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By Peter Della Penna (on Twitter)
USA veteran batsman Aditya Thyagarajan produced the top score at this weekend’s 2012 USACA National Championship in Florida as his 109 not out led the Eastern Conference to a 40-run win over the Western Conference on Sunday during a 50-over trial match at Brian Piccolo Park in Cooper City, Florida. The East posted 256 for 4 before bowling out the West for 216 in the 47th over.
The USACA National Championship wasn’t played in the traditional sense compared to previous years. Rather than have teams selected by their respective regions to compete in a round-robin super league event, this edition saw players hand-picked by USACA representing the “East” and “West” shuffle between rosters during the weekend in order to give players as many opportunities as possible to demonstrate their skill level against national talent. Thyagarajan, based in California, played for the West in a Twenty20 trial match on Saturday while one player, Saqib Saleem, batted and bowled within the same innings in the 50-over match on Sunday.
Thyagarajan entered at number five in the sixth over with the score at 19 for 2. Timothy Surujbally had retired hurt while Steven Taylor and Steve Massiah had been dismissed for 6 and 1 respectively after the East won the toss and elected to bat first. Like he has done on many occasions with the national team, Thyagarajan stabilized his team’s innings by building a 76-run stand with Ravi Timbawala, who made 43 in 67 balls.
Image (right) - Aditya Thyagarajan file photo in action against Denmark at 2012 ICC WCL Division Four in September. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
After Timbawala fell in the 24th over to Timil Patel, Thyagarajan teamed with Karan Ganesh to add 87 runs for the fourth wicket. Ganesh was caught behind off Japen Patel for 38 following which Thyagarajan added 74 more runs in an unbroken fifth wicket partnership with Adil Bhatti. Bhatti finished 35 not out off 28 balls while Thyagarajan’s unbeaten 109 came off 137 balls with eight fours and a six as the East finished on 256 for 4.
In addition to both Patels, Naseer Jamali and Usman Shuja claimed the other two wickets for the West. Shuja finished with 1 for 18 off five while Jamali had 1 for 29 off seven including a maiden. Ten bowlers were used in the innings by the West.
In reply, the West had several players get starts but with the exception of Orlando Baker, no one was able to turn in a significant score. William Perkins, the Trinidad & Tobago batsman who played one T20 International for the West Indies in 2008, made 20 in 19 balls before departing in the sixth over to the left-arm spin of Danial Ahmed. Japen Patel and Baker added 79 for the second wicket to give the West a solid platform to chase the target of 257, but the West was unable to accelerate and wound up losing by a comfortable margin.
Japen Patel made 40 off 74 balls before being dismissed by Saleem to make it 104 for 2 in the 24th. Timil Patel entered at number four and scored 40 off 54 balls but was trapped LBW by medium pacer Hammad Shahid to make it 173 for 3 in the 38th. Baker retired out on 58 off 80 balls at the end of the over with the score on 174, leaving the West needing 83 runs to win in 12 overs with Sushil Nadkarni and Saleem fresh at the crease.
With nine overs to go, the West needed 69 to win. It was then that Ganesh derailed the West’s chances of chasing the runs by taking three wickets in four balls. Ganesh bowled Nadkarni for 5 off the first ball of the 42nd. Two balls later he had Saami Siddiqui caught by Steven Taylor for a duck. He then followed it up by trapping Abhimanyu Rajp leg before to put himself on a hat-trick as the West slumped to 188 for 7.
Shuja was dimissed by Junaid Rasheed for 8, which was sandwiched between the dismissals of Saleem and Adrian Gordon by Bhatti as the West finished all out for 216 in 46.4 overs. Ganesh took 3 for 6 in two overs while Bhatti claimed 2 for 27 in 6.4 overs. Ahmed finished with solid figures of 1 for 32 in 10 overs including a maiden opening the bowling with Elmore Hutchinson, who finished with 0 for 26 in seven overs with two maidens.
In a Twenty20 match trial match on Saturday, Ahmed took 3 for 12 in four overs with a maiden as the East restricted the West to 100 for 7 in 20 overs before scoring 146 for 7 in 20 overs, batting out their full quota after passing the small target of 101. Ahmed claimed the big scalps of Thyagarajan and Nadkarni as well as Timil Patel to finish with the best bowling figures on the day. Nadkarni’s 30 off 34 balls was the high score in the first innings with 17 extras contributing to the total. Adil Bhatti claimed 2 for 12 in four overs while the other two wickets were a result of runouts.
In the East innings, Taylor was dismissed in the second over without scoring for an early setback. Perkins and Surujbally responded by blitzing the Western bowling unit for 77 runs in just 5.4 overs before both batsmen retired at the end of the seventh over with the score on 86. Perkins tallied 48 off 18 balls with three boundaries and five sixes while Surujbally walked off after scoring 35 off 22 balls including five fours and a six. Japen Patel had the next best contribution with 22 off 28 balls. Leg-spinner Saleem finished with 2 for 22 in four overs, claiming the wickets of Japen Patel and Andy Mohammed. Shahid, Hutchinson and Baker took a wicket each.