The toss was always going to play a vital role in deciding the outcome of the Grand Final at the Thai national cricket ground last weekend, and so it proved with the Southerners of Bangkok electing to bowl first on a damp, slow and low wicket.
Manik and Wezley Masterton opened the innings and runs were difficult to come by in the face of accurate seam bowling. Even the quick bowlers soon realised pace was no asset as they took the pace off and let the wicket dictate the run rate.
The first real stroke in anger resulted in Wez (6) being caught at mid off. Venky (13) clipped three sweetly timed boundaries off his legs before he was adjudged lbw to a ball keeping very low. Andrew Emery (8) and Lee Standen (3) both departed in quick succession which brought the PCC captain Simon Philbrook to the crease for a period of consolidation.
Once again Manik looked extremely composed as he accumulated runs steadily and the pair added 29 untroubled runs. Then after the drinks break Manik (38) was bowled by the impressive Arjun Kohli which triggered a spectacular collapse and from a total of 81 for 4 PCC were bowled out for just 99, Simon remaining unbeaten on 15. Arjun was the pick of the Southerners bowlers with figures of 5-11-3 which duly merited the man of the match award.
Wezley and Basu were excellent in PCC’s reply, giving the batsmen very little opportunity to score and soon the pressure told. Andrew Purser (2) was caught by Manik at mid-on from a leading edge off Wez and Simon held a cut shot immediately afterwards and the Southerners were 12 for 2. Excellent bowling and catching ensured no batsmen could impose themselves. Manik’s catch at short cover to dismiss Arjun (7) was outstanding and after 15 overs the game was evenly balanced at 61/4 but Vaughan McLear was 33 not out.
The tight bowling continued as PCC regularly rotated the bowlers and wickets continued to fall, including the wicket of Vaughan. Paul Hack produced the play of the day with a leg side stumping off the medium pace of Damith and the Southerners had reached 91/8. In the 25th and final over Lee had Nadeem (0) caught again by Manik, his fourth of the innings, and 4 runs were required from 5 balls. A single and a sliced cut for two that could easily have gone to hand meant the scores were level. A full pitched delivery hit the batsman’s pads, a big appeal ensued and the batsmen scampered a single. The umpire’s decision was not out and the Southerners had won by 1 wicket.
It was the closest of finishes and a thrilling end to an amazing game of cricket which the PCC players and supporters found hard to accept but the players should all hold their heads high.
PCC would like to thank the club sponsors PSC, Amigo Group, Macallan Insurance and Aegis International and encourage anyone for a passion for the game to join the club.