CLNJ Colts clinched the U-15 honors and Midwest CC won the U-19 championship in a dramatic finish in the inaugural edition of AAU Junior Olympics held in Detroit, Michigan.
By Thomas Franz
CLNJ U-15 wins AAU Junior Olympics U-15 cricket championship
New Jersey opening batsman Advait Manur never left the crease on Sunday as he led his team to winning the inaugural U-15 AAU Cricket Championship. Manur’s match-high 21 runs helped CLNJ Colts chase Michigan Cricket Association USA’s 48 runs in 8.5 overs on Sunday afternoon at Bloomer Park.
“Advait is also the vice-Captain and wicket-keeper, we’ve seen him grow and improve with each season,” New Jersey coach Earl Daley said. “Each game we try to impress upon them that each game they should take away something so they’re always learning. Advait is on the up and I expect a lot from him.”
Pic (Right): CLNJ Colts won the U-15 gold
CLNJ Colts Squad: Harish Easwaraiah, Akil Ponnambalam, Shekhar Kripalani, Amol Lotia, Rohan Arvindh, Vivek Narayan, Varun Narayan, Richard Ramrattan, Raymond Ramrattan, Chirag Ballani, Humza Babar, Gauranshu Sharma, Anuttam Ganesh, Advait Manur.
The hosts faced a difficult challenge in taking on a much more experienced team from New Jersey and posted a total of 48 for nine batting first. The Ramrattan brothers, Richard and Raymond, contributed to a combined six wickets for New Jersey in their fielding efforts. Amol Lotia bowled consecutive Michigan batsmen in the 15th over. For Michigan, Soham Deeraj led Michigan with eight runs. Shreyas Bolar added seven runs and also induced Narayan into hitting a soft glance to cover, where Mustafa Malik made the catch to send the New Jersey opener off.
New Jersey’s superior bowling attack proved to be too much for the hosts to overcome. “It takes a lot of practice and discipline, and the kids work hard so they are always improving,” Daley said. “We are always trying to eliminate wides as much as possible. Today we even had somebody go out and test the wind direction, so we look at everything to determine which ends to use a particular bowler.”
[In their first game on Saturday, CLNJ Colts posted 170 for 2 thanks to contributions from Gauranshu Sharma (41 not out) and Vivek Narayan (39). Shekhar Kripalani's 54 not out, a score that included three sixes, claimed a spot in AAU's record books as the first U-15 half-century. Michigan scored 60 in their chase.]
Midwest CC are U-19 winners
Needing four runs to win with two balls remaining, Monit Khandwala delivered a championship clinching boundary past long-off to give Midwest Cricket Conference the inaugural AAU U-19 Cricket Championship.
Khandwala’s dramatics were set up earlier in the final over when Lingkon Foyaz-Ahmed delivered a no ball for three runs and then surrendered two runs off of the free hit. Suddenly, the 13 runs that were required at the start final over became attainable. After Rahul Kosgi helped Khandwala in the crease by rotating the strike back around to him, Khandwala delivered the final four runs to reach Midwest’s target of 96 runs.
“When I went in I thought that reaching the target was doable,” Khandwala said. “We were getting runs because we were fresh and energized so we could run hard. The last delivery was a good-length ball, but it was hittable and I was able to hit it hard.”
Michigan Cricket Association USA captain Ani Mayasandra explained that his original intention was to bring opening bowler Zamil Rahman back to bowl the final over, but the 13-run lead made him change his mind to put in Foyaz-Ahmed instead.
“This is the first tournament I’ve seen Zamil(Rahman) bowl, and when he came out with the new ball in the first match he did an excellent job so I decided to give him the opening spot this time. I thought I’d leave him one over and then put him out the last over, and I thought it would be a wrap,” Mayasandra said. “With the last over being 13 runs needed to score I thought it would be easy if I brought in a fast bowler and finished it off, but obviously that wasn’t the case.”
The dramatic finish capped off a back-and-forth struggle between two teams that not only battled each other, but also cold and rainy conditions that resembled weather typical of mid-October rather than late-July. Due to passing thundershowers, the match was shortened to 18 overs a side prior to the start of the contest and then later delayed by nearly an hour five overs into Midwest’s chase.
Michigan’s batsmen took advantage of a brief break in the weather to race out to 60 runs for a loss of three wickets as opening batsman Gordon Makin led Michigan with 23 runs. Iftikar Hussain and Rahman each added 16 runs and Foyaz-Ahmed contributed 14 runs while setting the target at 96. Although Michigan finished its overs, Midwest restricted them to less than 100 thanks to a solid fielding effort.
Tarang Patel began his bid for man-of-the-match honors with a running grab at the long-off boundary to end Foyaz-Ahemd’s innings in the fourth over. His catch came at a crucial time as Foyaz-Ahmed had just connected on five consecutive doubles prior to being caught. Paarth Joshi sustained the fielding momentum from there with three catches before contributing 17 runs as Midwest’s opening batsmen.
Rain halted Midwest’s chase at the end of the fifth over with their score standing at 21, which was identical to Michigan’s at the same point. After the delay, Tarang Patel scored a team-high 20 runs to contribute to a 28-run partnership with Salman Khan, who contributed 11 runs of his own.
Man-of-the-Match Tarang Patel(left) stands with Monit Khandwala(center) and Salman Khan(right).
Patel’s dismissal in the 16th over started a string of three wickets falling in six deliveries. When Murtaza Hashwani was run out on the fourth ball of the 17th over with 16 runs still required, things appeared bleak for Midwest, but Khandwala provided just enough heroics to give Midwest the first AAU Jr. Olympics Cricket title.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment. We got this team together a month ago and we practiced and had a lot of things going,” Midwest coach Akhil Sridher said.
“The talent pool is immense in the Midwest and in our league. A lot of guys didn’t get an opportunity to play. We brought 15 guys, so the talent is definitely there. It just has to be channeled in the right direction and this accomplishment is a step in the right direction.”