USA U-18 captain Steven Taylor became the first and only player of the week to raise triple figures when he scored 102 off 117 balls to lead his side to a 75-run win over Canada U-18 on the final day of the 2012 ICC Americas U-18 Match Play Camp on Saturday in Lauderhill, Florida. Taylor brought up the century with his eighth boundary and also struck two sixes during his innings just a day after scoring 81 off 35 balls in a T20 friendly match against Bermuda U-18. Despite the loss, Canada finished in first place at the event with two wins and a no result as well as enough bonus points to put them well clear of both the USA and Bermuda.
“The overall performance of our batting just goes to show… Canada and Bermuda have played together for some time and our guys didn’t,” said USA coach Mumtaz Yusuf after the win. “From day one, the main thing from a development point of view is that we improved, though there are a lot of things we need to work out but still it was a gratifying win to show that the first two days when we got outplayed, the team needed to gel first.”
USA won the toss and elected to bat first in a game with a start time moved up to 9 a.m., an hour earlier than the scheduled starting time of the previous five matches during the week, and reduced from 50 to 45 overs to accommodate for a semi-pro football league game that was scheduled to take place on Saturday evening on the same stadium field at the Central Broward Regional Park.
Karteek Kankanala opened the batting with Taylor and lasted until the end of the seventh over when he was caught at mid off for 7 by Canada U-18 captain Sudeepta Aurka off the bowling of Abrash Khan to make it 26 for 1.
Taylor and Shakeel Ahmad then produced USA’s best partnership in live matches during the week, 88 runs for the second wicket. Taylor survived a few lucky chances at deep midwicket on 21 and 37 when fielders on the west boundary lost sight of the ball staring into the sun, which was higher in the eastern sky due to an earlier start than previous matches. The partnership finally ended with the score on 114 when Ahmad failed to clear mid on and was caught for 23 to give Khan his second wicket.
Taylor and Arsh Buch combined for 38 runs to take USA past 150 before Buch was stumped for 10 off the bowling of Nikhil Dutta. Taylor had earlier reached 50 in 74 balls with a four swept to fine leg and proceeded to raise his century off 116 balls with Krish Goel at the other end when Taylor pulled a short ball over fine leg to end the 37th over.
Goel had struggled to find runs in his stay at the crease coming in at number five and eventually ran himself out for 1 off 15 balls in the 38th. Taylor then fell on the next delivery, slogging left arm spinner Farhan Malik to Bakshpreet Gill at long on to make it 168 for 5.
Dutta’s off-spin was responsible for two more wickets before the end of the innings, Amarnauth Persaud driving to cover for 16 and Vibhav Altekar slogging to long on for 25 in the final over of the innings. USA eventually ended on 218 for 7. Dutta had Canada’s best figures with 3 for 38 in nine overs while Khan had 2 for 43 in eight.
With Canada’s tournament points lead not in jeopardy, they demonstrated little desire to attempt to chase the target of 219. After five overs they were 14 for 0 and after 10 they were 23 for 1 after the fall of Shan Anantharajah to Taylor’s medium pace for 5 off 24 balls, caught mistiming a pull to square leg.
Aurka fell at the end of the 12th to give Taylor his second wicket, caught at point by Krish Goel for 15 to make it 28 for 1. Canada’s best partnership of the day was put on by Dutta and a combination of Armaan Kapoor and Gurkaran Dhillon for the third wicket. They had taken the score to 63 for 2 in the 23rd when Dutta slammed a full delivery from Ahmad right into Kapoor’s body and the batsman was forced to retire hurt. Dhillon came in and contributed three runs before the third wicket fell on 70 at the end of the 25th.
Dutta had just been dropped the previous ball on 24 when he skied Ahmad’s off-spin to Kankanala at long on, who dropped a straightforward chance. Dhillon then was late trying to cut Ahmad and feathered an edge to Taylor behind the stumps, who had taken over from Kankanala with the gloves after finishing his bowling spell.
Siddharth Shekar was out without scoring when he dragged a drive off Zahib Tariq onto his stumps in the next over. Dutta and Arjun Parikh added 32 runs before Parikh was runout for 5 to end the 32nd. Kapoor returned to the crease to start the 33rd but was out before the end of the over, caught at deep midwicket by Amarnauth Persaud off Ahmad for 10 to make it 107 for 6. Khan was then stumped for 2 after he was beaten in flight coming down the track to Ahmad.
Dutta added 30 for the eighth wicket with Malik before he was finally dismissed for Canada’s best individual score on the week, 71 off 99 balls. It was Tariq who claimed him, caught by Randall Wilson at deep midwicket. Malik was out three balls later for 10 and the match wrapped up another four balls after that when Prushoth Wijayaraj was stumped by Taylor off Goel to end Canada’s innings in 41.2 overs for 143. Tariq had USA’s best return of 3 for 30 in nine overs while Ahmad finished with 3 for 43 in nine. Taylor had a tight spell at the start of the innings, taking 2 for 13 in eight overs with three maidens which helped stifle Canada and put them behind the 8-ball throughout the second innings.
All three teams now leave the tournament with areas to analyze and improve upon before next year’s ICC Americas U-19 Division One Tournament where the winner will claim a spot in the 2014 ICC U-19 World Cup. Yusuf has eyed a few things he wants to see happen for the players, with help from the USACA administration, ahead of the 2013 ICC Americas U-19 Division One tournament.
“There’s a lot of work to be done. We need to have the team together for a longer period of team if you want to really succeed,” Yusuf said. “The pace bowling, we can’t have a wicketkeeper standing up [to the stumps] from the first over to the 50th over. That gives a bad signal to the other team the pace that we have. We have to do a lot of work on our fielding, especially their techniques. The catches that we dropped, their arms are locked and that’s the reason why those catches popped off. Those are not catches that should have been dropped.”