Phoenix 5th XI got their Division 12 season underway in a cold but dry Phoenix Park yesterday.
The Phoenix team was Graham Mooney, Stephen Black. Rehane Quereshi, Ijaz Ahmed, Evan Chester, Aidan Chester (c) , Louis McDonagh, Sankeerth Karpe, Theo Dempsey, Zafarullah Mohommed, Mick McDonagh.
Merrion won the toss and decided to bat first (they must have known they were going to bat first as the entire team was padded up for the toss!).
New member Ijaz opened the bowling and Merrion found it difficult to get bat on ball from the off At the other end Theo Dempsey got his season underway with a very consistent spell of bowling just outside off stump. A captain’s dream as if bowlers can bowl in the same areas consistently then we can set our fields accordingly!
With scoring very slow in the first 5 overs Merrion took a risky single, a great pickup from Evan in the covers had the batsman diving for his ground but Evan’s throw was off target and he was safe.
It was cold and blustery in Phoenix as first Sankeerth then Evan and Theo spilled catches in the next 10 overs; they should have been taken but it’s always hard at the start of a season to get the catches right!
Zafar came on next and the Merrion bats started getting the pace right and scoring started to become easier. Merrion seemed to like the pace bowling so the skipper tried a new plan; pace off the ball can only mean one thing – roll on Graham Mooney off his full run up! The plan worked straightaway and the big hitting opener was caught in the slips by Mick McDonagh.
At drinks Merrion were 84-1.
After drinks the next plan was hatched; Louis McDonagh took off the keeping pads and started bowling his leg spin snowballs (I told you it was cold!) from the Chesterfield Road end. Almost immediately there was a breakthrough as the Merrion bats didn’t like the slow turning deliveries from Louis. Keeper Mick demolished the stumps for Louis’ first wicket but it was the second wicket that on reflection turned our day. A high full toss was smashed over midwicket and most of us turned away waiting for the ball to be thrown back from the boundary. Suddenly, out of the corner of our eyes, we could see Evan racing after the ball with his eyes fixed on the ball. The ball powered past him but somehow in full tilt, as if he was on the rugby field like a fullback running to take a mark, he reached up over his shoulder and took the catch.
In fairness the Merrion team stood and roared the approval as we all raced 60 meters to congratulate Evan on a stupendous catch! 112-3
Catches win matches, and suddenly the wickets started to tumble. Evan snatched another off Louis’ bowling, followed by 2 more wickets for the young leg spinner (sorry keeper/batsman). Louis bowled 7 overs getting 5-38.
Just when Merrion seemed to get on top another wicket would fall. At the other end Sankeerth and Evan bowled 7 overs between them with an impeccable line and length just outside off stump. Sankeerth deserved better from his figures 5 over 0-20.
Zafar (1-23) and Theo (1-22 a peach of a slower ball bowling the batsman!) came back for second spells and with another run out in the mix Merrion were all out for 171 in the 36th over.
171 to us was a par score on a cold day but the outfield is getting faster so there was value to be had for good shots.
Stephen Black and Graham Mooney opened the Phoenix innings. While Mooney scratched around trying to remember how to bat Stephen has grown an inch or two over the winter and looked strong!
Some nice shots off the back foot and the innings had good momentum from the off. With the opening partnership at 41 the ordeal was over for Graham (and us) as he was mercifully bowled with a ball that looked like it was going down the leg side flicked his back leg and back onto the stumps. Rehani went it at 3 but was out LBW shortly afterwards as Merrion tried to put pressure on the Phoenix run chase.
Ijaz was in next and he and Stephen tried to turn the momentum back towards Phoenix. When Stephen was out caught behind (a fine 25 runs scored) things looked a little suspect. However Ijaz and Evan got the innings motoring again with some good stroke play. The shot of the day was Evan flat batting a 6 (the only 6 of the day!) over extra cover! Ijaz and Evan put on a 55 run partnership in only 7 overs to bring Phoenix to 99-3 at drinks.
As always you can be vulnerable just after drinks and soon Ijaz (33 runs) and Evan (23 runs) were back in the pavilion to leave Phoenix teetering at 113-5.
The Admiral and Louis McDonagh were in next and Merrion sensed a possible victory but Louis was resolute in both defence and attack with some great defence and some lovely shots to the boundary behind square on the offside to slowly get Phoenix to the total and a season starting win by 5 wickets. Louis finished 22 not out while the Admiral was 30 not out.
While Louis was undoubtedly the Man of the Match it is sometimes only true that the entire team contributed in a big way to a teams victory – but that was the case on this day – Louis got the wickets, but Evan’s catches, Theo and Sankeerth’s bowling, Mooney breaking a partnership, Zafar was clinical, Stephen batted really well while Ijaz and Evan kept the innings going in the right direction to make sure we got to our target. Mick took a good catch in the slips while Rehani fielded at square leg and never let anything past him!
The kids are a year older and we are looking forward to seeing them develop throughout the season! Next match away to Malahide!