addthis_pub = 'dreamcricket';
Philadelphia Terminators crowned the NuWare New Jersey Twenty20 Champions
Mercer County Park, New Jersey (DreamCricket USA)
Pre-match and Toss:
The final of the Nuware NJT20 Championship was going to be a wonderful treat for cricket lovers with the experience of the Challengers matching up against the multi-faceted Terminators. The venue for the final - Mercer County Park - resembled Kent’s Canterbury cricket club with an immaculately manicured outfield and an oak tree inside the boundary line. The weather conditions - cool and windy with a balmy sun further accentuated the atmosphere for this exciting denouement to this wonderful cricketing mela that had captivated cricket lovers in the Tri-state area for the past four weekends.
The Challengers drafted in Melroy Kingston and Cameron Mirza to reinforce their batting strength and the Terminators retained the winning combination from the semi-finals for the match. The Challengers captain, Neil McGarrell won the toss and put the Terminators to put, hoping to leverage the team’s strength to put the Terminators batting under pressure. The Terminators captain, Dawood Ahmed, welcomed the decision claiming that they intended to bat first and grab the initiative.
The Terminators opened with Ali Rizwan and Himanshu Patel and given their erratic fielding in the tournament thus far; the Challengers’ opening gambit depended on how well they were going to be field against the rampaging Terminators attack. After a quiet first over from the ever-dependable Deryck “Macky” McDonald, Rudy Naraine struck the first blow for the Challengers when he accounted for Himanshu Patel - caught in the deep by Melroy Kingston with the score at 11.
Terminators caption Dawood Ahmed receiving the winner's
crystal trophy and check from Neel Mukerji of NuWare
Ali Rizwan, the other opener was the next to go, caught by Stanislaus off McDonald after a frenetic 12 (inclusive of two 4s). The tournament-leading scorer, Amir Siddique followed soon falling cheaply for 6 with the team’s score on 29. When USA international Imran Awan fell off McDonald’s last over caught again by Kingston with the score on 34, McGarrell’s decision to bowl was beginning to look like a stroke of genius. Pakistani first-class player Zaheer Abbasi and captain Dawood Ahmed put their heads down at this stage and calmly rotated the strike with 1s and 2s. McGarrell introduced Santhosh Dani at this stage and Dawood used the opportunity to up the ante with 2 sixes off Dani and the Terminators batting was coming on its own.
It was going to take a special effort to break this partnership which had bloomed to 45 runs and the skipper McGarrell took it upon himself to deliver the much-needed breakthrough when he caught his counterpart Dawood off an acrobatic effort, off his own bowling. Zaheer Abbasi followed his captain for a 20-ball 20, bowled by left arm off-spinner Kumar Nandlal. Junaid Rashid and Amique Khan the two new batsmen ensured that there was no let up in the run-rate scoring 8 runs an over to take the Terminators past 100 before both falling for 17 runs. McGarrell kept the remaining Terminators’ batsmen Badhar Chouhdry and Chaminda Gunaratne quiet to restrict the Terminators to 127 - a competitive total, yet below the Terminators’ potential. McDonald and McGarrell were the most successful bowlers for Challengers with 2 wickets each in their four overs.
Spectators enjoying the food and festivities at the 20-20 finals half-time show at Mercer County park
A score of 127 was not going to be a slam dunk for the Challengers regardless of their batting potential. A lot of their hopes rested on their opening pair, Guyanese international Vishal Nagamootoo and the promising young batsman Cameron Mirza. Captain Dawood Ahmed and Fazeeh Abbasi kept the Challengers batsmen under leash for the first couple of overs.
Cameron delivered the first salvo for the Challengers taking on Dawood Ahmed, square driving him for four and repeating the stroke for another two. However, he had no answer to an absolute turner that landed outside the off stump and uprooted his leg stump.
Melroy Kingston joined Vishal and the two ensured that the asking rate was in check by keeping the scoreboard ticking. Having taken the total to 39, Melroy Kingston fell against the run of play caught by Nabeel Adeel off Chouhdry for 11 off 11 balls. Captain Neil McGarrell joined Vishal at this stage and the two looked comfortable handling the Terminators attack taking ones and twos at will with an occasional boundary.
Badhar Chouhdry, the most successful bowler in the tournament, struck for the Terminators when he tempted the dangerous McGarrell into a cross-batted shot which resulted in a ballooning catch to keeper Dawood Ahmed.
The Challengers were struck another deep blow when in-form batsmen Vishal Nagamootoo was run out for a well-made 23. Derrick Kallicharan the other batsmen involved in the run-out atoned for his running by contemptuously launching Badhar for 2 sixes. Captain Dawood Ahmed introduced Amique Khan at this stage and he immediately repaid his captain’s faith by having Sean Stanislaus caught in the deep by Rashid for 6. To add insult to injury, he also removed danger-man Kallicharan bowled for 13, to leave the Challengers tottering at 77 for 6.
Spectators enjoying the 20-20 finals at Mercer County park
Deryk McDonald and David Forbes both fell at 81 - trying ambitious hits in an attempt to keep up with the steep asking rate. Santhosh Dani was the last recognized batsmen for the Challengers coming in the 16th over with still 46 runs still to get. He tried in vain to launch a counter-attack, but it was a too little too late when the Terminators bowlers clamped down on the Challengers batsmen - squashing any chances of a comeback. Rudy Naraine was the last bastmen out in the final ball - leaving the Philadelphia Terminators well deserved winners by 24 runs.
Ameeq Khan was the most successful bowler for the Terminators with bowling figures of 3-0-14-3 and Zaheer Abbasi was the most economical with 4-0-11-1. Dawood Ahmed, the Terminators captain, was awarded the man-of-the-match for his team-high score of 25. Challengers’ captain, Neil McGarrell was awarded the man of the tournament for his excellent form throughout the tournament and he almost single-handedly willed his team to victory, except the final hurdle.
The Terminators were the well-deserved winners of the tournament displaying consistent form throughout the tournament after the initial loss to the Renegades. Their batting gained strength with each passing game and their intelligent spin bowling attack that suffocated team after team. Their electric fielding completed their tight bowling and served as the perfect ingredient for their team success. The Challengers on the other hand struck form after their first win again the Hurricanes and notched up close victories in their run to the final. But their inconsistent batting finally caught up with them and they had no answers to the Terminators.
The pulsating final brought the curtains on the very exciting NuWare NJ Twenty20 tournament - the first of its kind held in the east coast. The crowd response and all-round generous support of the sponsors presented a glimpse of the enormous potential for the game of cricket in the United States of America. More importantly, the hard-fought games and the plethora of nail-biting finishes reinforced the reason why the T20 format was the most revolutionary change to happen to cricket and tournaments like this would only help further the cause of cricket in the long run. The end of this tournament also signaled the end of the cricket season in the east coast and while the pads and bats may be put away for a while - the cricketing spirit will stay strong - ready to rise stronger in the coming year.