September 27, 2000

Purnima Rau's experience helps India A win low scoring match

When the result of a match is inconsequential, it is difficult for even the most professional of cricketers to give off their best. This was exactly the note on which India A and India C locked horns in the final league match of the CricInfo 2000 Tourney in Delhi. Some interest was infused into the match by the fact that the selectors were present and the future of several cricketers depended on how they performed. India A scored a good win by 16 runs over India C in a low scoring match.

After their performance in the first match, India A had no hesitation in electing to bat when they won the toss. However, things began to go pretty badly for the A side. Purnima Rau, batting at the top of the order alongside Aarti Vaidya, managed to get going. However Aarti Vaidya once again fell cheaply, being bowled by Jhulan after making just seven.

In the company of stumper Reshma Gandhi, Purnima managed to push the score on to 37 before she too was bowled, this time by Mamta Kishan. The pitch, which has been a source of growing concern for many, played dead slow and every now and then a ball refused to rise off the turf. After Purnima Rau was dismissed, things went from bad to worse.

While Reshma Gandhi looked in good nick and did not give any chances, she found virtually no support at the other end. Smitha Harikrishna, Jaya Sharma, Vaishali Landge, Jaya Sharma and Deepa Kulkarni all failed to reach double figures. With almost three overs to spare, India A were all out for just 103. Offspinner Bindeshwari Goel with 4/17 off her 9.1 overs picked up the last four wickets and returned the best figures of the innings.

History is littered with cases of small scores posing big problems to chasing sides. Well, today was one of those days. Gulshan and Anju Jain looked positive from the word go. After her unbeaten 53 in the previous game, Anju Jain looked like the ideal candidate to take the game away from India A. However a terrible mix up where shouts of "yes! Yes! Wait! No..." left her stranded mid pitch, Anju Jain was gone before she got off the mark. Gulshan was bowled before she reached double figures and two more run outs accounted for Amrita Shinde and Hemlatha Kala. The former batted well to get to 16 but did not manage to go on.

Stumper Arundhati Kirkire made 13 before she slashed at a ball from Purnima Rau to the waiting hands of Rupanjali Shastri at point. Wickets fell at regular intervals and the beginning of the 34th over saw India B all but defeated at 58/8. A spunky last wicket partnership of 29 between Bindeshwari Goel (9 not out) and the youngest member of the squad Mamta Kishen (16) raised hopes of the India C team. However, at the end of the day, when the last wicket fell to a run out and India C were all out for 87, the experience of Purnima Rau shone through. Using every bit of her vast cricket knowledge, she lead the side ably, constantly tinkering with fielding positions and changing the bowling around.

Although India A won this match, the final will not be a cakewalk. India C skipper Anju Jain is not one to take defeat lying down. Tomorrow is a different day, a different match and who knows, it might throw up a different result.