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By Peter Della Penna (on Twitter)
DreamCricket.com is wrapping up the year in United States Cricket by recognizing USA’s standout performers at the international level. The 2012 New Inning Foundation Newcomer of the Year is Abhimanyu Rajp. The off-spinner was USA's most outstanding debutant at the senior level during the calendar year and follows in the footsteps of fellow tweaker Muhammad Ghous and women’s player Shebani Bhaskar, the previous winners of the award in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
Six years after USA’s first appearance in an ICC World Cup event at the 2006 ICC U-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka, Akeem Dodson stood as the lone player from that tour who had ever appeared in a match for the senior side. That streak ended in March when Rajp received his first senior level cap for USA at the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in the UAE against Italy.
Rajp made his presence felt immediately, taking a wicket with his very first ball when he earned a leg before decision against Andy Northcote. Two matches later against Ireland, he claimed the big scalps of Kevin O’Brien and Ed Joyce both to return catches to cement his place as a genuine wicket-taking threat. By the end of the tournament he finished tied for first on the team with 10 wickets. Whether it was through his sharp turning deliveries or his sure-handed catching, Rajp consistently brought vibrant energy to the field for USA in 2012.
Image (right) - Abhimanyu Rajp bowls vs. Scotland at the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in Dubai. [Courtesy: ICC/Ian Jacobs]
While Rajp’s 2 for 24 against Ireland was his most impressive performance for the caliber of batsmen he dismissed, his best statistical performance at the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier was 2 for 23 in a 30-run win over Oman. Rajp also played four matches for USA at ICC World Cricket League Division Four in Malaysia and took five wickets with a best analysis of 3 for 60 against Denmark. He was part of a squad that saw USA gain promotion to compete in ICC WCL Division Three next spring in Bermuda.
For the year, Rajp finished second overall in the wicket column for USA with 15 scalps in 12 matches. At the age of 26, he still has plenty of years ahead to establish a long and fruitful career in a USA uniform.
Away from cricket, Rajp lives in southern California and works as an operations analyst at pharmaceutical giant Amgen. He also moonlights as a singer under the stage name Musafir Ludhianvi with Brainstorm and Apartment E as part of Suvah Entertainment.
In recognition of his achievement, Rajp will receive a plaque as well as a $250 DreamCricket.com Pavilion Shop gift certificate sponsored by New Inning Foundation.