Ahmad didn't seem bothered by the variable bounce in the wicket and top scored with 71 off 68 balls, including seven fours and three sixes in a chanceless knock. He punished Bermuda through the off side, with six of his seven fours sprayed between cover and backward point.
By Peter Della Penna in King City, Ontario (on Twitter)
DreamCricket.com's coverage on site from Canada at the 2013 ICC Americas U-19 Division One Tournament is sponsored by New Inning Foundation.
USA U-19 wicketkeeper batsman Shakeel Ahmad produced a sterling innings to kick off USA’s campaign in Canada, but a heavy thunderstorm played spoiler on the day for USA as their match with Bermuda U-19 was called off after a deluge swamped the ground and halted play with Bermuda 8 for 2 chasing USA’s 194 on the first day of the 2013 ICC Americas U-19 Division One Tournament at Maple Leaf Cricket Club in King City, Ontario.
The start of the match was delayed by an hour due to a wet outfield from overnight rain in the greater Toronto area. After winning the toss, Bermuda sent USA in to bat on a track with plenty of grass on it offering variable bounce.
Ahmad didn’t seem bothered though and top scored with 71 off 68 balls, including seven fours and three sixes in a chanceless knock. He punished Bermuda through the off side, with six of his seven fours sprayed between cover and backward point.
Image (right) - USA U-19's Shakeel Ahmad feasted on the short ball against Bermuda U-19. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
The California native opened with USA U-19 captain Steven Taylor and the pair added 30 for the first wicket before Taylor was out for 16, tamely driving medium pacer Kamau Leverock to Shaquille Jones at mid off. Omar Afridi entered at three and only lasted four balls before he fell trying to flick the medium pace of Kamel Easton through midwicket but missed and was given out LBW for 2 to make it 41 for 2 in the eighth.
Patrick Palmer joined Ahmad and the pair patiently churned out 65 runs for the third wicket across 14.5 overs. Palmer took his time to get going, getting off the mark on his 16th ball with a nervy edge to third man. A few minutes later with the score on 77 for 2, he was dropped on 2 at cover when he spooned a knee high full toss from seamer Onais Bascome toward Bermuda U-19 captain Joshua Gilbert in the covers but the chance was spilled by Gilbert reaching across his body at chest height.
Even though Palmer began slowly, he displayed a resolute defense on a difficult batting wicket and gave Ahmad solid support over the course of their partnership. Ahmad was particularly harsh to Leverock and hit him out of the attack by stroking him over mid off for six and four off consecutive deliveries in the 13th. Ahmad brought up his 50 off 50 balls in sedate fashion with a single off left-arm orthodox spinner Delray Rawlins before tearing into Rawlins for two sixes, one over midwicket and another straight down the ground. Rawlins got his revenge though when Ahmad edged an attempted drive to Leverock at slip to make it 106 for 3 at the start of the 23rd.
After removing Ahmad, Rawlins set about knocking over the rest of USA’s order and wound up bagging five scalps. His second victim was Trevis Ross, caught on the deep midwicket boundary by Easton for 10 to make it 123 for 4 in the 25th. Next to go was Krish Goel when an attempted pull shot against Bascome went awry. A short of a length delivery kept low and USA’s vice-captain was bowled for 1 to make it 135 for 5.
Image (left) - Left-arm spinner Delray Rawlins gets lifted off the ground by his vice-captain Kamau Leverock after taking 5 for 51 vs. USA U-19. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
Palmer’s defiant innings finally ended when he top edged an attempted sweep shot off Rawlins and was caught at backward square leg by Christian Gibbons for 40 as USA’s middle order headed for a tailspin. Rawlins put himself on a hat trick after removing Rishi Patel first ball when Patel played across a full delivery and was bowled to make it 149 for 7 after 31. Randall Wilson was next to go for 5, chipping a straightforward return chance to Rawlins to complete the five wicket-haul for the 15-year-old as USA sunk further to 154 for 8.
At that point it appeared that USA would be bowled out for a subpar total, but Arsh Buch and Roshan Varadarajan came together for a vital 39-run ninth wicket stand spanning 11.3 overs. The pair grinded out singles and twos before Buch slammed a six over cow corner off the first ball of the 40th over by Kwiese James to lift USA’s spirits.
Despite being one of Bermuda’s best senior team bowlers, Gilbert curiously chose not to bring himself on until the 42nd over. He struck in his second over, when he enticed Varadarajan into a slog that was caught at deep midwicket by Rawlins. Buch was last man out four balls later to Leverock, mistiming a lofted drive to mid off where Rawlins took his third catch of the day as USA was bowled out for 194 in 44.4 overs.
Image (right) - Roshan Varadarajan (left) and Arsh Buch (right) teamed up for USA to stage a lower order fightback. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
Because the innings ended early with more than 30 minutes remaining before the scheduled lunch break, only a 10-minute interval was taken between innings and Bermuda was required to bat before lunch. USA seized the opportunity to build pressure during the period before lunch, striking in the third over when Christian Burgess was caught behind by Ahmad driving at a good length ball from the left arm swing bowling of Buch. Tre Manders then perished to Patel’s seam bowling when he creamed a half volley straight to Afridi at short cover, who effortlessly took a brilliant catch at chest height three balls into the fourth over.
Lunch was taken at the fall of the second Bermuda wicket, but the players were never able to get back onto the field as a light drizzle began just before the players were ready to resume play. The rain stopped after about 10 minutes, but the covers remained on with threatening clouds on the horizon and before long a heavy downpour commenced for the next hour. After ceasing briefly, the rains came back even harder and the match was eventually called off with no result.
The teams will now start the match from scratch on Sunday, July 14 which is the scheduled reserve day for the tournament. Tuesday is an off for USA while Canada U-19 has their first match when they take on Bermuda U-19 at Maple Leaf CC.
Image (above) - Strong winds knocked around tents and pitch covers ahead of a heavy storm that caused play to be called off for the day shortly after the start of Bermuda's innings. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]