The Köln Kings played their ninth game of the season against the Blackcaps Düsseldorf RL team on the 9th of August. The Kings were in for a tricky game since it was the first time playing at the bumpy and uneven Gelsenkirchen ground. The boundaries were also extremely small on the sides, indicating a high-scoring game was on the cards. Dhruv’s tossing practice at home paid off as he won yet another toss and chose to bat first. The Kings got off to a disastrous start, losing both Tejas and Dhruv early. Dhruv was especially unlucky, with an incredible diving catch on the cover boundary ending his innings. Ameya followed soon after, knicking one to the keeper. In came Satya, who seemed to be in great touch, smashing the Blackcaps’ bowlers for boundaries and sixes over mid-wicket with great ease. Such was the aggression of Satya that Irfan had to take the anchoring role, something that he is not too familiar with. However, runs were hard to come by due to a combination of good bowling and a very bouncy and seaming wicket. Irfan finally lost his patience and paid the price for it, leaving the Kings faltering at 42 for 4. This was a perfect situation for collapse-recovery-specialist Sandheep, who did not disappoint. He built a partnership with Satya, nudging ones and twos while Satya continued his aggressive batting. However, Satya fell shortly after, guiding a late cut straight into the hands of the keeper. Big-hitter Prateek then walked in with the score at 57 for 5. He took a little bit of time, playing cautiously, before he cut loose, smashing off-spinner Suthan over mid-wicket for two huge sixes. The runs started flowing, with Prateek showing clearly that he is more than just a big-hitter, respecting the good balls while punishing the bad ones. Sandheep at the other end was steady, pushing singles and giving the strike to Prateek. They batted together until the 16th over, getting the Kings up to 134 and well out of the danger zone. Prateek continued his assault on the bowlers in the last few overs and the Kings ended at an excellent score of 186 in their 20 overs. It was a fine display from Prateek, scoring 82 not out in just 38 deliveries.
The Kings were encouraged by the depth of their batting and were intent on putting on a good show with the ball. Veteran speedster Appu Murali got the team off to a dream start, grabbing two wickets in his first over with some beautiful out-swingers. Prateek supported Appu well, bowling good areas and giving nothing away. Appu then picked up another two wickets in his next over, with dream figures of 4 wickets in 2 overs, both maidens. The game was effectively done by that point but the Blackcaps Düsseldorf RL captain Gaurav was determined to save his team from humiliation, taking the attack to both Appu and Prateek. He hit Prateek for a couple of sixes over mid-wicket, initiating a change in the bowling. Sandheep stepped up with his left-arm spin and bowled cautiously, the short boundaries definitely playing on his mind. Ameya bowled well from the other end, not giving any runs away. It was a game of cat-and-mouse between the bowlers and Gaurav, who was intent on slogging them over the short mid-wicket boundary. The runs were coming at a steady pace even though the Kings’ bowlers didn’t give much away. However, Tejas stepped in with his off-spinners and picked two wickets in his first over including the main man Gaurav, which killed the game for the blackcaps. The Kings cleaned up efficiently, getting the Blackcaps all out for 98. It was yet another excellent bowling performance from the Kings while some issues with the batting still require sorting out, but they will take great encouragement from the depth and versatility in their batting ranks.
Köln Kings Squad : Irfan Ahmed, Satya Srinivas(Wk), Dhruv Patel(C), Grinesh Sanghavi, Appu Muraleedharan, Tejas Harish, Sandheep Pulya Ravishankar, Rameez Deshmukh, Ameya Deshpande, Prateek Dabholkar, Dwarak
Man of the Match : Prateek Dabholkar