South Florida, York University (Toronto), York College (NY) and University of Maryland-Baltimore County emerged as the four semifinalists who will battle for the tournament title inside the stadium at Central Broward Regional Park.
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By Peter Della Penna
Twelve matches finished off pool play on day four of the American College Cricket Spring Break Championship in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. When the dust cleared, South Florida, York University (Toronto), York College (NY) and University of Maryland-Baltimore County emerged as the four semifinalists who will battle for the tournament title inside the stadium at Central Broward Regional Park.
On the satellite artificial wicket fields outside the stadium at Central Broward Regional Park on Saturday, York College got things started with a thrilling one-run victory over Boston University to clinch the first semifinal spot, topping the table in the Northeast Conference. York posted 137 for 6 in a solid all-round team effort before they held BU to 136 for 9 in 20 overs. BU needed three off the final ball for victory but could only manage a single.
UPenn knocked Rutgers out of contention for the semis, beating the Scarlet Knights by four wickets. Rutgers won the toss and batted first posting 154 in their 20 overs. UPenn chased it down with an over to spare.
St. Cloud State won by 10 wickets in a romp over Ohio State. Ohio State was bowled out for 107 in 19 overs and the total was never going to be enough against the opening combination of Saminda Siriwardena and Pavan Kumar Chakravarthy. Siriwardena played second fiddle today as the lefty Chakravarthy hit five fours in his first five scoring shots on his way to 59 not out.
In the second two Northeast Conference matches of the day, UPenn posted 152 for 8 against BU and then bowled out the Terriers for 132. Rutgers ended a disappointing tournament on a good note with a victory over NYU-Poly by 52 runs. Winning the toss and batting first, Rutgers posted 160 for 4 after former USA U-15 player Anvit Patel opened the innings with 37 which was followed by 57 from Nalin Chopra. NYU-Poly was bowled out for 108.
At Brian Piccolo Park, York University continued their domination of the Northwest Conference by becoming the only team in the tournament to sweep their pool. In their first game Saturday against College of Wooster, York posted a phenomenal 208 for 7 in only 16 overs as Saad Zafar scored 65 while Raza Rehman pitched in with 49. Wooster struggled to compete against the stronger clubs in their pool all week and Saturday was no different as they were bowled out for 66.
In York’s second game against Minnesota, the Golden Gophers posted 127 for 8 in 20 overs before York chased it down for the loss of five wickets to book their spot in the semis. Khushro Wadia continued his glorious form in the tournament with 75 not out for York and he will be a strong contender for tournament MVP if York University goes on to the final.
In the two matches on the turf wicket at Brian Piccolo Park, University of Miami (Fla.) put in a spirited fight against University of the West Indies, but the Caribbean squad came out on top by four wickets in the end. Miami clawed their way to 83 for 7 in 20. In reply, UWI lost a wicket in the first over, but managed to keep moving along despite the fall of wickets until they passed the target in 9.3 overs.
In the last match at Brian Piccolo Park’s turf wicket, UMBC kept George Washington winless for the tournament. GWU posted 108 runs batting first but made UMBC work hard for the runs as they crossed the line with only two wickets to spare in the final over.
In the matches played in the stadium at Central Broward Regional Park, Montgomery bested Auburn by six wickets. Auburn was bowled out for 113 as Montgomery passed the target with ease.
In a match to decide who would advance to the semis from the Southern Conference, University of South Florida stunned Thunderbird School of Global Management to win by 41 runs. USF only managed to post 124 for 6 in 20 overs, but Saisitaram Ramesh continued an excellent tournament with the ball taking 4 for 8 to spark a Thunderbird collapse as they were all out for 83 in 17.2 overs.
USF finished 2-1 in the group, including a crucial washout from their scheduled match on Wednesday against University of the West Indies and therefore split points from that game. UWI went undefeated in the tournament but was not eligible for the semifinals. Thunderbird and USC both finished 2-2. Had USF played UWI and presumably lost, USC would have gone through to the semis.
In the final match of the day, one last spot was up for grabs in the Mid-Atlantic Conference. Montgomery and George Mason both squared off with 2-1 records while UMBC was finished at 3-1 and all three teams had a chance to go through to the semis. George Mason grinded their way to 140 for 7 in 20 overs as the Patriots squad was aided by an abysmal performance in the field by Montgomery.
“We probably gave them about 20-30 runs just by dropping catches,” said Sadiq Naseer, Montgomery College vice captain. “We should really not have dropped as many catches, but everyone has a bad day and that’s what we had.”
George Mason them came out fighting hard in the field and turned in a brilliant all-round fielding performance to heap pressure on the defending tournament champions. Things got heated after the ninth wicket fell when players and supporters in the traveling party with Montgomery stormed the field as the sledging got out of hand in the middle.
In the last few overs, Montgomery’s strategy changed from going for the win to blocking out deliveries to survive the final overs. The target was getting further out of reach and qualification for the semis seemed slim. However, by not being bowled out, Montgomery would deny George Mason the bonus point they needed to overtake UMBC on the conference table. After a tense final over, the final ball was kept out by Montgomery College. UMBC’s squad, which had made their way into the stadium from Brian Piccolo Park, erupted in celebration knowing they had qualified for final day on Sunday.
“That was not spirit of the game,” said Hashim Khan, George Mason captain. “If you know that you weren’t making it by the 17th over, all your tailenders are coming in, I think we should be having a good shot at the championship because we were a very tough team in this championship. We should be in the finals but again we lost to Auburn in a pool game which is not exactly what we wanted. But we’re still happy that we came and represented George Mason University.”
The first semifinal will take place between York University and South Florida at 10 am from Central Broward Regional Park. The second semifinal will follow at 1 pm between York College and UMBC. The championship match is scheduled for 5 pm, but according to American College Cricket President Lloyd Jodah, may be moved up to 4:30 based on night time rain in the forecast for Fort Lauderdale. Dreamcricket.com will provide live ball-by-ball coverage of the championship match.
[The day's matches will also be broadcast beginning 9AM on Sunday via a live webstream available at www.americancollegecricket.com]