The morning dawned gloomy, with a typhoon hitting Southern China. The Pirates assembled sleepily at Jiankang University for the supposed 9am start against Jiaozhi (Shanghai Communications Polytechnic), only to discover the schedule changes had pushed the game to 2pm.
So the ten Pirates at the ground decided to have a warm up on one of the fields, playing partnerships. Ben Collins and Andrew Jackson finished on top with 38 off their 4 overs, including one huge six over the stadium roof into the adjacent construction site. A team lunch was arranged at a nearby Cantonese restaurant, and the team was in good spirits despite the mixup and the delayed start. Jackson and Alex Cummings, who could not make the afternoon game, were replaced by Jagath Ratnayake and Ravinder Reddy at the last minute.
There are three fields at Jiankang University, and so we toured the university to find the correct field at 1.30pm. Sameer Jolly arrived first and immediately won the toss, electing to bat. Achal Gurnani (11) and Vinny Viswanath (22) went out to bat for a short, but effective, opening partnership of 25 off the first three overs. Govind Raj (38) and Sumesh (20) started to accelerate the scoring, taking full toll of the short square boundaries and hitting 4 sixes between them.
A couple of quality catches from Jiaozhi fielders, Qing Peng and Sun Ning, bought Ben Collins (87*) and Jolly (43*) to the crease for an unbeaten partnership of 125 off the final 9 overs. Collins was especially brutal over square leg, regularly clearing the fence on either side of the pitch to hit 4 sixes and 14 fours. Jolly was more elegant, driving off the back foot through the covers with ease, and was unlucky not to face enough of the final 3 overs to bring up his own milestone. Yu Xiaotian (4-0-38-1) was the pick of the Jiaozhi bowlers, and they put in a lot of effort in the field, but the short boundaries allowed the Pirates to post a scarcely believable total of 248/4.
Gentle rain began to fall during the mid-innings break, but it paused long enough for the Jiaozhi innings to commence. Raj and Sumesh opened up with the new ball in the wet. Raj (4-0-18-1) bowled opener Chen Jinfeng on the first delivery of the innings, and was unlucky not to have another couple of wickets as catches were missed in the slippery conditions. Ali Qureshi (3-0-14-1) bowled three overs of his left-arm spinners, picking up a bowled with a lovely delivery.
The rain drifted back over the field, and William Griffin (2-0-25-0) attracted a couple of run outs during his overs, including a well-set Chen Xiaoran (22), although he conceded several boundaries square of the wicket. Mark Henwood (3-1-10-2) removed Sun (8) with so slow a delivery that the batsman had time to finish his pull shot and pop the ball off the back of his bat to Reddy at gully, who jumped and made the catch after a few juggles.
Gurnani (2-0-13-0), bowling leg-spin, and Jolly (2-0-7-0), off the short run-up, finished off the innings well. The rain got a little heavier, and with the game already won, all the fielders came up for the final over. Peng obliged by hitting 4 fours through backward point to bring up a fine 59*, and give Ratnayake (1-0-18-0) unfortunate bowling figures. The ball skidded through during the second innings on the wet artificial surface, making batting more difficult. Jiaozhi battled to 122/6 off their 20 overs giving the Pirates their first win of the season by 126 runs.
The final game of the year for the Pirates in the SCA league is at the same venue next Saturday at 2pm.