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The Napa Valley Cricket Club recently played its intrasquad Napa Valley World Series of Cricket at Napa Valley Expo, and hosted Bradshaw and Marin at McGrath Field on the grounds of Napa State Hospital.

Napa Valley played Bradshaw, based just south of Sacramento, with thoughts of making up for two 2016 defeats and was well balanced in all departments in pursuit of the win. Having lost the toss, NVCC was asked to bowl first – a decision that worked well with captain Bernie Peacock’s game plan as the pitch at McGrath Field is still bedding in.

Peacock opened the bowling with Karan Grewal and Mustafa Safdari, and the pair had the opening batsmen for Bradshaw tied down. An early wicket for Safdari, clean bowling Bradshaw’s Balli for a solitary run, was to be a theme in the visitors’ innings. With only three of its batsmen getting into double figures, Bradshaw struggled against NVCC’s varied bowling attack. Peacock used eight bowlers and alternated between pace, medium pace, and spin to keep the Bradshaw batsmen unsettled.

Pick of the NVCC bowlers was Australian Brendan Helme, whose haul of wickets sucked the life out of the Bradshaw middle order. Helme’s figures of four wickets for 20 runs off six overs were assisted by some great fielding at long-on by Pete Carson, who took two great catches. Fellow NVCC spinner Kiranpreet Singh notched up two wickets for only seven runs off five overs, while Safdari took a great caught and bowled near the end of the Bradshaw innings to help wrap them up for a total of 111 of 30.5 of the allotted 35 overs.

In reply, New Zealand batting pair Jeff Keene and Martin Mackenzie opened for NVCC. The left-handed Keene, known for his slow and methodical innings, batted well with the big hitting Mackenzie. Both fell to the bowling of Bradshaw captain Harvi Dhugga in the sixth and eight overs, but not before Mackenzie had pummeled his way to 24 runs, with five fours and some odd singles to set a strong base for the NVCC chase.

A quick-fire 16 runs off 13 balls from Chandanpreet Singh was followed by the game-winning partnership from Grewal (30 off 36) and Kiranpreet Singh (21 off 27), with Grewal showing patience missing in previous innings to hit the final runs, a six, for victory in only the 22nd over.

The annual World Series showcase, between teams based on members’ native countries, was held on the recently laid field at Silverado Green – meaning the outfield surface was world class. A crowd in excess of 250 was treated to a hard-fought match, with almost 370 runs scored.

Napa Mayor Jill Techel officiated the toss with team captains Bernie Peacock of the Rest of the World team and John Leake of the Australia & America squad. Leake called heads, won the toss, and decided to put the World team in to bat.

Leake must have been delighted with his decision as he and fellow opening bowler Tim Irwin each claimed an early wicket, with Adersh Maqsood and Abhijit ‘Doc’ Adhye both dismissed for one run apiece. Sadly, for Leake, and the rest of the A&A team, there wasn’t much to celebrate after that.

Harjit Singh dug in for an impressive innings, falling one run short of a 50 with 49 runs off 41 balls. He was partnered for his time in the middle by Amritpal Bhatal, who finally delivered for Rest of the World team in a World Series match. Bhatal showed the skills he is renowned for with his vast array of shots, but more importantly showed real patience in building his innings – the bedrock of World’s final score. His 61 off 85 balls included five fours and three sixes.

After Harjit’s dismissal, he continued to score freely while partnering Karan Grewal, and sensible swapping of the strike allowed Grewal to play himself in. A score of 220 plus looked possible for the World team but Leake marshalled his limited bowling resources well, and a flurry of late wickets kept World’s score to 198 in its 35 overs. A standout performance in the field from Irwin saw him take four catches in addition to his three wickets.

In reply, A&A got off to a rocky start, losing its first three wickets inside seven overs with only 17 runs on the board. Peacock took the wicket of Phil Bourke, caught by Chandanpreet Singh, in addition to that of Brendan Helme, LBW (leg-before-wicket). Batting at No. 4 for the A&A team, Leake came to the middle with extra pressure to perform, given the relative collapse of the opening three.

