Kai Dragons have long been one of our most competitive opponents, so it was with some apprehension that the Dodgers assembled at a cloudy Chiswick for our 2023 showdown.
Taking to the field, the Dodgers openers Charlie and John bowled tidily, but the Dragons were in combative mood and managed to find the distant boundaries with some regularity before losing their first wicket to an excellent catch by Charlie at long off. Neil Bishop, guesting for us from Marauders, came on with Aamir at first change, and the mix of pace and guile tied down the batters so that the run rate dropped away dramatically. Matt and Dave H took up the reins and bagged a wicket apiece, while good fielding (including a sharp run out by Simon at mid-wicket) helped our cause. Yet the Dragons had pushed the score on to a total of 122 for 6 off their 20 overs and the sky was already beginning to darken, so there was no sense in which this was a low score for us to chase down.
The Dragons have traditionally brought a strong bowling attack with them, as we have found to our cost over many years, and this season was no exception. Dodgers openers Dave H and Mike Mc defended stoutly against some cracking deliveries and ran well between the wickets, but it was almost impossible to get the ball away. Harry and Simon replaced them and continued in like vein, with several 2s and 3s but no boundaries, so that we were 35 for 2 after 10 overs, well behind the curve. Jatinder claimed our first boundary in the 12th over, and was unlucky to be run out soon after by a direct throw as Dodgers forced the pace. Yet it was the solid hitting of Neil that swung the game back in our favour, as he notched up a convincing 26* off just 17 balls before leaving the field to Ralph and Charlie. We still needed 36 to win off the last three overs and there was almost no light left to speak of, but both batters managed to see and strike the ball regardless, running swiftly between the wickets despite Ralph's ankle injury. In spite of these heroics, the game still seemed beyond our grasp until Charlie advanced down the wicket to crack a spectacular six over the bowler's head, raising hopes once more. He was run out in the last over as we made a desperate push for the last runs, to be replaced by Matt at the non-striker's end for the last ball. With two needed for the win, Ralph struck it sweetly past the close fielders and ran three for the fun of it. Dodgers had won a spectacular victory in the gloaming - our first win against the Dragons since 2014.
Man of the Match votes: Neil 6, Charlie 3, Ralph 2
The victorious Dodgers
Harry and Simon strike a pose