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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 Bowler of the Year is Muhammad Ghous. The 22-year-old from New Jersey was previously the recipient of the Newcomer of the Year award in 2010.
Ghous claimed the most wickets for USA in the calendar year, finishing with 16 in 15 matches. He also bowled the most overs for USA as he racked up 80.3, with 32 of them delivered in nine Twenty20 contests and the rest in 50-over matches.
Image (right) - Muhammad Ghous file photo from the 2010 ICC U-19 World Cup in New Zealand. [Courtesy: Daniela Zaharia]
While Ghous’ statistics in any one match may not stick out, he has displayed poise in various roles. In all but two matches at the World Twenty20 Qualifier, Ghous opened the bowling as a spinner and rarely failed to deliver. More often than not he prevented the opposition from getting off to a quick start with his tidy spells. In 50-over matches, he was sometimes used in the power play overs and once again could be counted on to not let batsmen take advantage of fielding restrictions.
Ghous is at his best though when the pressure rises and the game situation is at its most intense. This was epitomized in his effort against Singapore in the final match of the group stage at ICC WCL Division Four. USA needed a win to gain promotion to Division Three while a loss would have kept them in Division Four and ended any chance at qualifying for the 2015 ICC World Cup.
USA batted first and made a formidable first innings total of 263, but rain intervened at the start of Singapore’s chase. When the target was revised to 186 in 27 overs, Singapore looked to be the favorites to prevail, especially when they raced to 37 for 0 after five overs.
It was at that moment when Ghous entered the bowling attack in the sixth over and turned the tide back in USA’s favor, snaring a wicket with his fifth ball. In the 10th over, the number of dot balls bowled by Ghous began piling up. Singapore cracked and Ryan Corns completed a run out off the bowling of Ghous, who had now conceded just 6 runs off his first 18 deliveries.
By the time his frenetic six-over spell was finished, Ghous had taken 2 for 20 and Singapore stood at 80 for 5. When he had entered, Singapore was scoring at better than seven per over and required 6.77 per over the rest of the way to win. At the end of his spell, Ghous had placed all the pressure back onto Singapore as their run rate fell to 5 per over while their required rate rose to 9.63. In the end, USA won by 37 runs on D/L method, a seemingly comfortable margin thanks in large part to the steely nerve shown by Ghous.
At both the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in the UAE and ICC WCL Division Four in Malaysia, Ghous was USA’s most economical bowler. He conceded 6.00 runs per over in the UAE while he allowed just 3.62 runs per over in Malaysia. He also finished tied for the most wickets on the team at the World Twenty20 Qualifier in March along with the 2012 New Inning Foundation Newcomer of the Year award winner Abhimanyu Rajp, with both off-spinners taking 10 wickets apiece.
In recognition of his achievement, Ghous will receive a plaque as well as a $250 DreamCricket.com Pavilion Shop gift certificate sponsored by New Inning Foundation.