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By Peter Della Penna (on Twitter)
Sarasota Cricket Club overcame their finals jinx to defeat Commonwealth Cricket Club by six wickets to claim the tournament championship at the 2012 Philadelphia International Cricket Festival on Sunday at the Philadelphia Cricket Club. Sarasota had advanced to the finals each of the previous three years but the 2009 final was rained out before the Florida based club finished as runner-up to Toronto CC in 2010 and 2011.
Commonwealth, who traveled from the Boston area to participate in the tournament, won the toss and elected to bat first in the 20-over match. Commonwealth got off to a quick start thanks to Donnohue Clarke, who struck 23 off 15 balls including five boundaries before he was bowled by Shreenath Rajagopalan in the fourth over to make it 33 for 1.
Soumendra Basu and Abhishek Dwarki took the score to 63 before Basu was bowled by Jim Persaud for 14 in the ninth over. From there the scoring rate continued to slow down as Sarasota took wickets at regular intervals.
Image (above) - Sarasota CC poses with former South African international Paul Harris (top row, second from left) and the first place trophy after winning the 2012 Philadelphia International Cricket Festival. [Copyright: DreamCricket.com]
Dwarki was the fifth wicket to fall with the score at 98 in the 17th over, but not before he top-scored with 31 off 37 for his side. Dwarki was dismissed by Kirti Vansadia, who took two more wickets to finish with 3 for 23 in three overs. Kauatubh Dixit also took 3 for 23 but with a better economy in four overs bowled. Commonwealth eventually finished on 124 for 9 in 20 overs.
Despite the loss of their first wicket in the second over of the chase, Sarasota made steady progress toward the target. Commonwealth still had a chance of reining them in when Kirti Vansadis was bowled for 21 in the ninth over to make it 59 for 2.
However, the 10th over saw the start of a brisk victory charge led by Rajagopalan and Praveen Bulusu. The pair took 10 runs in the 10th over, Sarasota’s first double-digit frame of the innings, and then followed it up with 19 runs in the 13th and 15 more in the 14th to take their partnership to 58 runs in just 5.2 overs.
Per the tournament rules, Rajagopalan retired upon going past 40 but the match was effectively won by that point. Bulusu was then bowled off the first ball of the 15th for 27 by Sanjay Subbana. Arun Selvaraj was then stumped for 2 off the fifth ball of the over when scores were level before the winning single was taken to seal the tournament title for Sarasota with five overs to spare. Former South African international Paul Harris was on hand to congratulate the tournament champions.