The Napa Valley Cricket Club recently kicked off its 2017 season with a comfortable road win over the Sri Lanka Lions, mastering the low and slow wicket in a very low-scoring game at Arroyo Park in Davis.

New members buoyed the ranks of the NVCC team on the day and all made valuable contributions to the team’s efforts in each inning.

The Safradi brothers, Mustafa and Mujtaba, both bowled good tight lines in their first outing in NVCC colors while Karan Grewal was also economical. With the bat, Tim Marshall played solid, long, but ultimately low-scoring innings to help anchor the chase and get NVCC over the winning line. The Lions’ target of 82 was reached by NVCC in 22.1 overs – out of a maximum 30 – and as NVCC still had some batting firepower to come, the result was never in doubt once Amritpal Bhatal and Jamie Johnson paired up for the ninth wicket.

Having won the toss, the Lions chose to bat but never took advantage of their decision, as a combination of the inconsistent pitch, pinpoint bowling, and sharp fielding meant they built few partnerships and no single player made it to double figures. A strong opening spell from Moe Maqsood and Grewal produced three wickets in the first six overs and that continued as captain of the day Adersh Maqsood, Moe’s brother, brought him and Mustafa Safradi on to try their luck. They each picked up a wicket in their first over, with Safradi’s being the result of Abhijit “Doc” Adhye’s smart catch at first slip. Adhye was in top form in the slips as he made another scintillating catch, this time off Maqsood to dismiss the Lions’ Prassanna.

Excellent ground fielding saw NVCC get two run-outs – one each for Pete Sander and Pete Cameron – as the Lions’ middle order imploded. A stretch of six consecutive overs from Bhatal saw him take four wickets for the loss of only six runs with a double-wicket maiden the highlight and the chance of a 5-for dropped by an energetic Chandanpreet Singh in the field. Napa Valley wrapped up the Lions’ innings for 81 runs off 25.4 overs.

Adersh Maqsood set out his stall by opening the batting with his big hitting brother, who partnered with Adhye for a very solid and respectable 31 for the first wicket. Most of those runs (21) went to Moe Maqsood as he dispatched any loose ball with vigor. His 18-minute stay in the middle saw him rack up two sixes and a couple of hard run twos. After only 4.5 overs, NVCC had 38 percent of the chase in the bank. Moe’s dismissal brought Marshall to the middle and, while he scored off his first ball, he was to adopt a very clever, and defensive, approach that was the bedrock of the NVCC innings. With Adhye dismissed soon after, a procession of NVCC batsmen came and went – Singh 2 runs off 7 balls, Cameron 0 off 6, Pete Carson 1 off 13, Adersh Maqsood 0 off 2, Sander 1 of 3 – while Marshall kept up the other end.

With NVCC on 65 runs and the winning post in sight, Marshall freed his arms but was dismissed. With Johnson seeing the ball well from the other end, Bhatal came to join him and the pair saw NVCC to victory with sensible singles punctuated by only the sixth boundary of the game from Bhatal, a four to deep fine leg.

“It’s a great start to 2017, and our sixth season, to win our first game in such convincing fashion,” said Adersh Maqsood, “especially since the ground here at Arroyo Park has never been good to us, in many years of trying. We haven’t had much practice over the winter, with the loss of access to the facility we used for indoor practice allied with our move away from Calistoga. The Sri Lanka Lions team played well, but the addition of a number of new members and a great showing with the ball from Amrit made all the difference.”

On the topic of moving away from Calistoga, NVCC president Rob Bolch – who took a wicket on the day – added, “After five great years in Calistoga, our time there sadly came to an end over the winter. The new Boys & Girls Club building meant that we could no longer play cricket on the Carnival Lawn at the Napa County Fairgrounds. With that in mind, we’ve been working on a number of options for new playing facilities in Napa and are close to agreement with both the Napa Expo and Napa State Hospital for access to both of these properties. Once we have more details, we’ll let folks know.”

After the match, Adersh Maqsood presented the Clos du Val “Man of the Match” award to the Lions’ Savi for his contribution to the game.

The Napa Valley Cricket Club thanks sponsors Clos du Val, Crown Hill Stone Supply, St. Helena Optometry, Anchor Steam, Caliber Home Loans, Compadres Rio Grille, 19 Crimes Wines, Amcor, John Fearless, Bill Wagner Realtor, Lyve Systems Inc., Mechanics Bank, Napa Gourmet Foods, 3 rock marketing, Azmera Consulting, ZAM Apps.

Napa Valley next visits the Marin Socials on Saturday at Piper Park in Larkspur, starting at 11 a.m. Visit napacricket.com for more information.

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