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By Jaideep Reddy
Nirav Patel's blistering 63 set the stage for the SGCC Jr. to upend the Prince CC by three wickets on Tuesday night in the NATS T20 2011 at Laurel Hill Park in Secaucus, NJ.
Nirav (picture at right) was named Man of the Match for his knock which included four fours and two sixes.
Prince CC won the toss and elected to bat on a great cricketing sunny evening, they lost their first wicket of Faisal Suleri in the fourth ball of the game to Jermaine Lawson after making six runs.
Prince was not going to go down lightly though as Jahanzeib joined Billal at the wicket to give a spirited fight back. The two smashed 80 runs from the 1st through the 11th over to bring the score to 89 for 2 before Jahanzeib got caught in the cover after hitting two huge sixes and a four of the gentle medium pace bowling of Sushanth Konda. At this stage of the game prince were in a very good position, and then came Sidharth Mehta who bowled a very tidy spell of four overs giving away only 16 runs.
Pranav Patel was introduced from the other end and he got the wicket of Adnan in the very first ball of his over to be caught at the deep square leg just inches of the boundary by Sushanth Konda, he was out after making 7 runs to his score, there after Pranav Patel got two more wickets in his next two overs, his final bowling spell was 3 overs giving away 10 runs for his 3 wickets.
Prince CC scored only 30 runs from over no 12th to 19th. During this period there was some excellent spin bowling from Sidharth Mehta and Pranav Patel. Then came the 20th over, which was bowled by Adnan Nasim to Mustafa Khan, his first ball was a dot, the a huge six over extra cover, the next ball six was over midwicket, third ball was a dot, fourth ball was a huge six over long off, fifth ball was a dot and the final ball was a straight drive for a boundary.
Thanks to the 22 run over from the blade of Mustafa Khan, Prince had a respectable total of 145 which was defendable especially on the condition when they have to do it under the lights. Sidharth and Pranav opened the inning for SGCC Jr. and they commenced the job with caution and determination as first over conceded only 2 runs. There was a hopeless second over from Fahad Mehmood, who bowled seven consecutive wides and ended up giving 18 runs in an over, making the job easy for SGCC Juniors.
Zafar khan continued his great swing bowling from the other end, and trapped Pranav LBW for 9 runs which brought Nirav on the crease. Jahanzeib got siddharth out from the other end and all of a sudden juniors started struggling from 20/0 to 25/2. Sushanth came in to bat at number four, but Zafar khan knocked his stumps on the first delivery he faced which was an accurate inswinging Yorker.
SGCC Jr. stumbled as 3 wickets were down with only 30 runs on the board. Nirav had something different in his mind, he was joined by Ketan Patel and started building up partnership with run rate of 6 runs per over. Nirav and Ketan batted patiently when juniors did not want to loose any more wickets at this crucial stage, these two take the team from 28/3 in 5 overs to 55/3 in 9 overs.
Ketan tried to accelerate the run rate at this stage but he got caught out when he was on 15. So far, nothing was going good for juniors but Nirav had other plans. He came up with some superb determination and some great shot selection. Through singles and doubles, he kept the scorecard going for SGCC Jr. without regard to the fall of wickets at the other end.
Prince conceded 33 extra runs, the second highest score in the SGCC Jr. scorecard. Nirav finally got out in 19th over when juniors were 7 runs short from the victory with 3 wickets intact. Juniors surpassed the target in 20th over and won the game by 3 wickets and become the first team to secure their semifinal spot. Nirav was declared the man of the match for his 63 runs which came out at the right time.
“I know that my team needed me to perform in the crucial game to reach the semifinal, It’s a great feeling when you deliver when your team needs it; I just wanted to stick around and build up the partnership as we were struggling at that stage, said Nirav. “I am happy the way I am playing my shots in the gap, which is very important in T20 format especially after power play, Couple of good and/or bad overs can change the whole game and for that you have to constantly focus and trust yourself” He said upon asking how he felt about his performance and this format of the game.
Nirav also helped his team in the first league game against freedom to take the team total from 3 for 15 to 145 after 20 overs, he made 51 in that game and was supported by 31 from Ketan and 33 from Jermaine Lawson and at the end SGCC Jr. won comfortably by 62 runs.