JCL Grand Final: Tigers Tame Quashers In Tense Final
- One Short - Cricket Reports
Tigers Cricket Club overcame a spirited Alpha Quashers Yokohama to win by 53 runs and claim their first Japan Cricket League title on an action packed day at the Sano International Cricket Ground.
Winning the toss and batting first the Tigers were suddenly up against the wall as Nandha Rangasamy (2/12) knocked over both openers inside the first five overs.
That meant captain Sabaorish Ravichnadran was in earlier than he would have liked but he set about steadying the ship in his usual unruffled manner. The Quashers stuck to their task however and grabbed wickets either side of the drinks break to leave Tigers four down with just 62 on the board and at that stage felt in control.
A fifth wicket partnership of 31 seemed to have steadied things for the Tigers as Manoj Bhardwaj played his customary support role as Ravichandran passed 50, however the introduction of Raman Tanwar changed momentum again.
With the score on 93/4 Tanwar produced a golden spell to remove the dangerous Ravichandran for 58, and the next two batsmen without scoring, and suddenly the score was 93/7 and the Tigers were reeling.
With the game on a knife edge, Puneet Kumar (23) came to the aid of Bhardwaj (41) as they first dug in, and then started scoring freely in a partnership of 58 that changed the entire complexion of the match.
As the tension mounted in the Tigers camp, Bhardwaj appeared to injure himself and was limping badly as he ran between the wickets, but battled bravely on with the title on the line.
The pair scored at almost five-an-over and laid a platform for Piyush Kumbhare (14*) to smash two sixes late in the innings to propel the Tigers to 171/9 after 40 overs when it looked like 120 might be a stretch at one point. Tanwar’s 3/25 the pick of the bowlers for AQCC.
Quashers desperately needed their top order to fire, but momentum was well and truly with the Tigers and Puneet Kumar who duly dismissed Karthik Vellingiri with the very first ball of the second innings.
In a final where many felt spin would be key, it was the Tigers seamers who strangled the Quashers in the early exchanges. Kumar finished with 2/18 from his seven-over opening spell, and Swapnil Chaurasia 3/11 from his seven, including Quasher captain Rohit Kesari as Tigers had their opponents two down before a run was scored.
That heaped all the pressure on Vinay Iyer who watched as wickets tumbled from the other end. At 19 for five a lesser man might have thrown in the towel, but Iyer kept battling and gradually found support.
A 38-run partnership with Gurman Singh (26) took Quashers passed 100 in the 32nd over with three wickets still in hand, a similar situation that the Tigers had been in earlier on.
Momentum was key however, and although Iyer would go on to record a 5th half century in just seven innings this season, his unbeaten 52* was not enough as Sabaorish Ravichandran delivered his leg spin to brutal effect, grabbing three wickets including the last to seal the title and spark joyous celebrations.
Ravichandran is certainly the jewel in the Tigers crown; leading run-scorer (449 at an average of 56 and strike rate of 126) and leading wicket-taker (17 wickets at an average of 8.06 and economy of 3.30).
While it was a disappointing day for the Alpha Quashers, that does not take away from an excellent season for them, but ultimately the Tigers depth and quality was too much.
It proved a good weekend for the Tigers as their 2nd XI defeated Tokyo Falcons by a huge 111-run margin in the Division Two Final, becoming the first team since Sano CC in 2017 to do the Division 1 & 2 double.
Meanwhile the Tokyo Rangers won Division Three at the first attempt, the Tokyo Falcons again missing out as Rangers chased down their score of just 102 with five wickets in hand.
As always a big thanks must go to the match officials on the day, as well as all those who have given up time to stand as umpires in games this year. Above all of course, thanks must go to the JCL Committee for their efforts in making sure the leagues have run during the most challenging of years.
Those who wish can watch the full replay of the Division One Final on the JCA YouTube Channel.
Well that’s almost it from One Short, we will of course be running “The Shorties” at some point before the year end, so keep your eyes peeled for that! Thanks for reading!