HAVERFORD, Pa. - Haverford Cricket battled in tough conditions this weekend in the season opener at Merion Cricket Club, losing by 55 runs against an experienced Merion side.
Haverford was sent into the field first on a beautiful day for cricket. The day started with promise as Senior captain David White struck in his first over, sending in a good-length ball which was struck straight to sophomore Andrew Cornell at Mid-On. Junior captain Raghav Bali shared the new ball with White. Following the opening wicket, the duo played a tight and restrictive opening spell of two overs each.
With pressure mounting on the Merion batsmen, change bowlers were introduced in Andrew Cornell and sophomore Nathaniel Rolfe, playing his first game after recovering from back surgery in the prior season. Both maintained tight lines and lengths to create further pressure until Rolfe took his maiden career wicket, shattering the stumps with a vicious Yorker.
After the fall of the second wicket, the Merion batsman dug into the crease and slowly ground out overs. In a bid to break the stand, Freshman Mattias Lundberg was introduced to bowl off-break balls, while junior Isfar Munir came in alongside him with his medium pace.
The tactic was expensive but proved fruitful; in their bid to score rapidly, Lundberg induced a critical error from Merion's Batsman; the ball was skied into the waiting hands of Andrew Cornell, who took a fantastic catch midway to the boundary. David White took his second wicket in this period as well, with a hard-struck ball being caught by a diving Andrew Cornell at midwicket. Wickets came rapidly for Haverford at this point.
Rolfe struck again with another stump-smashing Yorker while Andrew Cornell took two wickets in a row after bowling a batsman and then inducing an outside edge which was smartly taken by Isfar Munir at point. Merion completed their innings with a competitive total of 121.
Haverford's case got off to a precarious start as opening batsman Andrew Cornell was caught out in the first over. Mattias Lundberg came out to bat with Nathaniel Rolfe. The duo led a partnership of nearly 20 runs, with Rolfe playing a pair of beautiful, flowing cover drives which careened the ball to the boundary. With Rolfe scoring at a quick clip, Lundberg played defensively and stabilized the innings. This dynamic came to an end after Rolfe was bowled by a turning ball after scoring 10 runs.
Junior captain Raghav Bali arrived at the crease with trouble on the horizons, an issue compounded after Lundberg found himself dismissed off a brilliant diving catch. Freshman Jake Kutchins arrived at the crease with the difficult task of stabilizing the ship. Kutchins played a fluent 20-ball innings in support of Bali, displaying a gorgeous straight drive and a rock-solid front foot defense.
Raghav played the anchor role of the innings, playing a smart 26-ball stay at the crease that earned 22 runs. Bali began slowly but essentially furled out his full range of shots. A crunching pull through midwicket got him a one-bounce four while a powerful on-drive rocketed the ball to the boundary again.
Bali was dismissed to another brilliant display of fielding by Merion, with a near four instead being caught at the boundary line. Haverford's middle order was unable to adjust to the oddly low bounce of the Merion field; Haverford finished all out for 66 runs.
Haverford travels to Philadelphia Cricket Club next Saturday, April 15 where they will look to regain momentum for the season.