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Bowling Triumphs as Cricket Bests Royal Marines

Daniel Van Beveren
Daniel Van Beveren
HAVERFORD, Pa. - On Saturday, April 20, Haverford Cricket won in perhaps their toughest match of the season, ending in a true nail-biter. Their opponents were the Royal Marines Cricket Club, a team of active marines from England. 

Rain the previous night and that morning left the field and pitch damp creating difficult conditions for both teams.  The Fords won the toss and elected to field first, hoping the field may dry as the day progressed. 

Again, first-year Gulesh Shukla and junior Daniel Van Beveren opened the bowling. Shukla capitalized on the damp conditions in the first over, dismissing the opening batsman for a duck when a short-pitched ball found a thick outer edge and carried to sophomore Malcolm Thompson at deep gulley. Shukla would strike again in his next over, beating the batsmen with pure pace to trap the batsman LBW. 

Van Beveren did well to restrict the runs and the pair left the Royal Marines with only 19 runs after the first five overs. Senior captains Andrew Cornell and Nathaniel Rolfe would be next to take the ball. The pairing continued restricting runs, allowing just 22 runs in the next five overs with Rolfe picking up a wicket.

Royal Marines came off the break scoring just 41 runs from their first 10 overs, and the pressure of the low run-rate showed.  A series of risky calls saw the visitors lose four wickets in three overs to run outs and would end their innings on 83 all-out. Haverford sent Rolfe out to open with Junior Ethan Flicker. The Fords knew a chase of 84 was nothing to scoff at—the field and pitch conditions had not improved and the Fords would be battling the most disciplined attack they had faced all season.

Rolfe appeared in good form, as he was off the mark immediately with a boundary. Flicker played a supporting role as Rolfe, who looked to be continuing his incredible form of late, took charge of sustaining the run-rate.  However, Haverford would soon start to worry as Rolfe missed a good length delivery and was bowled for 11 runs in in the fourth over.

Cornell would join Flicker in the middle as both sought to provide stability and prevent a collapse. The pair played conservatively, scoring just 18 off the next six overs and heading into the break with 34 runs. 

Needing 50 runs off the next 10 overs, Flicker and Cornell started to accelerate after the break.  Cornell played a series of on-and off-drives to shoulder the bulk of the acceleration while Flicker protected his wicket and rotated strike. Flicker would be dismissed in the 14th over for 11 runs, but the pair totaled 18 runs, needing just 32 off the next six overs. The Fords again appeared in trouble when Cornell was dismissed in the following over off an excellent diving catch. Cornell top-scored for the team with 22 runs. 

Sophomore Emile Givental took responsibility for maintaining the run rate, scoring a quickfire eight off nine balls.  The trouble continued for the Fords however, when Givental and Thompson were both dismissed in the 17th over. The hosts were now 66-5, needing 18 runs off the last 3 overs. The game was in the hands of Sophomore Kaito Nakatani and Shukla.T he required run-rate increased as the pair settled in—it appeared the Fords might not cross the finish line, requiring 14 runs off the last two overs.  The breakthrough came on first ball of the next over.  Shukla launched the ball over midwicket, nearly hitting the president's house for six runs.

The pair then effectively exchanged the strike, needing just four runs off the last over. Pretty soon, the Fords required just two runs in two balls with Nakatani facing—the game wasn't over yet.  The tension was palpable as the bowler began his run up. Shukla sprinted down the wicket before the ball was struck. Nakatani executed an ill-advised attempt to advance down the wicket, but got away with it, tapping the ball to covers and sprinting to complete the run. Just one run was required, but Shukla, now on strike, had just the one ball to score it in. The ball was pitched short. Shukla raised his bat and glanced it past gulley, allowing the pair to safely take a single and win the match.

While Shukla's rapid 12 off seven balls provided the final push, the Fords owed this win to their bowling performance. Often struggling to limit extras, this was the hosts tightest bowling performance this season—they gave up just 14 extras and, through controlled line and length, didn't allow any the visitors to score any easy runs. 

Haverford hopes to continue this control as they travel to Merion Cricket Club next Sunday, April 28 (1 p.m.)