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By Peter Della Penna
Opening batsman Cameron Mirza scored a sparkling 118 not out to
propel USA to 319 for 5 before Argentina was bowled out for 34 in a
285-run win for USA at the satellite field outside Central Broward
Regional Park on Monday at the ICC Americas U-19 Division One in
Lauderhill, Fla. Mirza was named Man of the Match after setting a USA
U-19 record for an individual score while the 285-run margin is USA’s
biggest victory by runs in international competition at the U-19 level.
“I was a little bit nervous when Abhi won the toss and coach told us
to pad up,” said Mirza. “I was a little bit nervous padding up and
cracked a few nervous jokes and walking out I was nervous, but once I
middled the first ball, I felt good.”
USA won the toss and elected to bat first on a warm sunny morning and
got off to a ferocious start behind Mirza and vice-captain Steven
Taylor. The left-handed Taylor punished Argentina’s attack to bring up
his half-century in only 31 balls, which wasn’t even close to being the
fastest half-century of the day. Taylor was especially strong on his
legs, flicking loose deliveries over square leg and pulling over
midwicket with ease. He finally perished on the first ball after drinks
when he chipped a full ball from leg-spinner Lautaro Musiani straight to
Agustin Husain at short midwicket to make it 116 for 1 in the 19th
over. Taylor wound up with 83 in 59 balls that included eight boundaries
and four sixes.
Musiani struck again with
back-to-back return catches to get rid of captain Abhijit Joshi for 7
and Fahad Babar for a duck in the 23rd over to make it 142 for 3. Joshi
sent a leading edge to Musiani who took a great one-handed catch over
his head while Babar drove loosely to give a much simpler catch back to
the leg-spinner five balls later.
Image (right) - Cameron Mirza pulls early in his innings. [Courtesy Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket]
Mirza then started to assert himself. After starting cautiously with
Taylor and Joshi, he accelerated the scoring in his partnership with
Trevor Singh, putting on 73 for the fourth wicket. Mirza reached his 50
in 75 balls with six boundaries. He was particularly effective against
the spinners, using his feet to pick off runs and loft a series of
boundaries over mid on.
Singh fell when he missed a pull to off-spinner Ezequiel Gonzalez
Sutil to be bowled for 28, making it 215 for 4 in the 39th. Jodhbir
Singh was caught on the midwicket rope off Sutil for 2 two overs later
to make it 219 for 5.
Ahmad joined Mirza as the opener from New Jersey got closer to his
century. He picked off ones and twos through the 80s and 90s before
reaching his century with a single behind point. Mirza celebrated with a
leap and a roar to score the second ever century by a USA U-19 player.
He reached his 100 in 125 balls with 10 boundaries.
Image (left) - Mirza leaps for joy and waves his bat after
completing the single to reach his 100. [Courtesy Peter Della
“It was just relief,” said Mirza about his feelings upon reaching
100. “It was one of the best feelings I’ve had playing cricket.”
At the other end, Ahmed struggled to get the ball away initially,
scoring six singles in his first 10 balls, but went on to produce a
dramatic onslaught to reach a half-century in only 24 balls. He hit four
fours and four sixes in a span of nine balls to demoralize Argentina’s
attack. Ahmad finished 62 not out in 32 balls.
But it was Mirza’s day and he finished the innings with a two off the
last ball to end on 118 off 137 balls with 12 boundaries. The previous
record score for a USA U-19 player was 111 not out by Amer Afzaluddin in a loss to Argentina at the 2001 ICC Americas U-19 tournament in Bermuda. Mirza and Ahmad
put on 100 runs unbeaten for the sixth wicket in 8.5 overs as USA
finished 319 for 5 in 50 overs.
“I think he fits the bill,” said
USA U-19 coach Robin Singh about his decision to slot Mirza in as an
opener despite the many options available. “He’s somebody who takes his
time and in 50 overs you have a lot of time to play and he fits that
role pretty well.”
Image (right) - Salman Ahmad and Cameron Mirza walk off after an
unbeaten 100-run sixth wicket stand to end the USA innings. [Courtesy
Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket]
USA took the field and only two balls into the chase had Argentina in
the hole when Hammad Shahid clean bowled Pedro Arrighi. Six runs later,
fellow opener Ramiro Escobar drove Shahid to Shayan Abdulghani at short
extra cover to make it 6 for 2. Ahmad then got into the act by taking
the next four wickets reducing Argentina to 11 for 6. He was on a hat
trick at one point and finished with 4 for 10 in six overs.
Mital Patel came on first change and was also on a hat trick in his
first over, taking two in two to make it 27 for 8 in the 13th. Argentina
put up another seven runs before Martin Rost was run out and with
Felipe Nogues unable to bat after injuring himself wicketkeeping in the
first innings, Argentina ended at 34 for 9 in 17.4 overs.
“I think this was probably the weakest team in the tournament so I
think there’s a lot of areas to improve,” said Singh. “Probably we could
have put maybe 75 runs more. We have a pretty good variety. We have a
few good spinners and unfortunately they didn’t get an opportunity to
bowl today, a few good medium pacers as well as some pretty good batters
in the middle so it’s a fairly well-balanced team.”
In the day’s other games, Canada defeated Bahamas by 9 wickets at
Brian Piccolo Park. Akash Shah took a hat trick and finished with six
wickets for Canada as they bowled Bahamas out for 65 in 29.1 overs
before chasing the runs in 17.5 overs. Bermuda won by 4 runs over Cayman
Islands in a game reduced to 41 overs. Cayman Islands put a serious
fight up, bowling out Bermuda for 181 in 29.4 overs and looked set for a
big upset with Sacha DeAlwis at the crease. DeAlwis was bowled for 93
with 15 needed to win in the 39th over and six wickets still left in
hand, but the remaining batsman just couldn’t reach the boundary and
with four needed to tie on the last ball, a leg side delivery was missed
and a run out resulted on an attempted bye.
The USA U-19 team continues their tournament play with a game against
Bahamas on Tuesday at the artificial satellite pitch outside CBRP at 10
a.m. Live coverage on DreamCricket begins at 9:30 a.m.
CORRECTION: This article has been updated to reflect that Mirza was the second player to score a century playing for a USA U-19 team. The first was Amer Afzaluddin, whose record of 111 not out in 2001 was broken by Mirza.