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By Peter Della Penna
DreamCricket.com is wrapping up the year in United States Cricket by recognizing USA’s standout performers at the international level. The 2011 New Inning Foundation Individual Performance of the Year belongs to USA U-19 medium pace bowler Mital Patel for his 6 for 35, including a hat-trick, against Afghanistan U-19 at the ICC U-19 World Cup Qualifier in Ireland.
There was strong competition for this award in 2011, least of all from several of Patel’s teammates on the USA U-19 team. Cameron Mirza set a USA U-19 record with 118 not out against Argentina U-19 before Steven Taylor broke it later in the year with an epic innings of 140 against Papua New Guinea U-19. Taylor also smoked 102 in 74 balls against Namibia U-19. Leg-spinner Gurpreet Sandhu took miserly figures of 5 for 7 against Bermuda U-19.
At the senior level, USA Women’s team member Shebani Bhaskar scored 72 in a one-run win over Full Member nation Zimbabwe at the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier. Asif Khan and Usman Shuja each turned in heroic efforts in a two-wicket win over Oman at ICC World Cricket League Division Three. Khan took 3 for 11 and scored 31 not out while Shuja took 2 for 22 and scored 43 not out as the pair combined for a 71-run ninth wicket partnership to take USA to victory.
However, Patel’s feat squeezed past the others to be declared the best of the lot not only because it was statistically impressive but because of the overall impact it had on the match. While several USA U-19 players have taken five-wicket hauls, Patel became the first to take six. Patel struck twice in the fourth over of the match to put Afghanistan on the back foot. After fighting back in the middle overs, Afghanistan looked set to post a score in the range of 200-220 in a 46-over rain affected innings. Patel’s third spell eliminated the possibility of that happening.
Image (right) - Mital Patel with the match ball from his specatcular feat of 6 for 35, including a hat-trick, against Afghanistan U-19 in Ireland. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
He took a return catch for his third wicket in the 38th over, then ended the 40th with his fourth of the day. He started the 42nd by taking his fifth and without much fanfare prepared to bowl a hat-trick ball to Nasir Ahmadzai, who was still anchoring the innings on 47 with Afghanistan nine down. A skied slog to Greg Sewdial at midwicket meant Patel completed a hat-trick and finished with the best ever figures for a USA U-19 bowler. Bowling Afghanistan out for 183 with more than four overs left unused proved vital in the end as USA won a tense contest by three wickets.
In recognition of his achievement, Patel will receive a plaque as well as a $250 gift certificate sponsored by the New Inning Foundation and DreamCricket.com.