BBC stunned by final over defeat

In a season of sometimes lacklustre performances, this stood out as a perfect example of how well this BBC team can play when the collective mind is put earnestly to the task.

It is, however, often more difficult to reconcile in one's mind those defeats could have, should have, or would have been better but for tiny twists and turns in a game, than it is the obligatory thumping at the hands of a team like Victoria.

So in a season of such results, this narrow defeat against old adversaries, Queen's Park, was possibly the most excruciating.

The batting performance was not perfect, but a strong partnership of 93 from the returning openers David Holmes (31) and Ewan Crawford (59), provided a platform for those who followed to go after the Queen's Park bowlers.

Some managed it more successfully than others, but a final-over flourish by Kamran Butt, scoring four 4s from the last four balls, set a very defendable total of 148, the highest that the BBC batsmen have achieved against QP.

It was a final over that in the words of QP captain Tariq Din "turned the match...and turned the score from just OK to a high target."

This club has enjoyed an ever improving relationship and competitiveness with Queen's Park over the last couple of seasons, but no one was quite prepared for the innings that followed.

After much pre-match tactical discussion and lessons learned from the previous encounter, it was decided to open with this season's two wicket-takers-in-chief, Ani Vaidya and Bharat Balani, to force QP left-handed opener, Mohammed Kamran, into manufacturing his own shots and generating his own pace.

It was a tactic that paid dividends, but even after the first ball, QP were on the back foot: wicketkeeper, Jack McGill, took advantage of early confusion to run out Naveed Hussain, the first of three run-outs.

Kamran was being forced by Ani Vaidya to find runs through the offside and there, at extra cover, he found Peter Mellis with an uppish drive that came firing like a cannonball from the middle of his bat. It took one of the catches of the season to take the crucial wicket.

Kamran stood at his crease for several seconds, stunned by both the quality of the catch and the magnitude of the moment. He had come into the game off the back of scores of 74* and 82 and must have known that his early dismissal had turned the match in the BBC's favour.

It was an advantage pressed home by the BBC who were alert in the field, constantly harassing the batsmen, and bowling in the right areas. Impressive spells by Colin Moffat and Matt Walmsley brought wickets and tied down the QP run rate, as captain, Tariq Din, poked and prodded his team to their 100.

The closing overs looked like producing a tight finish, but with the blistering pace of Kamran Butt and controlled aggression of Matt Walmsley, QP were still left needing 25 runs from the last eight balls.

With only seven balls to play, McGill took the fateful decision to easily run-out Tariq Din. Had calmer heads prevailed, a pause for thought might have led everyone to consider that the two batsmen at the crease stood no chance of reaching their target and should be left exactly where they were.

The wicket, however, was enthusiastically celebrated. With seven balls to play, the BBC cricketers huddled and the skipper implored everyone to remain focused.

Still with the target of 24 to win, the new batsman, Fazal Ul-haq, took his guard for the final over, which was bowled by the hitherto excellent Kamran Butt.

A six from the first ball over mid-wicket set alarm bells ringing and was swiftly followed by another over the head of the bowler. A bit of top-edge prevented the third from reaching the boundary and presented Ewan Crawford with a tough chance of a catch, but normal service was resumed on the fourth ball with another six.

So, with two balls remaining, four runs were needed, but Fazal needed little invitation to dispatch one last six over square-leg, to give Queen's Park a four-wicket win with a ball to spare.

No blame for defeat could be apportioned to any one BBC player. All played their part and can be proud of a tremendous performance. And the improvement too from the previous week's debacle at Accies was clear to see. Perhaps this could foster a new-found steely resolve in this team.

Next up is GHK at Old Anniesland in the Quarter-Finals of the Greenwood Cup. Sursum Semper, as they say in those parts.

BBC: 148-6
QP: 152-6 (19.5o)

QP win by four wickets

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