Leake, probably the strongest batsman NVCC has ever had, dug in for a long stay at the crease. After a brief partnership of 17 with American Peter Cameron, Irwin joined Leake in the middle and the pair attempted to save the match for A&A. Their partnership of 90 runs for the fifth wicket, with Leake scoring 35 runs off 49, got the team score to 123 in the 26th over.

With 75 runs still needed off the remaining nine overs, Irwin looked to up the run rate but was undone by the bowling of Bhatal and a sharp reflex catch at head height by Adhye, who had been positioned at first-slip by Bhatal for just that reason. After Irwin’s departure, a procession of A&A batsmen came and went in a forlorn attempt to chase down the total. Leigh Ritchie added respectability to the A&A total with a quick-fire 13 off 15, including a towering six to deep mid-wicket. But in the end, they ended up 31 runs short of victory.

The win for the Rest of the World means the overall series is now all square at three wins each.

The large crowd included members of the Napa Valley Expo board, John Dunbar and Jeri Gill, who took some time out from watching their first-ever cricket match to share with those in attendance plans for the future of the Expo site.

Man of the Match awards were presented to Rest of the World’s Bhatal, who had two wickets, 61 runs and one catch, and Australia & America’s Irwin, who had three wickets, 52 runs and four catches.

“It was a great day,” said NVCC vice president Andrew Healy. “Playing the match on the beautiful surface that is the Silverado Green added to the spectacle, and we’re delighted that we had such a large crowd in attendance over the course of the day. The cricket itself was of a high quality with some great batting, bowling, and fielding, so we hope the crowd, many of whom were at their first ever cricket match, enjoyed the event.”

Napa Valley then hosted its North Bay rivals, the Marin Socials, at McGrath Field. The second of this year’s three meetings ended in a nail-biting finish and a historic tie, the first in the six-year history of the NVCC.

Asked to bat first, NVCC opened with Keene and Safdari. Keene shined with the bat and ground out a typical openers innings, ending up with 26 runs off 70 balls. His innings set the tone for the match as runs were in short supply for both teams and every run scored was well and truly earned.

Keene and four other NVCC batsmen made it into double figures, with the slow outfield at McGrath Field meaning boundaries were at a premium. Harjit Singh scored 22 runs off 34 balls while Grewal (17 off 23), Leigh Ritchie (16 off 28), and Peter Sander (22 off 30) all contributed with decent knocks to the total. With extras, 26 in total, NVCC reached 151 in their 40 allotted overs.

Napa Valley’s early success with the ball had Marin reeling as wickets tumbled at regular intervals and there were precious few runs to trouble the scorer. At the drinks break – 20 overs – Marin had scored 40 runs for the loss of five wickets and looked down and out. The initial wickets were spread across the NVCC bowling attack with one each for Grewal, Safdari and off-spinner Carson, and two for Helme. It all changed after the break as Marin batsmen Prasad Dande and Vishnu Chapalamadugu decided that if they were going to go down, they were going to go down swinging. The pair added 63 for the sixth wicket and turned the match on its head.

After Dande fell in the 30th over, Chapalamadugu continued the assault on the NVCC bowlers, eventually falling for 42 off 51 bowled to Grewal with the score at 111. Marin continued apace to chase down the NVCC total and arrived at the final over with 10 runs needed to win.

A cliff hanger of a final over saw Shabeer scamper through for a single run on the second ball of the over. That was followed by two dot balls leaving nine required to win off two balls. A towering six by Vinay Mehra swung the match back in Marin’s favor and two runs off the final ball of the match saw a pulsating climax to the match end in a tie.

Napa Valley hosts the San Francisco Seals this Saturday at the Midway Green at the Napa Valley Expo, starting at 10:30 a.m.

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

Visit napacricket.com for more information.

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