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By Peter Della Penna in Brooklyn, N.Y. (on Twitter)
John Adams High School (14-1, #3 seed) knocked off previously
unbeaten FDR High School (14-1, #2 seed) to advance to the 2012 New York
Public Schools Athletic League championship match against Long Island
City High School with a stunning 50-run win on Friday at Gateway Park in
Brooklyn, N.Y. John Adams was bowled out for 113 in 19 overs, but a
remarkable batting collapse by FDR saw them wiped out for 63 in 19.3
overs, their lowest total of the season.
It was FDR’s first loss since losing to eventual champions William C.
Bryant in the quarterfinals of the 2010 PSAL Playoffs. FDR went
undefeated in 2011 to win the PSAL title. Meanwhile, John Adams advances
back to the PSAL final for the third time and is seeking their first
title after losing both the 2008 and 2009 finals to Newcomers High
School. In Friday’s other semifinal Long Island City (16-0, #1 seed)
beat Hillcrest by 8 runs (12-3, #4 seed), defending a first innings
total of 143, and returns to the final after losing to FDR last year in a
super over after scores were tied at the end of 20 overs.
FDR won the toss and elected to field on a sunny Friday afternoon in
Jamaica Bay. Gurprit Singh and Harmanveer Singh opened the batting for
John Adams and put on 43 for the first wicket. Gurprit hit three
boundaries and a six before he slogged USA U-18 all-rounder Zahib Tariq
into the wind and was caught at mid on for 26. Harmanveer departed two
overs later, bowled by Antu Das for 14 to make it 53 for 2 after 7.
USA U-18 selection Randall Wilson joined Zafaar Yusuf at the crease
and while Wilson is the more heralded player it was the diminutive
junior Yusuf who stole the show. Yusuf top scored with 28 off 24 balls,
feasting on a pair of leg side deliveries and launching them over the
square leg boundary for six. He was bowled in strange circumstances at
the end of the 12th over, ducking and turning his back to a loopy full
toss from spinner Hamza Rana only to hear the ball hit the stumps.
the score at 87 for 3, John Adams appeared well set to launch for a
massive score with captain Troy Mars, 739 runs in the regular season and
another 121 in the playoffs, joining Wilson at the crease. However, the
partnership lasted only four balls when the pair got into a terrible
mixup that left Wilson stranded halfway down the pitch. Mithun Mishu
fielded at mid on and tossed to Tariq over the bowler’s stumps to run
out Wilson for 15.
Image (right) - John Adams HS captain Troy Mars hits a six over
long on during his team's semifinal win over 2011 champion FDR HS.
[Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
The score was taken to 103 in the 16th when Daniel Singh was caught
at mid on by Khawar Abbas off the bowling of Abrar Zafar for 2. Two
balls later, Mars was attempting his second six when he skied Zafar to
Abbas again, who took an outstanding catch on the run at mid off to
dismiss the dangerous Mars for 14. After a run out in the 17th,
Mohaiminul Islam wiped out the tail with three wickets in the 19th over
and John Adams was all out for 113. Islam finished with 3 for 19 in
four, FDR’s best figures on the day.
It should have been a simple target for FDR to chase, but John Adams
bowled and fielded with precision and intensity to put FDR under
pressure from the start. Wilson took a wicket in the first over as
Islam, a senior with an average of 86 during the regular season, skied a
chance to midwicket that was well caught running in from the boundary
by Gurprit Singh to make it 2 for 1.
After five overs the score was 13 for 1 as John Adams kept things
tight but a costly over bowled by Yusuf looked like it might finally
give FDR the momentum back and propel them towards the target. Zafar hit
sixes off three consecutive deliveries from the leg-spinner, including a
chest-high no-ball, as part of a 22-run over to take the score to 35
However, the gentle medium pace of Daniel Singh proved to be the
undoing of FDR beginning in the next over. Tariq went to pull a short
delivery down the leg side and a massive appeal for caught behind was
upheld. Tariq appeared unhappy with the decision, gesturing that it went
off his thigh pad and after taking a few moments finally walked off for
7. Two overs later, Singh dismissed Zafar for 25, caught by Harmanveer
Singh at long on. Five balls later he had Zain Ali splicing a simple
chance to Wilson at cover for a duck and the wheels started to fall off
for FDR with the score 38 for 4 after 9.
Despite a shaky first over by Yusuf, John Adams captain Mars stuck
with him and the move paid off in the 10th when he bowled Das for 4 to
make it 42 for 5. Daniel Singh capped off his match-turning spell in the
11th when Rana sliced a full delivery to Ganesh Bheir at gully for 1 to
make it 44 for 6. FDR’s raucous support from the first innings had now
FDR’s tail tried to bat out the overs, but they were finally bowled
out for 63 three balls into the final over to spark wild celebrations on
the field by John Adams. Daniel Singh finished with 4 for 10 in four
overs while Wilson took 2 for 3 in three overs including a maiden. John
Adams as a team bowled three maidens during the innings. Yusuf had 2 for
7 in his final three overs to finish with 2 for 29 in four. After the
22-run sixth over, the next best over FDR had in the chase was seven
runs in the 18th as John Adams built relentless pressure which
ultimately took them to victory.
The final between John Adams and Long Island City takes place on
Saturday at the Baisley Pond Park South field in Queens, N.Y. Both teams
are attempting to win their first PSAL title.