HAVERFORD, Pa. – On April 7, the Haverford XI went up against a strong side from the University of Pennsylvania in the first match of the 2019 Intercollegiate Cup. This match proved to be one of the most exciting victories for Haverford in recent history.
After losing the toss, Haverford was sent to the field, pitting opening bowlers first-year Gulesh Shukla and junior Daniel Van Beveren against the Penn batsmen. Penn built a stable innings, steadily exchanging strikes in the first overs until Shukla broke this partnership in the third over when his ball found a thick edge and carried to the safe hands of junior Matthew Leibold at gulley.
Penn was nonetheless in a good position with 20-1 after Shukla's third-over wicket. The next breakthrough came with the introduction of senior captain, Andrew Cornell, who trapped the second opener LBW after the Penn batsman missed his stroke.
While Haverford gained confidence after removing both opening batsmen, Penn responded in kind, exchanging strike effectively with the Number four batsman taking the initiative to increase the run rate through an onslaught of boundaries. Penn were comfortably building a formidable total while Haverford struggled to take wicket. Penn would find themselves at 73-2 at the break.
The story was no different after the break, with Haverford struggling to take wickets while the third wicket partnership grew. The tides would change, however, in the 17th over when sophomore Kaito Nakatani would induce a poorly timed drive straight to Shukla in the covers as Penn were 121-3. This wicket caused a collapse in the Penn batting order. Van Beveren was reintroduced in the next over, facilitating the collapse through an impressive two wickets in just three balls, the first caught by Shukla and the next caught by sophomore Malcolm Thompson at long off, who did superbly to take such a high catch. At this point it was only a matter of time: Shukla took his second wicket in the 19th over, trapping a batsmen LBW while Van Beveren would go on to take two in two, the first being sharply stumped by senior wicketkeeper, Charlie Lynn, and the second being clean bowled. Van Beveren finished with 4-21 in 3.3 overs, the best bowling figures by Haverford this season.
Senior captain Nathaniel Rolfe and sophomore Jack Morgan would take strike first for Haverford, facing an almost insurmountable total of 148 runs. While Rolfe sought to continue his prime form from the previous day, Haverford appeared in early trouble when Morgan was caught at short mid-off on just the third ball of the innings. Junior Ethan Flicker came in at three, hoping to provide stability after a quick wicket. Flicker was off the mark immediately, pulling the ball for a couple runs. However, it would again be Rolfe who shouldered most of the runs. In a superb batting masterclass, Rolfe struck 77 runs off just 57 balls, including seven fours and a six. Flicker served a supporting role, protecting his wicket and exchanging strike to allow Rolfe to send the ball to all corners of the pitch.
Flicker would be the second to fall in the sixth over, scoring 16 off 22, a well-tempered innings providing much needed stability. Cornell would come in at four to help increase the run rate. On his second ball, Cornell flicked the ball to the legside boundary for four and went on to score 20 off 16 before falling in the ninth over. Rolfe continued to build the chase in a true captain's innings, sharing the strike with hard hitting sophomore Emile Givental. The nervous chase appeared to be almost secured when Haverford found themselves at 138-3 after 18 overs.
Rolfe's couple of runs off the first ball of the 19th over brought Haverford to need just nine runs off 11 balls. The chase, however, suddenly became much less secure—the next ball missed Rolfe's bat and carried to the stumps, as did the third ball of the over, dismissing Thompson for naught. Finishing the over with three dot balls, the Fords were now in trouble, requiring nine runs off the last over. The final heroics would belong to Givental. His hard-hitting style and quick running between the wickets saw the Fords score three consecutive twos at the start of the over. The fords needed just a single run to win after extras. The fourth ball of the over would find the edge of Givental's bat, but carry past the keeper. The Fords won with just two remaining balls to spare.
Haverford will now face British Officer's Cricket Club on Saturday April 13, before competing in their last Intercollegiate fixture on April 14 against Temple.