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By Peter Della Penna in Newark, New Jersey
Atlantic openers Aditya Mishra and Gowkaran Roopnarine showed their
hunger for a spot on the USA national team by feasting on the opposition
bowlers Sunday afternoon as they guided their team to a pair of
victories to finish as the undefeated tournament champions on Sunday at
the 2011 USACA Twenty20 Nationals in Newark, New Jersey. Mishra scored
87 in a five-run win over New York while Roopnarine scored 81 not out in
a 42-run win over Central West in the championship match at Weequahic
Game One – North East vs. South East 15-over game
In the first match of the day, North East defeated South East by 16
runs, a final margin that makes the game look much closer than it
actually was. North East won the toss and elected to bat first. Three
of the top four batsmen – Sharaz Baksh, Manwar Abassi and Timmy Thomas –
made solid contributions. Abassi top scored with 34 in 24 balls and
produced a 57-run second wicket stand with Baksh that propelled North
East to a total of 110 for 8. Bhim George took 4 for 14 bowling left-arm
orthodox spin for South East while there were also three runouts in the
South East’s chase was reduced by one over for a slow over rate in
the field. Despite facing an unheralded North East bowling attack, South
East struggled to get any momentum going. Sheldon Smith bowled an
economical three over spell of left-arm spin, taking 1 for 7, while
Thomas dashed any hopes of a South East charge by taking 3 for 13 with
his off-spin. South East needed 33 off the last over to win but the
first ball bowled by Fazal Alam went for a single to seal the game. Two
sixes off the last two balls by Hussain Haider meant that South East
finished on 94 for 9. Thomas was named Man of the Match for scoring 29
in 17 to go along with his tidy bowling effort.
Game Two - Central West vs. Central East 15-over game
In a game to decide who would win the Western Conference, Central
West defeated Central East by three wickets in a hard fought contest.
Central East won the toss and elected to bat first and for the second
match in a row, Central East’s openers got their side off to a fantastic
start with a 59-run stand. Fahad Babar played shots all around the
ground while Saminda Siriwardena supported him by giving him the strike
at every opportunity. Babar fell for 40 in 27 and was replaced by
Manpreet Singh, who survived a chance on 20 and went on to rocket 42 off
20 balls. No one crossed double digits outside the top three though and
Central East finished on 120 for 9.
Central West came out swinging hard and fast, determined to finish
the game as quickly as possible to overtake Central East on net run
rate. Akhil Pathan bowled Ryan Corns on the third ball of the innings,
but Rahul Kukreti came in and teamed up with Sushil Nadkarni to boost
CWR with a 52-run second wicket partnership in 3.4 overs. Nadkarni fell
for 24 in 11 and Man of the Match Kukreti a short time later for 35 in
21, both to Airaj Syed’s off-spin.
Amir Nanji carried the chase after the twin setbacks, scoring 23 off
18 balls before falling to Pathan making it 110 for 7 in 11.3 overs.
Orlando Baker and Usman Shuja took Central West over the line with 15
balls to spare as Central West finished with a net run rate that took
them past Central East by 0.797 runs per over and assured them a place
in the final against the winner of the game between New York and
Atlantic. South West finished third in the group and North West last on
net run rate with all four teams sharing a 1-1 record.
Game Three – New York vs. Atlantic 15-over game
In a thrilling see-saw contest, Atlantic held off New York to win by
five runs. Atlantic won the toss and batted first as Aditya Mishra put
the New York bowling attack to the sword. A day after his opening
partner Gowkaran Roopnarine scored 96 in 58 balls against North East,
Mishra tallied 87 in 49 balls, mixing elegance with brute force. Mishra,
who brought up his 50 in 33 balls, had eight fours and six sixes in his
knock and put on 73 in eight overs for the first wicket with
Roopnarine. After both men left the crease, Naseer Islam and Stuart
Mills turned in handy cameos to take Atlantic to 161 for 5 at the end of
Image (above) - Aditya Mishra watches the ball fly away over long
on after striking New York leg-spinner Bryan Murphy for his third six
in four balls during the 10th over. [Courtesy: Peter Della
New York seemed undaunted by the run rate needed to win as Akeem
Dodson and Glen Hall got New York off to a scorching start. Hall fell on
the fifth ball of the second over for 17 in 7 balls, but Quasen Alfred
picked up where he left off the day before with a series of monster
hits. Alfred and Dodson took New York to 89 for 1 after seven overs and
it appeared they would cruise to victory until Sean Stanislaus shifted
the momentum of the game with a sensational runout on the first ball of
the eighth. Stanislaus charged in from the midwicket boundary and fired a
sensational direct hit to nab Alfred, who was attempting to come back
for a second run and the second wicket stand ended at 63 in 32 balls.
