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By Peter Della Penna in Edison, New Jersey
Teams and administrators struggled to cope with ground conditions for the second day in a row, but five matches were played with New York and Atlantic coming away on top in the Eastern Conference bracket while North West, South West and Central East all claimed victories in the Western Conference on Saturday at the 2011 USACA Twenty20 Nationals in Edison, New Jersey.
Pic (File Photo): Saminda Siriwardena made 42 off 29 helping CE defeat NW on Day 2.
The matches were moved from Newark to the Edison area because the grounds designated for play were waterlogged and and most other grounds were unavailable as a result of local leagues having play scheduled for Saturday. At the Woodbrook Elementary School in Edison, only two matches were played on a field in which the grass was reportedly six to eight inches high or more. Balls were allegedly lost in the grass inside the field of play. Gowkaran Roopnarine turned in the top score of the day, blasting 96 runs off 58 balls as Atlantic posted 163 for 4 in 20 overs before defeating North East by 18 runs.
In the second match at the ground, New York throttled South East by seven wickets. South East won the toss and batted first, but not for long as they were bowled out for 77 in 16.3 overs. Adrian Gordon took 3 for 33 and leg-spinner Bryan Murphy 3 for 9. Only two players passed double-digits for South East with Syed Hasan top scoring with 23. Akeem Dodson had four dismissals behind the stumps. New York chased the runs in 8.5 overs for the loss of three wickets. Dodson finished 24 not out while Quasen Alfred also scored 24, including two sixes.
At Pine Grove Manor Elementary School in Somerset, the first match of the day scheduled between South West and Central West was delayed for more than two hours due to wretched ground conditions. The players showed up at the ground to find the field littered with broken glass bottles and drug paraphernalia.
Initially, it appeared that there might be no play at the ground as the captains and management of each teams were uneasy about playing on the field due to serious safety concerns. Ultimately, the players of all four Western Conference teams spent about 20 minutes collecting shards of glass by picking them up and putting them into plastic bags until the ground was deemed reasonable enough to begin play.
The first match was reduced to 15 overs, which South West won by 10 runs. SWR won the toss, batting first and posted 109 all out in 15 overs. Central West fast bowler Usman Shuja set the tone early on, taking 3 for 1 in three overs. Off-spinner Shail Bhatt then cleaned up the lower order, taking 6 for 24 in his three over spell.
Central West’s task of chasing the runs appeared to be straightforward at the innings break before they were informed that they had taken too long to bowl their overs and received a two over penalty, creating a target of 110 in 13 overs.
Elmore Hutchinson claimed the big scalp of Sushil Nadkarni, top edging a hook that sailed straight to fine leg. Hammad Shahid then accounted for Ryan Corns and Amir Nanji with a pair of short balls and Central West struggled to rebuild from 22 for 3. Kashyap Desai played a valiant knock down the order with 34 in 16 balls but it was not enough as Central West finished 99 for 9 in 13.
Central East won the second 15-over contest of the day, beating North West by 28 runs. CER won the toss and batted first as the opening pair of Darshan Patel and Saminda Siriwardena put on 52 runs for the first wicket. Siriwardena in particular looked majestic as he top scored with 42 off 29 balls including seven fours, every one of them flayed through the off side. Central East finished at 139 for 7 in their 15 with Sunny Singh taking 3 for 11 in two overs for North West.
Singh and Srikanth Sundaragopalan then one-upped CER by putting on 66 runs for the first wicket in reply for North West. Singh finished with 40 and Sundaragopalan with 25, but when the pair got out the North West innings ran out of steam and they finished on 111 for 6.
The final match of the day was a 12-over game between North West and South West, with NWR coming out on top by six runs. North West won the toss and batted first, notching 128 for 5 in their 12. North West was 63 for 3 in eight overs, but more than doubled their score in the last 24 balls. Syed Fareed Ahmad led the charge at number five, scoring 40 not out off 20 balls including four sixes while Ashok Singh blasted 26 in 8 balls, with five fours and a six.
South West kept the run rate in check during the early part of their chase as Ricky Singh and Peshaan Wedanarachchi had a brisk 59-run opening stand. South West then lost three wickets in three balls as Singh left for 35 at the end of the fifth and Wedanarachchi for 19 at the start of the sixth over. Amit Sood was then out first ball on the second delivery of the sixth over by Ahmad to make it 59 for 3.
South West still looked a good chance to win until Marcus Stewart fell for 26 off 12 on the fourth ball of the 10th over to make it 102 for 5 and Hutchinson fell on the next ball, both men claimed by left arm spinner Samarth Shah.
South West needed 13 to win off the last over, but couldn’t pull it off, finishing 122 for 8 in 12. Crucially, the umpires called two five-ball overs in a row, the seventh and eighth overs. Had South West been able to use those two extra deliveries to score, the match may have turned out different. Shah finished a superb spell with 4 for 20 in three, including a tremendous final over under pressure.
Sunday will have three 15-over games played at Weequahic Park in Newark. The first fixture is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. between South East and North East. Central West vs. Central East and New York vs. Atlantic are the other two matches on tap.