The Pirates match against HKCC drew an overwhelming response of players available for the fixture, so the Pirates squad included a full 13 players. So discussions at the tour dinner on Saturday night between the captains, Mark Henwood and David Varley, led to a 13-a-side game the following morning. The following morning was pleasantly warm, with a gentle breeze across the field, and ideal for cricket. The Hong Kong skipper won the toss and elected to bat.
Things began well for the Pirates as Ankit Kawatra (3-0-9-1) struck in the first over to remove regular tourer, Bob Bettridge (0), and soon after Adarsh Lobo threw in a sharp return to runout Madhav Shankar (5). The first change bowlers, Sameer Jolly (3-0-9-0) bowling left arm swing off two paces, and Santosh Yadav (2-0-3-1) bowling spin, were both miserly and at the 10 over drinks break the HKCC side were 28/3.
After drinks, Sid Sinha ran out last and was asked to field in slips, where he immediately took a fine catch off Henwood (3-1-6-4) to remove Alex Brookes (15), who was starting to lift the runrate. In Henwood’s second over Lobo took an incredible catch on the cow corner boundary, Mukul Singh executed a smooth stumping, and Vinny Viswanath made a loopy catch at short midwicket look easy. The HKCC side were reduced to 41/7 after 15 overs. However, they made a fightback as first Nick Hedley (15), then Hamish Dickie (17) and Tej Sheopuri (16*) picked up the scoring rate remarkably. Hamish Dickie was particularly aggressive in his batting and cleared the long-on boundary with a fine lofted drive off Desmond de Silva (3-0-23-1). After losing a couple of late wickets, to de Silva and Sinha (2-0-19-1), the HKCC side finished on a respectable 101/9.
The Pirates began the second innings with a solid opening partnership of 26 off the first four overs between Jamie Boynton (10) and Viswanath (15). The HKCC bowlers then bowled well, particularly David Varley (3-0-11-2) and the Pirates runrate stalled as Alex Cumming (2) and Sinha (2) fell cheaply. Singh (11) batted solidly through the middle overs, before Kawatra (19) launched into the bowling and one well timed slog sweep landed amongst the spectator’s tent on the deep mid-wicket boundary. Sheopuri (3-0-24-1) made the breakthrough, claiming Kawatra out LBW, and that bought Lobo (18) to the crease.
Lobo immediately made an impact, lofting two incredible straight sixes into the breeze off Ayush Shukla (3-0-20-1), and at the other end, Wotton (11) was looking composed. The Pirates needed 12 off the final over, but couldn’t quite get there. Some good fielding at long-off prevented a boundary, and with a six required off the final delivery, Lobo was bowled by Ryan Buckley (3-1-9-2), the standout bowler from the HKCC side.
A jovial, and enjoyable, lunch and fines session followed at the SCSC clubhouse, with numerous awards and presentations made by both sides, including some presented by long-time SCC member and regular in the matches between the sides, John L’Epagniol. It was a great game of cricket, played in good spirit, and competitive down to the final delivery. Both sides look forward to the next fixture when HKCC tours Shanghai again.