Barn Elms, Putney won toss. Sunny, 22C
Putney 212 (Lloyd 56, Wishart 47, Punton 46*, Sorger 212, Kota 4-31)
Gents 213-5 (Kota 126*, S. Patel 28*, Chatharaju 20)
Won by 5 wickets
A chanceless stand of 111 in 112 balls by Kota and S. Patel saw Gents to an unlikely victory. When Gents were 102-5 including three ducks, Putney were favourites but Kota’s eighth ton, with 19 fours and a five, with wise support from his veteran partner, did the needful. Earlier Kota had taken four wickets as the genial hosts proceeded to a well-balanced 212 against committed bowling and fielding. Scoring a hundred and taking four wickets is a rarity, only Mark Ashton and Upender Sanga having previously such a double.
Chatharaju achieved prodigious inswing, Putney’s umpire being overheard that he repeatedly wanted to call wide as the ball pitched on sixth stump, only for it to hoop in and deny him the pleasure. He castled the openers, 18-2. Lloyd and Wishart are batsmen of high quality and showed it with a stand of 102 before Reddy found Lloyd’s edge in the 21st over. Putney were on top but there now followed some brave counterpunching as Gents took seven wickets for 45. Kota winkled out four of them, all bowled, while there were scalps too for Dubey and Dutta. Putney were 165-9 but a last-wicket stand is not unusual. Punton played the shots while captain Taylor nurdled, sensible, wise cricket. Dutta got Taylor with five balls unused.
Since his return to Test cricket opener Ben Duckett has faced 692 balls and played no shot to a mere eight. This is also the way captain Sudireddy does things, but when he scooped the first ball of the innings to mid-off the glory of Gents’ 2023 opening stands had continued: 3, 0, 7, 13, 3, 6 and now 0. Kota took ten off the next five balls. With Chatharaju batting brightly it was 35-3 off three. Chatharaju was bowled on 61 and Puli fell third ball, 67-3.
All the while Kota was playing with confidence. Dubey hit three fours before falling to a low caught and bowled, intoning the admonitory mantra ‘Play ground shots, play ground shots’ on his return. But he had maintained the momentum of the innings. Soni then fell caught behind, 102-5 off 16.3, 111 needed at 4.7 off 23.3.
Kota and Patel were superb. For an hour they interspersed ones and twos with the odd boundary. Putney always had the hope that one wicket might bring two. Taylor set good fields and his fielders supported the bowlers to the hilt, but the breakthrough would not come. Kota then took twenty off Mohammed’s final over to take Gents to the brink of victory, and secured it with a two and a four in the next over. No praise can be too high for the two batting heroes but everybody had contributed.
A word on the composition of the team. Ilhan Ismail and Dayakar Reddy were on debut; Chirag Soni had only played once before. Well done the team secretary and the committee in honouring the fixture. Putney were good hosts and scored highly by inviting Gents back to their excellent Barnes Common clubhouse.