YMCA’s cricket team rode through a stormy sea of emotions over a three-day stretch last week, identifying with the Lenny Kravitz song “It Ain’t Over ’til it’s Over.”
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Last Thursday night, the wind blew against the YMCA in its match against the ever-improving Modi’in Young Lions.
After the Young Lions was put into bat, its first two partnerships struggled to amass a decent total, thanks to good tight bowling by Sol Talker, Gideon Sacofsky and skipper Brett Hickson. By the end of its third batting pair, it had only mustered a sub-par total of 40. It was up to the two veterans of the league, all-rounder Herschel Gutman and Yefeth Nagavkar, to raise the final total to a more respectable 87.
The YMCA’s opening pair, Eshkol Solomon and Sacofsky, got off to a fairly good start despite having to face the very intelligent bowling of Gutman and Yefeth Nagavkar. The subsequent two partnerships consolidated the total to 78, leaving the final pairings to score what seemed at the time like a simple 10 runs.
After an unnecessary run-out and an excellent over by Yair Nagavkar, the proverbial tide had already begun to turn and YMCA suddenly found itself needing five off the last over, bowled by seasoned bowler Yefeth Nagavkar. Five balls later the Myers brothers had reached their target off a no-ball and had to simply see off the last ball of the game without losing a wicket. As Nagavkar came charging in to bowl, Gutman edged ever so closer to Aryeh Myers, who was facing, and in a momentary lapse of concentration (by his own admission) got a leading edge into the outstretched hands of Gutman. Game over as Modi’in won by three runs, ending YMCA’s five-match winning streak.
A couple of days later, the stunned YMCA team came up against the dangerous Mumbai Challengers, who had struggled to adapt to the shorter form of the game at the beginning of the season but by now had found a winning formula.
Hickson won the toss and sent the Challengers in to bat, figuring that they were masters at chasing totals but maybe less effective at setting them. For the first three batting pairs, the runs seemed to flow effortlessly. With quick singles being taken quite freely, the normally boisterous YMCA fielders became quieter and the game seemed to be slipping from their grasp. However, a formidable bowling spell of 3 wickets for 6 runs by Saul Weitzman and strong supporting figures of 1 for 3 by villain-turned-hero Yefeth Nagavkar put the strangle on the Challengers, and they ended up with a total of 87 – eerily, identical to the score of the Modi’in Young Lions two nights before.
Once again, the YMCA team went about its business chasing a decent score, but this time left the final pair of Nagavkar and Emmanuel Solomon with a bit more work to do, chasing a further 19 runs. It all boiled down to the final ball of the match, with two needed to win. The batsmen could only make the one, so we were off to a “super over” play-off, in which each player bowls three balls and each batting pair gets to face six balls.
Again Hickson won the toss and again he put the Challengers into bat first. Clint Rubin was the first to bowl and, after opening with a wide, combined with the brilliant fielding of substitute fielder Yair Nagavkar to claim a runout with his next ball. Emmanuel Solomon was the next to bowl, and he also claimed a priceless scalp. All of a sudden the impressive Mumbai Challengers were -6 after 6 balls. With the YMCA team a player short, the Challengers could choose any one of their opponents to bowl another 3 balls and they made the mistake of asking Rubin to bowl again. He claimed another wicket, and the Challengers ended up with a poor score of 10, which seemed well within the reach of their fired-up opponents.
Incredibly, with all to play for, the YMCA team got itself into all sorts of trouble with the opening pair of Hickson and Rubin losing two wickets in their allotted six balls. It took a brave and aggressive partnership of 9 from Aryeh Myers and Emmanuel Solomon to bring the team back into the game. Eventually, the last pair of Yefeth and Saul Weitzman needed 4 runs off the last 6 balls.
They also lost a wicket and the team began to sense that sickening feeling of the tide turning against them again when they needed 4 off 2 balls. But then Nagavkar found the inner wall, and the batsmen came through for a run leaving them two to get off the last ball.
While the Challengers were pondering their tactics for that all-important final ball, and with both teams teetering on the brink of a potential historic bowl-off, Yefeth sensed an opportunity to sneak in another run. The normally lethal Challengers panicked as they were caught off guard and threw the ball waywardly to the wicketkeeper, which allowed Weitzman and Nagavkar to sneak in another overthrow – reaching YMCA’s target with a ball to spare for a thrilling victory and a return to the number one spot in the league.
In the league’s other matches, YMCB lost its 8th straight match, this time by 44 runs to the improving KAT Israemploy. David Berinson and Dovi Paltiel scored an excellent 54 runs in their four overs to help KAT to 119.
Beit Shemesh Royals climbed to 7th after securing its third win of the season. The Royals scored 107 and restricted the young Beit Shemesh Braves to 13. Wicket takers for the game were Yoni Berinson, Uriel Finkelstein, Aryeh Ofstein, Natan Wigman, Yehuda Bloch and Chovav Wigman with one each, while Ari Lewis picked up two and Yonni Sidelsky three. The Wigman brothers combined to score the highest partnership of the game with 36 runs.