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Cricket Saunters to Nine-wicket Victory over British Officers

Cricket Saunters to Nine-wicket Victory over British Officers

HAVERFORD, Pa. - Haverford Cricket continued their winning ways this Saturday as a high-octane match against the British Officers' Cricket Club resulted in a massive nine-wicket victory for the Fords. With this win, Haverford College extends its win streak to 5-0 and remains unbeaten in Spring season competition. Haverford's victory was belied by a maiden, unbeaten half-century from Sophomore Jake Kutchins and Nathaniel Rolfe's second half-century of the season. The opening duo put on a stand of 123-runs for the first wicket, a record partnership for the Fords. This is Haverford's second win over the British Officers, complimenting the Ford's nine-wicket victory over the same opposition in the Fall season.

The British Officers won the toss and elected to bat first on a bright and sunny day. While the overhead conditions favored batting first, the British Officers failed to read the heavy dew on the outfield, to their detriment as the field played slower than it otherwise would have. The British Officers openers labored for their runs through a testing opening spell by Senior Captain Raghav Bali and Rolfe. Both probed the corridor of uncertainty outside off-stump with unerring accuracy and unrelenting pace. Rolfe favored a shorter line that forced the batsman onto the backfoot while Bali stuck with a good length that left the batsman uncomfortably on neither foot.

With runs tough to come by as the ball failed to roll to the boundary, the British Officer's lost their first wicket attempting to force the scoring rate with a dangerous single off a hard-cut bouncer from Rolfe. The ball, despite being struck with great force, was collected cleanly by Raghav Bali at point, where a simple throw to Junior gloveman Charlie Lynn resulted in the batsman being run-out several feet short of his crease. With the breakthrough made, Haverford turned to the skiddy right-arm action of Daniel Van Beveren and the off-spin of Andrew Cornell to tighten the screws on the batsman. The British Officer's were forced to continue to try difficult singles in the face of the slow-outfield and a disciplined bowling performance by the second change bowlers.

Without any balls being pitched anywhere off-line or length, the British Officers charged after mishitting a floaty delivery from Cornell to midwicket, where first year Emile GIvental made a powerful throw with his rocket arm to Lynn, promptly affecting another run-out. Cornell followed this up in his next over with a quick arm-ball that invited the batsman to drive with power. The batsman did so, but only as far as a perfectly placed Van Beveren at extra cover, where he took an outstanding catch of the ferociously struck ball to remove the batsman. The British Officers began rebuilding their innings from here after suffering near derailment. Realizing that boundaries along the ground would be difficult to hit, they turned to the air, punishing Haverford's bowlers for bowling too short through the middle overs. Sixes were struck to the short cover boundary and to the leg-side through midwicket and long-on.

With the sun drying out some of the dew, the British Officer's found it easier to muscle the ball along the ground to the boundary as well. With the closing overs approaching and the British Officer's potentially putting on a big total, Haverford turned again to the opening bowling partnership. Bali slammed the brakes on the innings and prevented the total from reaching  a behemoth size. The British Officer's again attempted a poorly thought out run to a ball drilled out to Rolfe at long-on. Rolfe made a laser throw to the striker's end where Lynn again collected cleanly and implemented the third run out of the day. With the gas pulled out of the British Officers, they arrived at a final score of an imposing 142 for the loss of four wickets.

With the sun easing the conditions for batting, Openers Kutchins and Rolfe went quietly to work building up the batting innings. In what become a complete domination of the bowlers, both batsmen employed incredible judgement as they played out a beautifully measured chase against a vaunted bowling line-up from the British Officers. Kutchins was particularly fluent, finding the middle of the bat from the get-go. Kutchins played firmly but carefully, guiding the ball through gaps and bisecting fielders to score quick singles and twos. Rolfe was initially more cautious, playing out the bowlers as he found his timing while using his brute strength to fore the ball past fielders for runs. The two innings displayed Rolfe's mastery of the off-side and Kutchins dominance on the leg-side. Rolfe heavily favored forceful cover drives and cut shots while Kutchins preferred the sweep and the on-drive.

With the two batsmen playing excellent foils to each other, the British Officers' bowlers failed to settle into a consistent rhythm, with the correct line to one batsman playing right into the hands of the other one. As the pitch continued to quicken through the day, both batsman found it easier to play their strokes. Rolfe was the first to break the shackles and hit a ball straight through with a monstrous square drive for four. The unsettled bowler from the British Officer's was promptly dispatched by Rolfe through extra cover for another boundary shortly thereafter.

Kutchins continued his steady hand, employing patience and an iron will as he dictated where the ball would go. Squaring off against the slow bowlers from the British Officer's, Kutchins launched a lobbed short ball to the heaven's with a perfectly timed sweep shot to the square leg boundary for four. This was followed up by a thunderous on-drive through long-on for another boundary. The pair marched on to a score of 123 runs before Rolfe finally found himself bowled by a searing Yorker that shattered middle stump. He departed on a score of 52 runs from 62 balls, a second half-century for Rolfe this season. Bali arrived at the crease with under 20 runs left to score to reach the finish line. Bali made short work of the total, hitting a rapid fire 15-runs from eight balls. Bali's cameo was highlighted by a Herculean pull-shot through backwards square leg for a one-bounce four and a straight drive that crashed the ball back past the bowler for four. Kutchins sealed the win with an easy single through cover-point, finishing with over three overs to spare.

With this record breaking win, Haverford Cricket enters the final slate of matches requiring only two wins to remain undefeated in spring games. This would be a remarkable result that has not happened since the 1991 season. Haverford squares off against Temple on Sunday, April 27 and a final game against the University of Pennsylvania on Saturday, May 5. Both games are slated to start at 11 a.m.