HAVERFORD, Pa. - Haverford College cricket extended its winning streak to four games in a row with a resounding 26-run victory over Temple University this past Sunday. Haverford's batting was anchored by a herculean, unbeaten 69-run effort by senior captain Raghav Bali, a record score by an individual batsman this season. The bowling performance was an all-around effort with key performances by junior Nathaniel Rolfe and sophomores Daniel Van Beveren and Ethan Flicker. This is the second time the Fords have squared up this academic year against Temple, with their record now improving to 2-0 in those contests.
Haverford won the toss and elected to bat first on a beautiful day with few clouds and heady sunshine, ideal conditions for batting. Despite the conditions, Haverford's batsmen found themselves staring down the barrel of the sharpest bowling seen this season. Temple's bowlers bowled a brutal, short-pitched length with unerring accuracy that instantly put Haverford on the backfoot. Rolfe found himself on the front foot to a sharply rising delivery bowled with menace in the very first over. The ball clipped his outside edge and was safely pocketed by the wicketkeeper. Bali, newly arrived at the crease, joined Kutchins in grinding out the new ball. Kutchins was continuously tested by the short ball, while Bali squared off against disciplined line and length bowling. While runs were difficult to come by, Bali took advantage of poor slow bowling, opening his arms to slog-sweep a glorious boundary though midwicket before following up with a muscular pull shot through fine leg for another boundary.
In the same over, Bali scored a third boundary with a clean lofted drive straight over the bowler's head. With Haverford stepping on the accelerator, Temple's bowlers instantly drew themselves back into the contest with Kutchins edging a venomous bouncer to second slip. New batsman junior captain Andrew Cornell showed flashes of fluidity with a full-blooded sweep for four through square leg, but found himself holing out to the square leg fielder after top-edging an on-drive. Senior John Halifax found himself making his batting debut in the pressure laden situation, with Haverford reaching the 10-over mark teetering on a score of 44 for the loss of three wickets.
With Halifax grinding out the bowlers at one end and defending his wicket with an iron straight bat defense, Bali showed off his mastery of batsmanship from the other end. Bali crushed a bouncer with a bruising hook shot that launched the ball into the sky and over the wide midwicket boundary for the first six of the match. A few overs later, Bali elegantly drove a full delivery for a perfectly and monstrously large six over long-on; the ball was struck with such force that it was still rising as it was caught in one of the trees that line Cope Field.
While Bali responded to the increasing pressure with bigger shots, Halifax's gritty stay at the crease when a fuller ball unexpectedly cut away from his bat and ballooned back to the bowler for a simple return catch. With Haverford needing to step on the accelerator, first year Malcolm Thompson responded by playing a powerful agricultural shot that scythed the ball away for four through long. He continued the power hitting, bullying the ball to the long-off boundary next with a savage slog. Thompson fell to a lightning-quick, inswinging Yorker that careened into middle stump. Bali was undeterred and made a final display of hitting ability, with numerous shots for two complemented by a glorious cover drive that shot the ball to the cover boundary. When the innings drew to a close, Haverford stood on a total of 119-runs for the loss of seven wickets. Bali finished unbeaten with a record 69 runs to his name.
Haverford's bowlers opened the fielding effort to thunderous strokes by Temple's batsmen, an issue given the below-par score that Temple managed to restrict Haverford to. Bali maintained a clean, efficient line just outside off-stump that kept the opening batsmen clamped for runs before a straight drive sent one of Bali's straight over the trees for six. Rolfe, sharing the new ball, struggled to find his line as balls were sent wide of the batsmen in his opening over. With the game in a precarious position, Haverford turned to sophomore Van Beveren to find the breakthrough. The change revealed that Temple's batsmen found it impossible to play Van Beveren's slinging, skiddy action. Van Beveren struck with his second ball, with a short-pitched delivery skidding past the batsman's inside edge and uprooting off-stump.
Reeling from the strike, the new batsman was skittish in the face of Van Beveren's accurate line. Van Beveren exploited this by sending in a full ball pitched on leg stump. Caught premeditating his shot, the batsman played all around the delivery and was helpless as the ball shattered leg stump. The double strike placed the game firmly back in the favor of Haverford. Bali capitalized on the pressure with the prodigiously swinging ball. A good length delivery took the new batsman by surprise as he managed only to meekly fend the ball to Van Beveren at midwicket, who completed a tumbling catch to bring the wicket tally to three. Van Beveren bowled the next over and further added to Temple's misery. A full, outswinging delivery was edged by the batsman to first year Emile Givental at point. With this wicket, Temple was reeling.
Four wickets had fallen in the space of two overs, while the run tally had only been brought to 28. Temple's batsmen consolidated and slowed down their run rate as they fought to stabilize the innings. This process was made ever more difficult by a brilliant bowling display from Haverford. Bali closed out his bowling spell having given away only 18 runs while also taking one wicket. Van Beveren's figures were even better. His three wickets came at the cost of only eight runs through the four-over spell. Temple's batsmen were hypnotized by the venomous bowling of Van Beveren. With Bali and Van Beveren having bowled their full allotment, Haverford brought in the slow bowling battery in Flicker and Cornell.
Cornell and Flicker were disciplined, using a very length to stifle the batsmen. For over seven overs, though, Haverford failed to find a wicket as Temple's batsmen brought themselves to a stronger position. At the 13th over, Temple had piled on 62 runs for the loss of four wickets. With seven overs to go, the game hung in the balance. Flicker finally found the breakthrough that swung the pendulum back into Haverford's favor. He induced a lofted straight drive from the batsman using a slow, shorter pitched delivery, but the ball only made it as far as a sliding Jake Kutchins, who completed a superbly difficult catch at long-off.
Sensing an opportunity to bully Temple into submission, Haverford reintroduced a wrathful Rolfe into the attack. His second spell was an absolute masterclass, as this time Rolfe found his line and stuck to it. This brought rewards as Rolfe took two wickets in a row, with a speeding, full-length delivery grazing the outside edge on its way to wicketkeeper Charlie Lynn's glove complemented by a vicious toe-crusher that split the stumps. Temple's batsmen made a mad attempt to reach the finish line, but in their rush a communication failure cost them a wicket as a sharp throw from Cornell in the covers to wicketkeeper Lynn affected a run-out. Flicker reused his old strategy in the same over, with a slower delivery suckering a batsman into attempting to a hit a six only to reach again at long on for another catch. With this, Temple's innings floundered as they found themselves 26-runs short of the finish line.
Haverford head coach Kamran Khan commented, "This was an outstanding, all-round effort where everyone on the team contributed to the victory."
With this win, Haverford jumps into the top spot of the Philadelphia Intercollegiate Cricket League and brings the overall spring season record to 4-0 with a four-game winning streak to open the campaign.