HAVERFORD, Pa. - On a cold and overcast Sunday late last May, Haverford Cricket overwhelmed Temple University in a crushing nine-wicket victory to win the 2018 Philadelphia Intercollegiate Championship and improve their record against the visitors to 3-0 for the academic year. Stunning bowling spells from current junior Ethan Flicker (4/11) and graduated captain Raghav Bali propelled Haverford to victory in remarkable fashion. This season's first match against Temple last Saturday would end very differently.
Haverford, still in the rebuilding phase after the loss of all-rounder Bali and three other graduated seniors, fell to Temple by four wickets in a T20 clash at Cope Field.
Temple won the toss and sent Haverford into bat. Co-captain Nathaniel Rolfe and Jack Morgan would once again open the batting for Haverford, knowing full well that a stronger start compared to the previous weekend's fixture would be needed. Unfortunately, for the Fords, it was much the same story: a top-order collapse, followed by a brief middle-order revival that would ultimately be insufficient.
Facing the quickest pace the Fords had seen this semester, Rolfe started quickly hitting 12 runs off 12 balls, but he was ultimately bowled by a strong delivery. Morgan was dismissed for one off the second delivery he faced. Flicker moved up the order for this weekend's fixture but was unlucky to be unable to recreate his strong innings from the match against Columbia, when he was caught behind and fell for just four. There were a few bright sparks for the Fords around the middle of their innings. Another strong showing with the bat from Emile Givental was the highlight. Givental hit two fours and one six as he raced out to 28 runs off 24 balls before being caught at point.
After Givental's departure, Haverford couldn't find much success. Notable efforts came from Malcolm Thompson, who added nine before being bowled and from Charlie Lynn who added 8 (not-out) in the final couple overs as Haverford finished their twenty overs 86-8. Taking the field with a low total to defend, a bowling performance similar to the previous weekend's would not do as the side sought to clamp down on unnecessary extras and mistakes in the field. Keeping the run rate down would be essential if the Fords were to win.
Gulesh Shukla and Daniel Van Beveren took the new ball for Haverford and were soon rewarded for their efforts as momentum appeared to swing in the Ford's favor. A quick good-length ball from Shulka removed one of Temple's openers in the third over and a spectacular backwards diving catch from Kaito Nakatani, fielding at cover, off a Van Beveren delivery finished off his replacement in the next over.
Co-captains Andrew Cornell and Rolfe would take up the bowling after eight overs. Both started slowly, but the third wicket eventually fell from a delivery from Cornell hit directly to Rolfe. The Temple opener was finally removed by Rolfe with a quick full-length delivery as the batsmen attempted to advance down the wicket shortly before the half-way point of the innings.
After the break, Haverford found success having removed Temple's strongest batsmen. Temple needed 20 runs to win off 10 overs with six wickets remaining. Haverford knew that any chance of victory would require them to take wickets quickly. Shukla was brought in again for the 14th over and the captains set an aggressive field. The decision to give Shukla the ball once again paid dividends as he took two wicket in three balls, to give the Fords a real opportunity to win the match. Shukla was also hard done in the same over to lose an appeal for leg-before-wicket as the decision went the way of the batting side.
Van Beveren reentered the match knowing the just a few more quick wickets would mean a miraculous comeback victory for the Fords. With Temple needing just a few more runs to win the match, it was a nervous finish for both teams. Ultimately it would be Haverford who were to reflect on the narrow defeat.
One of the most talented sides in recent memory and still in the process of rebuilding, the Fords will look to return to winning ways this weekend. Last sunday's scheduled fixture against Penn Alumni XI was postponed due to wet conditions. The match has been moved to this Sunday. However, first up for the Fords is a visit by New Jersey club side Amwell Valley, who last fall defeated Haverford by a narrow victory of just two runs. Both matches begin at 12 p.m. at Cope Field.