As the SCC League gets set for a furious two-month finish to the season, we take a look back at the first half of 2011 and highlight some of the standout performances.
The 2011 SCC League season opened on a sunny April 17, with Division 1 Daredevils CC facing the Bashers CC, and the defending champion DPR Hot Dogs against Pudong Power. By the end of the day, the Pudong Power had their first win in two seasons, and the Daredevils repeated their 2010 semi-final performance, besting the Bashers with strong batting.
As the weeks progressed and the season took shape, each division began to see some top cricket emerge. In Division 2, new addition Devils Digital, the 2010 Division 3 champions, continued their winning ways as they stormed to a 6-1 record thanks to a strong bowling attack and good run support. Pudong Power meanwhile, began their season with four straight losses before righting the ship and reeling off five wins in a row to move to the top of the standings going into this weekend.
In Division 3, the Dulwich Knights took an early lead, winning five of their first seven matches. Thanks to a schedule that loaded their early and late season with matches, they remained at the top of the table for nearly three months before being overtaken by Pudong Power on July 17.
Division 1 saw its share of changes as well, as early leader Bashers CC saw their position at the top slip after dropping three matches in June and July as they twice fell to the booming bat of K2’s man-mountain, Shafqat. The Bashers momentarily regained the top position this past week on points, but have playe one more game than second place DPR Hot Dogs and third place K2 CCC so they will lose the top spot by the end of this weekend.
There were also some standout individual performances in the first half of the year. Shafqat lifted his team to victory over the Daredevils with the first century of 2011, scoring 122. The second century came against K2 when Bashers CC all-rounder Darren Manning scored 107 in a loss that saw Shafqat score 94 off 48 deliveries for K2.
With new rules in place for 2011 that no longer required batsmen to retire on 50, Division 2 saw its share of big totals as well. Vinay Kumar came within one run of being the first Division 2 player to reach a century when he powered the DPR Hot Dogs past Devils Doosra with 99. The honour instead fell to Pudong Power’s Saad Haroon, who found himself at the non-striker’s end needing two runs to reach 100 in the last over of Pudong’s match against Devils Doosra. Batting partner Paul Golesworthy unselfishly allowed himself to be run-out to put Saad back on strike, who claimed the first century in Division 2 history on the final delivery of the innings (100*).
The bats did not stay silent in Division 3 either, where several batsmen walked back to the tents after retiring at 50* as per league rules. Included in this club were Nijesh Ahmed, Richard Butler, Dhamesh Chauhan, Norman Lau, Graeme McKim, Adam Patterson and James Perry.
Matching all of this explosive batting was a very determined bowling attack, with many bowlers taking five or more wickets in one spell, including Sanjay Anugula (6/26 vs K2), Arul Jason J (5/10 vs Leopards), John L’Epagniol (5/61 vs Pudong), James McLeod (5/34 vs Leopards), Vasanth Srinivasan (5/29 vs Bashers) and Bhaskar Vadlamani (5/19 vs Hot Dogs).
With 60 games completed, and another 51 to go until the champions are crowned, the final standings are still very much up in the air. Parity is the word for the 2011 SCC League, where the final three playoff spots in each division remain attainable for the vast majority of teams. One win will move a team up in the standings, one loss will move them down. Teams that are able to maintain their focus and string together wins over the next two months will be well positioned for the finals in October. With the Shanghai summer already in full effect, it is going to be one hot and wild ride.