Usman Rafiq's unbeaten half-century clinched a three-wicket win in the second 40-over trial match at the USA national team trials for WCL Division Three squad selection in Houston.
By Peter Della Penna in Houston
Offspinning allrounder Usman Rafiq scored an unbeaten 55 off 52 balls after entering at 89 for 6 chasing a target of 179 to help Team Taylor secure a last-ball three-wicket win over Team Standford on day two of the USA squad trials for WCL Division Three selection at Smart Choice Moosa Stadium in Pearland, Texas. Rafiq teamed with Timil Patel for an unbroken 76-run stand for the eighth wicket to see their side home as Timil struck a boundary off Noshtush Kenjige with scores level on the final ball to clinch victory.
The prospects of a successful chase looked after Kenjige and Camilus Alexander wrecked Team Standford’s middle order to reduce them from 85 for 3 to 89 for 6 in the span of four overs just past the midway point of the chase. Dot ball pressure early in Kenjige’s spell resulted in a runout for the second day in a row as Nisarg Patel’s direct hit from midwicket sent Ravi Timbawala for 23 off 43 balls in the 23rd over. In Kenjige’s next over, Shiva Vashishat tried to paddle scoop the spinner but a top edge that popped up behind the wicketkeeper was taken by Nicholas Standford circling around from slip for 17 off 38 balls.
Alexander, who earlier in the innings had Roy Silva caught off a leading edge at point for 11, completed his outstanding spell with another wicket in his final over, getting Akeem Dodson to pull a short ball to Adil Bhatti at deep midwicket for 1 to make it 89 for 6. Alexander finished with 2 for 24 in eight overs after scoring 26 off 38 balls in the first innings.
Rafiq saw off the next three overs from Kenjige and despite the loss of Japen Patel a short time later, caught at long on off Saqib Saleem for 6, remained unflustered. He struck two boundaries off former USA captain Muhammad Ghous in the 33rd over to help shift momentum, then struck a six into the sightscreen during a pivotal 14-run over off Saleem in the 36th that cut the target from 43 off five overs to 29 off 24 balls. Kenjige was brought back for his final two overs with 24 required off 18, but a no ball called for a fielding restriction violation hurt Team Standford in the field, allowing another two runs to ease the pressure further.
Timil struck a boundary off Ghous as part of an eight-run 39th and eight more were needed off the last over. Two twos and three singles came off the first five balls as Timil wound up on strike with one to win. With the field brought up, he drove a full ball back over Kenjige to the boundary to clinch victory. Kenjige had figures of 1 for 18 in his initial six-over spell but ended with 1 for 37 in eight. Timil’s unbeaten 29 off 29 balls came after he bowled brilliantly in the first innings to finish with 2 for 21 in eight overs.
The first innings total of 178 for 7 by Team Standford was full of starts but no major contributions. Randall Wilson and Nisarg both looked sturdy opening the batting but lost their concentration as rain began to fall just after the end of the Powerplay and both fell shortly before a 10-minute delay for a brief shower. Wilson struck four crisp boundaries, mainly through the off side, during his 28 off 26 balls before toe edging a drive off Naseer Jamali to be caught behind. Nisarg fell in the next over to Prashanth Nair on the last ball before players were taken off, playing around a straight ball to be lbw for 16 off 35 balls.
Khaleel looked solid during his 29 off 47 before skipping down the track to the first ball he saw from Timil and lofted the legspinner to long off. Alexander’s batting contribution came in the middle overs and was followed by 36 off 46 by Saleem before his innings ended with a questionable lbw decision won by left-arm seamer Jamali bowling over the stumps to the right-hander. Jamali then had Bhatti caught in the 39th over to end with innings best figures of 3 for 43 in a spell that helped keep the chase to a manageable target.
In the second trial match match, scheduled for 30 overs, Team Babar scored 164 for 5 batting first and Team Jessy reached 63 for 2 in 16 overs of the chase before play was called off for bad light. Fahad Babar scored 67 off 64 balls before retiring out for the second day in a row. Charan Singh scored a run a ball 21 before skying a slog to cover off Ferhan Ali while Silva was out for 19 off 28 balls in the final over, bowled after missing a slog against Ferhan. Arjun Thyagarajan was the other batsman to cross double figures, making 17 off 24 opening the batting before he drove Keon Lake’s offspin to extra cover.
Gauranshu Sharma was the first wicket to fall in the chase, run out for 7 trying to come back for a tight two but was beaten by a sharp relay from Charan Singh to Abhimanyu Rajp. Rajp has Ali Samad caught at slip for 33 a few overs later for the only other wicket. Team Jessy’s chase was made more difficult with the fading light and Mrunal Patel ended not out on 13 off 32 balls while Javein Thomas finished 1 not out off 10 before coaches and umpires ended play.
Two T20 matches are planned for the final day of the camp on Sunday in Texas.