Now, you can get all the USA Cricket updates via Facebook. Also follow us on Twitter via @dreamcricket
[Conroy Reid and Lada Bedi contributed to this report. For earlier report, click here.]
Japen Patel, Atlanta-Georgia Cricket Conference’s (AGCC) two time player-of-the-year, and one of the most dynamic young players in the country, turned in a strong all-round performance – 8 wickets and 184 runs in three games – to lead AGCC to the 2011 SER tournament title in the games played in Orlando this past week-end.
Pic (right): Japen Patel's fine performances with bat and ball earned him the tournament MVP award.
The fine performance earned Japen Patel the MVP and Best Bowler honors for the tournament. The former national under 19, and member of the SER team for the last four years, continued his strong season run from league competition where he has racked up two consecutive undefeated centuries, complimented with two consecutive five wickets haul.
Japen was supported by a very young and talented squad consisting of few former SE national players such as Jibran Gul, Anand Tummala and Hammad Choudry. AGCC played some exciting cricket under the newly appointed captain Jibran Gul to take the title. Middle order batsman Anand Tummala scored three impressive half centuries to accumulate 199 runs.
AGCC completed the tournament with a 2-0-1 record – defeating South Florida (SFCA), then tying defending champions Central Florida in the tournament’s most exciting game, before crushing Florida Southeast (FSCL) by over 100 runs. Georgia Supreme (2-1) lost in their bid for a second hold on the title by falling to the defending champions CFCA, after defeating both FSCL and SFCA. Mid Atlantic did not field a team.
In its first match against SFCA led by Timmy Surajbali, AGCC won the toss and elected to bat first putting 208 on the board on a good batting surface yet with a very sluggish outfield. Japen Patel provided a stable start scoring 38 runs and Anand Tumala high scored with 81* to stabilize the innings. In reply, SFCA scored 159 all out in 34.3 overs with Steven Taylor scoring a hard earned 53. The pick of the bowlers was the smart and talented left arm spinner Nimir Desai getting 5 wickets for 34 runs in his allotted 10 overs and Japen Patel with 2 wickets.
For AGCC, its encounter with CFCA was a nail-biter. The CFCA captain Christopher Chung won the toss and chose to bat as his side finished with 253 all out. The top scorer was Bhim George with 95*, the recipient of the Best Batsman award for the tournament. Japen Patel bowled an excellent first spell and ended with 3 wickets while former SE National player Hammad Choudry took 3 in 7.1 over to wrap up the innings.
Pic (Right): AGCC captain Jibran Gul
AGCC started their chase with Japen Patel scoring 78 well supported by Anand Tumala 52, Jibran Gul 27 and Nimir Desai 30. The match had many twist and turns. In the end, AGCC needed 3 runs to win and ended up with a tie. It was an amazing game of cricket and both teams showed their sportsmanship.
AGCC's third match was against the strong FSCL side with former USA players such as Nasir Javed and Muazzam Imtiaz. On the South field on Sunday, AGGC won the toss and opted to bat. Keyur Patel (12) and Jibran Gul (4) were removed early, before Japen (68) and Tummala (66) shared an 81-run third wicket partnership to lay the foundation for a formidable score. Sunju Patel (39) and Suhail Sangoi, 33 not out added the finishing surge to propel the score to 239 for 5 off the allotted 50 overs.
With the ball, AGCC used a confident and aggressive strategy as Jibran Gul opened with a spinner who struck in the very first over and followed up with a second wicket soon after . The choke-hold tightened with every over owing to aggressive field placement and consistent bowling. The middle order provided some resistance with the help of Muazzam Imtiaz who seemed to have settled well and scoring at will until his crucial dismissal by in swinging delivery by the captain Jibran Gul.
From that point forward AGCC were in complete control and destroyed FSCL in 26.5 overs for a tournament-low score of 105 all out. The top bowler for AGCC was Japen Patel with figures of 7-0-29-3. He received ample support from Grover (2 for 11) and Jaideep Desai (2 for 39). The FSCL batsmen showed poor judgement of the moving ball as AGCC keeper Nitin Sanam had a dream day behind the stumps grabbing 7 catches, some through spectacular effort. Overall, it was just an unbelievable team performance on the field by AGCC.
Meanwhile, the center field was the venue of the highly anticipated match-up between the last two title holders, CFCA and GSCL. At stake was the tournament title, where a win for the GSCL would give them their second hold. Central Florida won the toss and took first strike. Even though the opening batsmen fell cheaply, and the score was soon 20 for 3 off just four overs, GSCL failed to make any further inroads as the number four batsman, Bhim George, the tournament’s Best Batsman, chalked up the only century (114) of the tournament. George, when on 53, snicked one into the keeper’s gloves but stood his ground while the close-in fieldsmen and bowler celebrated in the middle of the pitch. The umpire though was unmoved, and celebration quickly turned to dismay and a short lived disruption.
Ed Lewis (47) and Chris Chung (42) chipped in with significant scores to take the total to 260 off the allotted 50 overs. Pick of the GSCL bowlers were Jowayne Powell (4 for 50) and Evroy Dyer (3 for 54), as both finished in a three way tie for most wickets in the tournament. McFarlane failed to pick-up a wicket but had the mean figures of 10-3-23-0.
GSCL’s reply was stymied by some accurate bowling from the Central Florida’s pacemen, and the opening batsmen failed to negotiate the deliveries that pitched on off stump and moved away. Runs were nowhere to be had, and the first 10 overs yielded just twenty-five. After Powell drove one hard to mid-off, and Tulloch prodded inside the line of an off-break, the score reached a mediocre 63 for 4, and the required run rate had escalated to nearly seven per over.
But hope was restored by an exciting partnership between Parchment and McFarlane, and at the second break – 31 overs – 128 runs were required with still six wickets in hand. The inning had been revived, and with Lindo and Dyer still to come GSCL seemed set.
It turned out not to be. With the score at 153, McFarlane (56) was foolishly run out – taking off on a suicidal run to a ball collected by the wicketkeeper standing back - to end a 90 run partnership. Parchment (52) and Lindo were given out LBW, only to be followed by Dyer on another suicidal run, as GSCL batsmen lost their way, and hopes for a second title evaporated. The inning closed at 198 off 41 overs.
“Our goal was to come out here and play team cricket, no one player is too valuable to the team, it had to be a complete team effort if we were to succeed. I am happy that all the players responded well to my captainship and we really gelled together on and off the field. AGCC has finally made a mark in Cricket in USA and have proved they have taken plenty of strides towards the right direction," AGCC Captain Jibran Gul said, adding, "AGCC is a team to team to watch out for in the years to come.”
PostScript: The South East region owes much to the untiring efforts of Barney Jones (CFCL's president) and his team who worked hard to repair the damage to the pitches as some individuals tried to sabotage the entire event by vandalizing the synthetic turf wickets.