The ODK Story

April 18, 2012

After the debacle of the 2007 Cricket World Cup, I had all but given up cricket. But, later in the year, having arrived at Penn State, I started to miss the game so much that I looked for any and every opportunity to get bat on ball. There were times in class when I thought of asking the professor to bowl a few balls to me.

Having spoken to a few seniors, I learned that there was an eclectic mix of students and faculty members who played at the Orchard Park on weekends. It was great fun to field on the lush outfield and be able to whack the ball without having to worry about it crashing into someone’s window pane. Games were played at leisure, with wise-cracks and quips all part and parcel of the weekly outing in the park. And then the unexpected happened. India won the inaugural T20 World Cup. A sort of cricketing fervor gripped the Desis at Penn State. Every nook and corner had a Desi practicing a Yuvi-to-Broad six or a Shreesanth-to-Hayden ball with palms slapping the ground in jubilation after having the stumps uprooted.

In 2008, when the Penn State Cricket Club (PSCC) decided to organize a Fall tournament, we immediately registered our team. However, contrary to our own over-the-roof expectations, we failed to make it even to the quarter-finals. In 2009, The Orchard Dark Knights (ODK) name was coined but the result remained the same. We ended a miserly 9th rank out of 10 teams. In 2010, our team finally got a grip on the way things were supposed to be. We made it to the Semi-Finals for the first time and gave the eventual winners a tough fight in that game. By 2011, a lot of the original ODK members had retired (graduated) and there was very little chance that we would have enough players to form a team once again. But again, India winning the World Cup in April 2011, instilled a new vigor amongst all of us. So a new team with a new captain was formed; but we stuck to the original name – The Orchard Dark Knights. Starting off strongly in the tournament, our fitness began to tell by the time we reached the Semi-Finals. In a hard fought match, which went down to the last ball, we lost to the eventual champions – The White Tigers.

Come Spring 2012. The ODKs played their opening game against The Falcons. The team seemed determined to make a good start to the tournament and went on to win the game comfortably. The next game for the ODKs was against Bomb Squad. Having been set a stiff target of 95 runs to chase in 15 overs, the ODK were helped by their opponents being understaffed in the fielding department and ran away to a comfortable victory. With 2 wins out of 2, it was time for the ODKs to face their nemesis from the previous year – The White Tigers. Put into bat, the White Tigers started off slowly, but as their confidence grew, so did their run rate. In a high scoring, breath-taking encounter, the White Tigers held their nerves to beat the ODKs by 4 runs. In their final league match, the ODKs then took on the Jager Bombers on a pitch that seemed to have come straight from Bridgetown, Barbados. Uneven bounce and some good bowling kept the ODKs down to a respectable target on a smallish ground. However the ODKs held their catches and made some interesting bowling changes to win the game and ensure a position in the Semi-Finals.

The Semi-Finals was a repeat of the previous year – ODK vs White Tigers. The ODKs started off briskly scoring at more than 8 runs per over during the Power Play. But after having lost a couple of quick wickets, the runs suddenly dried up. Some lofty shots in the last few overs allowed the ODKs to set the White Tigers a target of 120 to get in 15 overs. But the White Tigers were not ones to give up without a fight. They kept chipping away at the target getting an occasional boundary or six on the way. The match again went down to the last over but this time around the ODKs bowled to a plan and denied the White Tigers a victory. The ODKs had finally made it to their first Final.

In the Final, their opponents were the Blue and White Warriors who had yet to lose a match in the tournament and yet to lose more than 2 wickets in an innings. Their openers got the team off to a blazing start hitting fours and sixes at will. The ODKs looked very flat in the field and the toll of having played 5 back-to-back games seemed to be telling on them. At the end of 10 overs, the Blue and White Warriors seemed well set to go past 180 of their 20 overs. But some spirited bowling towards the end overs pulled the run rate down and the ODKs were set a target of 163. The ODKs kept the asking rate within reach throughout their innings and went on to chase the target well within 20 overs.

It has been a fabulous weekend of entertaining cricket. Kudos to the Organizers for having a tab on all the match proceedings and keeping the captains updated about their respective schedules. Here is hoping for many more entertaining tournaments to come.


One comment

  1. good one Sid..

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