The phrase “leading by example” has never been more eminent than in the performance of Merrion 3 skipper Sai Reddy in the concluding final of the weekend at Anglesea Road on Sunday.
An excellent afternoon for the Merrion stalwart began when he won the toss and elected to have first use of the pitch on their home ground. Reddy sent out Timcy Khanduja and Timothy Knight out to face up to Naufal Ahmed and Sonny Rosha.
Knight and Khanduja set off at a gallop, and the score had progressed to 44 before YMCA had a breakthrough. Daniel Swift coming into the attack as first change bowling Knight for 16, bringing Raghav Khurana to the crease, along with Khanduja, he brough the score to 70, before a double blow which could have threatened to de-rail Merrion.
Firstly some sharp work by Roy Maltby saw Khurana run out, quickly followed by Swift bowling Khanduja for a well-made 38 from just 25 balls. Any thoughts YMCA had of arresting the run rate though, were contrary to the mission Sai Reddy appeared to be on.
What makes what happened next even more remarkable is this, Reddy batted for the majority of his innings with a runner, having caused himself what had initially looked like a nasty hamstring injury early in his knock. Reddy shared stands of 15 and 33 with Hermanus Bester and Sean Hussey respectively, taking the score to 124 in the 17th over.
Reddy then went for broke, sending boundaries to all corners of the ground, none better than a muscled back foot cover drive for 4 to bring up his half-century off the first ball of the 18th over.
The Merrion skipper finished on 70* from just 34 balls, with 7 fours and four maximums to his name, and had helped his side to post a formidable looking total of 158/7 from their allotted 20 overs.
If that target didn’t already look formidable at the innings break, it certainly did after just five balls of the chase as Vishal Singh delivered a first over Merrion could only have dreamt of, dismissing both openers, Roy Maltby and YMCA skipper Sonny Rosha for first ball ducks.
This brought together Vipul Kashyap and Devansh Singh, this pair batted beautifully throughout the rest of the PowerPlay, depositing anything over-pitched to the boundary and advancing the score to 69 by the 9th over.
As had been the theme throughout the finals weekend though it’s seemed, a bowling change did the trick. Nitin Sharma came into the attack and trapped Singh in front for a fluent 31. Mayank Rajput joined Kashyap at the crease, they added 25 in a consolidating fashion, seemingly happy to push the field and set up a grandstand finish with wickets in hand in the chase.
Disaster then struck for YMCA, firstly Rajput was run out for 12, before Sivan Mangat was dismissed caught and bowled by Sharma without scoring. Sean Hussey then got in on the act by dismissing Kashyap for 37. 94/3 had become 96/6 and it was going to take something extremely special for YMCA to get close.
As it happened it was Hussey who provided something special for his side, taking the further wickets of Puneet Rosha, Naufal Ahmed Amanul and Daniel Swift, and this alongside the run out of Nithin Thambi saw the Claremont Road outfit bowled out for 126.
LHK Insurance Middle Cup Final 2020
Merrion 3 – 158/7 (20 overs) S Reddy 70*, T Khanduja 38; D Singh 3/29, D Swift 2/18
YMCA 3 – 126 all out (18.5 overs) V Kashyap 37, D Singh 31; S Hussey 4/23, V Singh 2/18, N Sharma 2/19
by 32 runs