Dodson fell a short time later, caught on the boundary for 49 in 28
balls to make it 108 for 3 in 9.4 overs.
New York was still in front of the required scoring rate with a slew
of batsmen up their sleeve, but the tide turned back in favor of
Atlantic again when Naseer Islam bowled a crucial 12th over, conceding
only four runs as he dismissed Bryan Murphy for 20 and two balls later
had vice-captain Barrington Bartley out stumped for a golden duck. New
York then scored 10 each in the 13th and 14th overs to enter the final
over at 144 for 5 needing 18 to win.
Atlantic captain Neil McGarrell came on to bowl his last over with
George Adams on strike and Steve Massiah at the opposite end. The first
ball was pitched full on the stumps and Adams slogged it over midwicket
for six before cracking a full toss over the cover boundary on the next
ball for another maximum, whipping the New York bench into a frenzy.
McGarrell kept his cool though and fired the next ball in flatter and
fuller to clean bowl Adams as the batsman failed in his attempt to end
the match with a third straight heave. Karan Ganesh came in was beaten
in flight to be stumped on the only ball he faced for the weekend,
giving Atlantic belief once again. Andy Mohammed arrived for the hat
trick ball and in an attempt to get a single to put Massiah on strike,
Mohammed played around a full delivery to see his stumps knocked back as
the Atlantic fielders swarmed their captain in celebration. With one
ball to go, New York’s last chance at victory was in the hands of Adrian
Gordon but he suffered the same fate as Ganesh, beaten in flight and
stumped as McGarrell took four wickets in four balls to end the match.
McGarrell’s heroics earned him the Man of the Match award ahead of
Mishra, who turned in the second highest score of the weekend.
Atlantic finished the Eastern Conference group undefeated while New
York finished ahead of North East on net run rate in second place at
1-1. North East finished third while South East was the only winless
team on the weekend and finished in last place.
Championship Match – Atlantic vs. Central West 12-over game
Atlantic surged on after the win over New York and left Central West
in the dust to win the tournament final by 42 runs, the widest victory
margin by runs in the tournament. Central West won the toss and
curiously sent Atlantic in to bat. Six of the eight group matches were
won by the team batting first, but Central West had successfully won
chasing against Central East earlier in the day.
Only a few hours after he plundered New York’s bowling attack, Mishra
was out first ball of the innings to Usman Shuja, late on a pull shot
to send a top edge to point. It didn’t matter though as Roopnarine and
Adil Bhatti combined for a 92-run partnership during the next 8.4 overs.
The two players shared a 97-run stand a day before against North East
as well, the two highest partnerships of the tournament. Roopnarine was
ruthless in his assault on the CWR bowlers, bringing up his 50 in 24
balls, while Bhatti complemented him with a series of graceful lofted
drives. The stand ended when Bhatti was run out for 33 in 26 balls
trying to turn a single into two. Roopnarine kept on chugging along
though and finished with 81 in 38 balls, including four fours and eight
sixes, to give Atlantic a first innings total of 133 for 3.
Central West openers Nadkarni and Corns provided brief hope of
winning, taking the score to 38 in the first four overs, but on the last
ball of the fourth, Nadkarni’s attempt at a fourth six failed and he
was bowled by Bhatti’s medium pace for 24 in 12 balls. That wound up
being the top score for CWR as their chase soon fizzled. Junaid Rasheed
finished with 3 for 10 in two overs of off-spin and Central West ended
on 91 for 7 in their 12 overs.
At the tournament awards presentation, Roopnarine cleaned up the
awards for Finals MVP, Best Batsman and Tournament MVP, finishing with
193 runs in three innings at an average of 96.50. Shail Bhatt of Central
West finished the weekend as the highest wicket-taker with eight and
claimed the Best Bowler trophy. New York’s Dodson was given the Best
Young Player (Under-25) award after finishing with 73 runs at the same
average while completing four dismissals behind the stumps in addition
to one runout.