"I'd say in the morning and before lunch it was a really tough wicket to bat on," Dutta said. "I could see even when I was bowling the ball wasn't coming onto the bat properly. But in the afternoon the sun came out and the wicket dried up and it just became a batting paradise."
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.
For the second match in a row, a spinner claimed a five-wicket haul against USA as Canada U-19’s Nikhil Dutta wiped out half of USA’s batting lineup before leading Canada’s chase with 55 not out to defeat USA U-19 by five wickets on Thursday at the 2013 ICC Americas U-19 Division One Tournament in King City, Ontario. Dutta was named Man of the Match for his performance which placed the host country in the driver’s seat to claim a spot at the 2014 ICC U-19 World Cup.
“The wicket was a bit damp so the ball was turning a lot which really helps my kind of bowling,” Dutta said after the win. “I really like when the ball turns so I can turn it both ways and my bowlers really backed me up from the other end. Our left-arm spinner Farhan [Malik] and our skipper Nitish [Kumar] really kept it tight.”
Thursday’s match was the first game in a reconfigured tournament schedule after Monday’s heavy rain in the greater Toronto area caused flooding at Maple Leaf Cricket Club. The event had originally been a double round-robin format but with three days of matches abandoned, the tournament was cut in half to a single round-robin affair. After Thursday’s scheduled start of play was delayed by an hour due to a wet outfield USA won the toss and elected to bat first, making one change to their lineup from their first match against Bermuda U-19 as Waqas Shah came in for Randall Wilson.
USA appeared to have made the right call early on as Shakeel Ahmad and Steven Taylor raced to 57 in the first 10 overs of play. Things started to unravel quickly though with the arrival of left-arm spinner Farhan Malik who teamed up with Dutta’s off-spin at the opposite end to stifle USA. Ahmad was the first to go in the 11th, given out on what appeared to be a marginal LBW decision when he was hit high on the back foot defending on the crease for 13. Taylor earlier survived a chance on 24 when he was put down at slip off the bowling of seamer Abrash Khan but couldn’t make the most of his second life, playing across the line to Dutta and given out immediately for 30 to make it 58 for 2 in the 12th.
With both openers gone, USA’s scoring rate came down sharply with runs hard to come by on the slow turning track. USA scored just 21 runs between overs 11 and 20 and only 16 runs from the 21st to the 30th. Omar Afridi was Dutta’s second victim, out driving to Canada U-19 captain Nitish Kumar at cover for 4 to make it 65 for 3. Trevis Ross walked through an attempted flick against Kumar’s off-spin and was stumped for 11 to make it 82 for 4 in the 22nd.
Image (right) - Nikhil Dutta's off-spin caused plenty of heartache for USA as he took 5 for 21. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
Patrick Palmer survived two missed chances on 8 and 15 as he fought hard to stay in with Krish Goel. Palmer finally succumbed to Dutta for 22 when an attempted drive through the leg side resulted in a leading edge to Malik at point to make it 116 for 5 in the 35th over.
Shah entered at number seven and attempted to resuscitate the scoring rate during the power play, with aggressive running between the wickets that caused USA’s bench to make some noise. However, he was out on the last ball before the second drinks break was taken, lacing a short ball from Khan straight to Armaan Kapoor at backward point for 12 to make it 132 for 6 after 40.
Khan struck again with the short ball after drinks, inducing a top edged pull from Goel that settled over the pitch for Khan to take a return catch with USA’s vice-captain walking off for 22 to make it 139 for 7. Roshan Varadarajan tried slogging Dutta over deep midwicket but failed to clear the man on the boundary and was out for 3 to make it 149 for 8.
Rishi Patel was the ninth man to go when he ran himself out attempting a sharp single into the covers. Talha Sheikh fielded and his underhand throw into the non-striker’s stumps from 10 yards out sent Patel on his way for a second duck on the week. Arsh Buch and Ryan Persaud were left with 28 balls to bat out, but could only manage a single over together at the crease before Buch lofted a drive toward deep midwicket for 16 to give Dutta match figures of 5 for 21 as USA was bowled out for 158 in 46.2 overs. Beyond Taylor’s 30 at the top of the innings, USA’s next best score was extras with 25.
