HAVERFORD, Pa. - Haverford fell to the Malgudi Cricket Club in a sharply contested match this Sunday at Cope Field. Playing in humid conditions with significant cloud cover overhead, Haverford lost the toss and was put in to bowl first. Haverford's new ball pair of Nathaniel Rolfe and Raghav Bali capitalized on the overhead conditions from the start of the match.
With the ball swinging, Bali found instant success, inducing a mistimed shot from the batsman that flew to Rolfe at mid-off. Rolfe bowled his first over with menace, combining raw pace with short pitched bowling that threatened to attack the helmet of the batsman with every ball. With the batsmen unsettled, poor decision making ensued when Bali returned with his unerring accuracy. When a full pitched ball was returned to Rolfe at Mid-Off, the batsmen ventured on a run which cost them dearly; Rolfe made a bullet throw of the ball that flew past the non-striker's end to decimate the off-stump at the striker's end with the runner yards short of the crease. The incredible display of fielding reduced Malgudi to only 20 runs for the loss of two wickets.
However, despite this early success, Malgudi's top order calmed the boat and steadily built up runs as the ball got softer. As Malgudi continued to accumulate runs, a bowling change in Andrew Cornell finally brought about a fall of a wicket. Cornell sent in a sharply spinning delivery that was struck against the spin of the ball towards midwicket. Kaito Nakatani charged in from the sweeper position and slid on the grass to complete an incredible diving catch. Haverford's bowlers capitalized on the wicket with a succession of dots, but Malgudi's batsmen found the boundary as well to combat this pressure. With Malgudi's batsmen well-set going into the death stage of the innings, Haverford's bowlers found ways to claw back the flow of runs.
Sophomore Ethan Flicker produced a beautiful, looping Yorker that clipped the inside edge of the batsman's bat and smashed into the leg stump of the batsman. Jake Kutchins adeptly changed the line and length of his balls in his death overs, and gave away just 19 runs in his four-over spell. The highlight of this was a fast full length delivery which swung sharply into the batsman, beating the inside edge of the bat to fly through the bat-pad gap and take out the off stump. Flicker pulled out one final wicket in the penultimate over, luring the batsman to pull the ball hard to Cornell at forward square leg. Despite the bowling performance, Malgudi was still able to post an intimidating 131 runs at the end of their 20 overs. Haverford's batting got off to a flying start thanks to Opening Batsman Rolfe. Rolfe and his batting partner Kutchins saw off some of the fastest and most accurate bowling seen by Haverford's batsmen to date.
While Kutchins was undone by a lightning quick Yorker, Rolfe made full use of the new ball as he powered his way to a 28-ball for 28-runs inning. After safely blocking at a few balls, Rolfe swung his arms, cutting hard off the back foot to crash the ball past point and straight to the boundary for four. Rolfe heavily favored the off-side in this innings and took full advantage of short bowling by Malgudi's bowlers.
A powerful cover drive drilled the ball through the extra cover region for four, while a gorgeous uppercut sent the ball sailing over the heads of onlooking fielders for a one-bounce four through the covers. Not about to be undone, Rolfe's batting partner,Cornell, showed his own prodigious skillset. His boundary came of a brutal, back-foot straight drive that sent the ball straight over the bowler's head and to the boundary. Rolfe found his final boundary through backward point off a ferociously struck late cut. Rolfe was unlucky to be out shortly after, with the bowler somehow leaping across the pitch to complete a difficult caught-and-bowled opportunity to remove Rolfe.
Cornell was now joined by Flicker in a sprint to get to the finish line. With time of the essence, Flicker took little time to begin playing his shot. The fourth ball he faced was violently slog-sweeped across square leg for 6. Cornell fell to a brilliant catch at short midwicket to bring freshmen Malcolm Thompson to the crease. Thompson played his shots knowing that time was scarce, finding the boundary almost immediately when he clubbed the ball with a hook through fine leg. A flowing pull shot from Flicker saw the ball rocket to the mid-on boundary for a four shortly thereafter.
However, an unnervingly accurate throw from Malgudi's cover fielder saw Flicker run out while attempting to complete a quick single. Senior Isfar Munir came to the crease to share a short, rapid partnership with Thompson. Both ran hard accumulated runs at a quick clip before Munir was caught by the wicket-keeper after a rapid-fire innings of eight-balls for eight runs. Thompson engaged in a final dash with the lower order to reach the finish line, but was caught out in the deep while slogging his way to the finish line. Haverford ultimately fell a mere 20-runs short of the target.
Haverford Cricket returns to action later this week with a game against the British Officer's Cricket Club on Saturday before taking on rival Temple on Sunday. Both matches are at Cope Field and scheduled to begin at noon.