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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.
With 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 after 6.
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 been silenced.
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.