Just as Bermuda had on Monday, Canada’s innings started after a 10-minute break due to their quick over rate in the field resulting in the first innings finishing well before the scheduled lunch break. USA bowled four overs of seam at the start of their innings in the field before captain Taylor brought himself on to bowl off-spin in the fifth and from then on USA bowled spin for the rest of the innings in an attempt to replicate the problems Canada caused them in the first innings. Taylor struck first for USA at the start of the ninth when Sudeepta Aurka left alone a delivery the turned in to clip the top of the stumps. Aurka was left stunned and forced to walk off for 24 with the score 34 for 1 at which point lunch was taken.
When play resumed, Kumar joined Stephan Joseph at the crease and the pair added 38 for the second wicket before Persaud struck. After being hit for six over long on by Kumar two balls earlier, the leg-spinner continued to flight the ball up full and was rewarded when Kumar edged to Taylor at slip for 18 to make it 72 for 2. Persaud followed that up two overs later by teasing Joseph to come down the pitch only for the opener to be beaten in flight and stumped by Ahmad for 29 to make it 78 for 3.
Kapoor joined Dutta at the crease and the nerves started showing in Canada’s camp when Kapoor was runout without adding to the total. Dutta flicked Varadarajan’s off-spin to the leg side followed by hesitation from both batsmen. Taylor swooped in from square leg and with both batsmen halfway down the wicket Taylor alertly ran to the striker’s end and took off the bails as Kapoor sacrificed himself, an unselfish move which ultimately paid off for Canada in the end.
Dutta refused to be rattled after the mixup and showed superb defense in the face of Persaud’s probing spell. While Persaud kept on challenging Canada during his solid 10 overs, USA could not find anyone able to tie up the opposite end to build pressure on Dutta and Sheikh.
Image (left) - USA U-19 leg-spinner Ryan Persaud finished with 2 for 30 in 10 overs, but there was little support from the rest of the bowling unit. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
Six spinners were used in all, including a brief spell of left-arm orthodox spin by Buch after he had opened the second innings bowling seam, but Dutta and Sheikh were able to milk runs with relative ease. Taylor put himself in under a helmet at forward short leg beginning in the 33rd over with the score at 120 for 4 but USA’s spinners struggled for accuracy with numerous short deliveries putting Taylor in the firing line of pull shots.
The partnership between Dutta and Sheikh produced 68 runs across 19.2 overs when Ross finally induced a false drive by Sheikh to mid off for 22, but by this point only 13 were required for victory with more than 12 overs remaining. Dutta bashed a six down the ground off Ross in the 40th to put Canada within one shot of victory, then finished off the match and brought up his half-century all at once with another straight six off Taylor as Canada reached the target with 58 balls to spare. Persaud finished with 2 for 30 in 10 overs for USA.
“I’d say in the morning and before lunch it was a really tough wicket to bat on,” Dutta said. “I could see even when I was bowling the ball wasn’t coming onto the bat properly. But in the afternoon the sun came out and the wicket dried up and it just became a batting paradise.”
Canada now has an off day on Friday while USA returns to Maple Leaf CC to take on Bermuda. In order for USA to have any chance at finishing in first place and claiming the region’s berth in the 2014 ICC U-19 World Cup, they must first register a victory over Bermuda. Bermuda then must defeat Canada on Saturday to produce a three-way tie in which case net run rate would decide the tournament champion. In that scenario, USA must not only beat Bermuda on Friday, but do so by a sizable margin while Bermuda would need to beat Canada by a narrow margin on Saturday to give USA the best chance of finishing above the other two teams on the tiebreak. Canada currently enjoys a +0.807 net run rate advantage over USA.