Cricket is a funny game. Which is just one of the sport’s many clichés, but which again proved true on Friday, as the Indian Cricket Club of Egypt choked in the final of the Cairo Cricket League, after being in an unassailable position against their rivals, the Pakistani Cricket Club.
It was hot on Friday and there was no breeze at Mena House to cool things down as the Indian expatriates lost their heads and seven wickets in the last few overs, needing just eight runs for victory.
As I said, cricket is a funny game, because they didn’t lose either. The final ended in a tie.
The Pakistani expatriate team would have liked a few more runs, but their 134 was a respectable score and one they could defend if the bowling was tight. Bashir made 27 and Waheed 22 for the Pakistanis. Though the young Murad would have been disappointed with his 11 and was the first victim of Sajid who took four wickets from his six overs for the Indians.
There were plenty of runs on offer, but the Pakistani batsman chose the wrong tactics. With the all purpose mat offering an even bounce and the boundaries tantalizingly close, the batting technique was of the agricultural variety, when the batsman should have been looking for more singles and twos and keeping the fielders under pressure.
The West Indians used to say, “There was more room in the air, but their arsenal also included Richards, et al.
Under the gaze of Cheops Pyramid, the Indian fielding could not be faulted.
There was a run out and a number of very good catches; the fielders well placed to snare the mistimed slogs.
The self described, “fast and furious, Anoop Sharma, bowled an important spell, conceding just 13 runs from his five overs, which added to the Pakistani tails’ frustration, as they committed some of the worst acts of hari-kari one could hope to see in park cricket.
But of course, an Indian can do anything a Pakistani can do, but only better.
As their middle order and tail out did the hari-kari with a kamikaze final act.
As you would expect from the Oberoi name, Mena House adds a festival feel to the cricket on Fridays and a hint of upper class snobbery for which the sport has often stood accused.
The 40 or so spectators were comfortably ensconced on chairs covered in golden cloth and shaded by wide golden umbrellas, silhouetted against a row green shrubbery. The Sahara desert’s last sand dune was to the West and the Great Pyramids of Giza tower over the ground, add the music and it could have been a scene from a Bollywood musical.
Following the scrumptious sambosas and keeping with the Pyramid theme, Sakara to wash them down, it being too hot for tea, the Indians confidently went out to bat.
Progress was good, with the wicket keeper Naresh Nagada scoring 46 and Amit Tharwal, who played in the Bombay League, chiming in with 38. The Indians were well set on 126 for three and eight overs in hand.
The match may have been tucked into a corner of Cairo, but there was no denying the passion in the competition. Each wicket was greeted with ecstatic whooping and players running in from all points on the boundary to join the celebrations.
A silver cup was up for grabs, but bragging rights are much more tangible and enjoyable to polish.
But no one will have the bragging rights this year in the six team league that runs from October to April.
A tie is anaesthetic to cricket. It doesn’t suit anyone. A draw is preferable to a tie, except that it is even more unlikely in limited over cricket than a tie.
It is the second tie in the last four years of the competition that has been running on and off over the last decade.
Apart from the finalists, teams from the Cairo Rugby Club, Alexandria, British Gas and the Muffadal Cricket Club from the Egyptian Indian community, take part in lively and spirited games that have done away with the LBW Law, which can often turn the mild mannered accountant into an uncontrollable baying victim of injustice.
There are other minor adjustments to the Laws, mostly concerning the boundaries, which is understandable when a giant sand dune lurks from square leg to deep mid-wicket.
For the cricket die-hards of the sub-continent a summer league is to be contested at Mena House and the Clubs always welcome new players:
For more information, contact Ajay Mehra 012 310 [email protected]