walker. Short and wide does not come close to describing the delivery that came upon Khaliq (0) but he somehow managed to drag on to his stumps and took an ingnominious walk back to the shed. Walker, to his credit, did not have the effrontery to celebrate.
Then, with only further 3 runs on the board, Walker was at it again. A couple of testing deliveries were successfully negotiated before he unleashed a double bouncer which was driven back towards the bowler. He threw out his hands and managed to hang on leaving Ravi (2) as bemused as his predecessor Khaliq. At least on this occasion the catch was worthy of taking a wicket.
Railway had been reduced to 66 for 6 and looked as though they would struggle to set a challenging total. However for the fourth consecutive time this season Phoenix failed to press home their advantage after leaving the batting side in a precarious position. Much credit should go to the adhesive Byrne and the free hitting Jackson. Both batsmen showed a good array of shots and were patient when needs be. However it is impossible to overlook the lack of cutting edge from the Phoenix bowling yet again.
Runs started to flow more freely as the game progressed and the Railway duo started to have their way with the Phoenix bowling. The next wicket fell with Jackson (49) caught on the boundary. He was very unfortunate not to have posted a half century but the 97 run partnership he had put on with Byrne had swung the game in his sides favour. Byrne had cruised past his half century and went on to finish with an unbeaten 85 as his side posted 191 runs off their 40 overs.
If Phoenix bowling has been erratic this season then the batting has at least shown improvement with each passing game. Aidan Chester was back in as opener after a brilliant knock away to Adamstown a week earlier but Adam Bampfield was on 4th XI duty for the weekend and would be sorely missed.
Chester and Moore opened for Phoenix and made steady progress in the early going. The pair were unhurried early on but runs still came readily and the pair moved things along at a decent pace. As usual Chester pounced on anything short and he hit the first boundary of the innings with a trademark pull shot through midwicket. At the other end Moore worked the ball around for singles and kept the scoreboard ticking over. The pair had cruised along to 41 for 0 after 9 overs before disaster struck and Phoenix fell foul of their very own bizarre dismissal.
With the wicketkeeper standing up to the stumps Ravi bowled to Chester (11). The ball hit a combination of bat, stumps, wicket keeping pads and batsmans pads. It all happened in a flash and Railway went up in appeal. The umpire at Square Leg gave the signal and Chester was on his way back to the pavilion. It was a huge blow for Phoenix as Chester has proven the mainstay of the batting since last season.
Doc Ahmad came to the crease to replace him batting up the order at number three and things got back on track. After taking a little while to get off the mark he began to find some scoring shots and the run rate picked up once more. Phoenix found themselves 74 for 1 at drinks and in a good position to try and chase down the total.
Ahmad (23) was soon to depart after the restart, though, as he was run out. He was not short of his ground but he had failed to run his bat in and had to make the long walk back to the pavilion. Ebbs (1) was the next man in but he was trapped in front by Clarke not long after and Railway really had their tails up.
Asim Mumtaz came in and stabilized proceedings with a measured approach. He began to pick up some singles after an initial period of settling in and together with Moore began to push the ball around and hit the gaps. Time was beginning to be against Phoenix , though, and Railway were bowling much better towards the back end than Phoenix had.
The hosts were still in with a fighting chance going into the final five overs. The equation was 50 off 30 balls. A tough task at the level but not an impossible one either. Mumtaz (26) was out stumped in the first ball of the 36th over and things got a little more difficult.
Phoenix still had some powerful hitters to come but it was not to be for them. Maginnis (2) came and went LBW without pushing things on and skipper Mooney (4) fell soon after with the ball shaving the merest fraction of his leg stump.
The game was now beyond Phoenix but Walker and Moore did their best to hit out. A slog sweep boundary in the penultimate over looked to be a hollow act of defiance but it did inch Phoenix closer to the target. Walker ended the game by pushing an single to Third Man and that was enough to gain an extra bonus point for the hosts. Who knows what the extra point may mean at the seasons end. Maybe something, maybe nothing. Walker finished 4* and Moore 68*.
In the end it was an enjoyable game played in a sporting manner with good weather on a well prepared pitch. The only thing missing was a Phoenix win. The 5th XI now look forward to a week off due to the BKISC refix. A big thanks to all those on the day who came down to support us. An extra special thanks to Mrs Mumtaz for the chocolate cake! And the very best of luck to Railway for the rest of the season.
Railway Union 191 for 7 off 40 overs
P Byrne 85*
A Jackson 49
– – –
H Mumtaz 2/21
T Walker 2/24
Phoenix 171 for 5 off 40 overs
S Moore 68*
A Mumtaz 26
– – –
A Jackson 2/29
A Ravi 2/41
Railway Union won the toss and elected to bat
Phoenix lost by 20 runs
Man of the Match: A Jackson (Railway Union)