King City was the venue for one of the most anticipated clashes of the regular season this past Saturday, as there was the first rematch of last year’s Elite Division finalists, Vikings Cricket Club and Brampton Masters Cricket Club. In a tense encounter, Vikings emerged victorious by a 5 wicket margin.
The Bramptonians took to the crease first, and were under early pressure courtesy of a disciplined spell from young quickie H. Kotak. The screws were further tightened as the spin triumvirate of S. Singh, T. Roberts and H. Chattergoon collaborated with I. Baldeo to restrict the Masters’ middle order. Despite this, the Masters’ number 3 batsman, A. Gopie, continued with a dogged innings (punctuated with some slices of luck) to score a fighting century. His late innings heroics helped Brampton Masters to post a total of 188, which seemed to be a bit more than Vikings had hoped to chase given the state of the match in the middle overs. Added to the anxiety was the threat of rain, which had been forecast for the day and which threatened to add Mr. Duckworth and Mr. Lewis to the already tenuous situation. The drizzle eventually flattered to deceive, but still had eaten away enough time to cause a slight change in the target – 181 runs to win in 46 overs. It was going to be a competitive total, as the permutations of run rates and Duckworth-Lewis par scores had to be constantly kept in mind.
Vikings, as always, decided that the best way to begin was confidently, and the openers, D. Soraine and K. Arjune, set out to establish a launching pad from which the innings could develop. They began in earnest, observing the fiery deliveries from the opening bowlers with a calculated mixture of solid defence and positive strokeplay. Despite the early loss of the powerful Soraine, who was unlucky to be caught in the deep, Vikings were clearly adhering to one of the oldest sayings in cricket – the key to successful batting is building partnerships. The rock of the innings was Arjune, whose steely resolve, polished shot-making and sheer physical stamina were a sight to behold. His innings, which eventually tallied 88 not out, was a study of quality batsmanship, and was a treat for the spectators. The 2nd wicket partnership between Arjune and Z. Khan was integral in propelling the Vikings’ total forward, though the fall of Khan for a valuable 33, followed by the relatively quick departures of J. Patraj and A. Hanif, threw the match into high tension. In the face of the nervous circumstances, Z. Haniff came to the crease and added much-needed impetus to the innings. His positive knock was able to clearly put Vikings into the lead and, as the runs-to-balls-remaining equation became more manageable, even the run out of Haniff could not stop the march to victory. As the Skipper, H. Chattergoon, came in and helped to professionally end the job alongside Arjune, the mission had been completed. Vikings’ legion of fans, which had to contend with the vociferous Brampton Masters supporters all day, was in raptures, and loud chants of “Who are the Kings? VIKINGS!” echoed in the evening air.
Vikings was truly on a mission on Saturday last – a mission of redemption. Still emotionally stung by the heartbreak of a tense defeat at the hands of Brampton Masters in last year’s Elite Finals, there was a measure of retribution attained by such an all-round shellacking of the co-leader of the 2011 Elite Division. It was, as they say, a “sweet win.” Additionally, it served as a tremendous confidence boost for the players and supporters, as the playoffs are quickly approaching. In what could well be a possible preview of the 2011 Elite finals, Vikings showed that they have the talent and the attitude to beat any team in the Elite division. As the playoffs loom, there is only one thing left to do – join the chorus of spectators after Saturday’s victory and shout, “LET’S GO VIKINGS LET’S GO!”