Ngara Sports Club ‘A’s vice – captain Harsh Patel is confident of his team’s abilities in the wake of losing two of their main all – rounders in the thick of a heated Nairobi Provincial Cricket League (NPCA) season.
Tanzeel Sheikh will be out of action for the rest of the season as he embarks on his final semester in Pharmacy while Akash Shah studies for his Medical Board exams.
Patel blames his team’s dismal performance against Sir Ali last weekend to an all – round below par performance. “It was an all – round collapse by Ngara players, he says. We did not bowl and field to our best abilities and dropped some vital catches that helped Sir Ali get to that total. Despite having a decent start to our batting, we could not capitalize on it.”
Chasing 264 runs for victory at home, Ngara were bowled out for 192 runs with 30 balls to spare, marking their third consecutive loss since they beat Obuya Cricket Academy by 6 wickets.
However, Ngara will be happy that their youngsters have been stepping up in the absence of skipper Mehul Patel who missed the back end of the first leg and ‘finisher’ Nikul Patel who continues to be away since their surprise win over Swamibapa Sports Club ‘A’ by 4 wickets five weeks ago. The acquisition of Darshan Trivedi is yet to bear fruit for them with the bat, a promising start in both innings so far.
Aside from left arm spinner Vraj Patel whose impressive left arm orthodox has him second on the bowling charts with 23 wickets, Ngara still have capable all round youngsters in Dhey Patel and Manthan Joshi at the top of the batting order while Jigar Patel and Bharat Panchasara provide cover in the middle – lower order.
Patel believes a change in the batting order will breathe some fresh air into their diminished line up this weekend against Sikh Union Sports Club ‘A’. “We are going to have our seniors (skipper Mehul Patel, Karan Patel and myself) playing at the top, hoping our experience will topple the capable but young and inexperienced Sikh Union bowling unit.”
Way across town, Sikh Union are far from the young and inexperienced side that Ngara handed a 138 – run thumping in the first leg of the competition two months ago. Backed by their three overseas players, only four of their players will be making it back for their return Sunday encounter and Ngara may have to draw a completely different game plan.
With Satish Hirani unavailable and Dilan Shah having left the country for further studies, top order batter Harpreet Gill and all-rounders Sukhdeep Singh, Muhammad Kalyan and Raj Manji will face the visitors for the second time this season backed by their pros – Jassim Jitendra Matharoo, Sudhir Kumar Yadav and the explosive Deepak Singh.
With their pros ticking but lacking the extra nudge so far, Skipper Sukhdeep Singh hopes that as a team, they can help strengthen their batting with big scores. “We have had a lot of big contributions from them but we need something extra ordinary.” Kalyan, back from a frustrating maiden international appearance with the senior men’s side could also use the opportunity to complete a season ton that has so far seemed likely but yet too far. Out of the 18 – man touring squad, Kalyan was the only one who flew back home without making a single appearance in the 10 – match tour.
The skipper is also looking forward to better utilizing wicket keeper – batter Gurmanjot Singh who has scored only 30 runs from four innings. “We haven’t made use of him down the innings. At the stage he has been getting in, it’s confusing as to whether he needs to take his time or go for the big hits. He has done well as a regular opener in past seasons and given the experience, I have good confidence in him going forward,” states the skipper.
Separated by a win, Ngara seemingly stuck at 7th, Sikh Union will be hoping for a huge win to leapfrog their opponents with a superior run rate.