By Kevin Wright, Shanghai CC Dragons Skipper
Shanghai CC went down to Beijing CC by five wickets in the hotly contested China Cup 2017 match at Dulwich College, Beijing. Kiwi batsman Liam was the hero for the home team, hitting an unbeaten 79 and laying a platform for Saeed to come in at the death and smite three huge sixes to see Beijing CC over the line.
Winning the toss and batting first, Shanghai started well thanks to some wayward Beijing bowling and a brace of well-timed cut shots from Santosh. With 43 on the board, Santosh fell to a dubious lbw decision, which brought Azeem to the crease to join Sam Kett. The two played fluently, with Azeem unleashing a couple of powerful pulls before falling to a top edge and an excellent running catch by the Beijing keeper.
Sam batted on unfazed and was well supported by Krish (23) and skipper Kevin Wright. He eventually fell for a well-made 67, including some excellent strokes off the back foot, while Kevin put to bed any worries about the condition of his injured hand, hitting two sixes in a fluent unbeaten 38.
Shanghai looked well set to score over 200, but some tight Beijing bowling at the back end of the innings restricted the visiting side to 192-5 from their 40 overs.
The Beijing run chase got off to a cautious start against the bowling of Pratik and Manik. Some aggressive strokes from Hafiz relieved a bit of the pressure, but with the score on 17 a Pratik in-swinger trapped Rauf lbw for 3 to get Shanghai on the board. A couple of beautiful deliveries from Krish then accounted for Hafiz (23) and Shah (2), with the latter being assisted by a great catch by Sam behind the sticks.
Tight bowling from the spin pairing of Adam Hopkins and Santosh turned the screw on the Beijing batsmen and when Prabath retired hurt with cramp, Shanghai seemed to be very much in the driver’s seat.
Despite Manik returning to the attack to account for Usman (4), Liam batted on with a cool head, going up through the gears nicely, taking advantage of some wayward bowling from the Shanghai seamers and surviving what would prove to be a costly drop in the deep off the bowling of Adam.
Requiring 84 from the final ten overs, Beijing accelerated quickly thanks to Safdar (17) and Liam. The arrival of Saeed at the crease was the turning point in the game. He struck three sixes and two fours in his whirlwind 37 not out, ending the game in fine style with an enormous maximum off Manik to see his side home with 2.5 overs to spare.
Although Shanghai arguably dominated most of the game, Beijing came out on top due to their ability to come good when it mattered. They were the better side at the death of each innings and that ultimately proved to be where the game was won and lost. Both teams should be proud of their efforts in what was a great game of cricket and a brilliant advertisement for the China Cup and cricket in this country.