Having lost the morning’s encounter, the Washington Senators needed to eke out a victory to stay alive in the Radiant Info USA Twenty20 tournament. Standing in the way of this conquest were the strengthened Global Challengers team. Runners-up in the last year’s edition, the Challengers were going to be a tough opponent for the Senators - regardless of the circumstances.
The Senators won the toss and elected to bat - hoping to put up a large total and put the Challengers batting line-up under pressure. Anirudh Jonnavitula and Praveen Reddy opened for the Senators against the Challengers attack of Deryk McDonald and Sudesh Dhaniram. The Senators announced their positive intent by raking up 18 runs in 3 overs before the fall of the first wicket - Praveen Reddy - out caught by Dhaniram off his own bowling. At this stage, Ankit Sehgal joined Anirudh and the two batsmen scored 11 runs off McDonald’s next over - almost to make up for the inertia from the earlier match. However, the wily McDonald tempted Anirudh into a misheave - straight to Neil McGarell - thus bringing a promising innings to a close.
The frustration on Anirudh’s face after a well compiled 23 runs off 16 balls said it all. Vijay Beniwal joined Ankit and the hopes of repeating his batting feats of the morning’s match were abruptly curtailed when Sean Thompson held a skier off Dhaniram. Seven runs later, Hiten Chadha was run out for 5 and soon Kumar Nandalal foxed out Dharma Gade for 2 caught by wicket-keeper Mahadeo. Meanwhile, on the other end, Ankit was motoring along well scoring at a decent clip. Nandalal soon accounted for Ankit and the loss of Ankit’s wicket seemed to take the air out of the Senators’ innings.
Nandalal went for the kill luring Senators’ batsmen into his spin web and they all fell in a heap attempting to slog their way out of trouble. Abrar Mohamed was the only batsman who offered a modicum of resistance scoring 24 of 25 balls. The Senators innings eventually folded for 96 when skipper Neil McGarell accounted for R. Marpu. Kumar Nandalal was the destroyer in chief with 5 wickets to his credit and he catapults to the top of the wicket-taker list on Day 1 of the Radiant Info USA Twenty20. Sudhesh Dhaniram also made his mark known in the bowling honors with 2 wickets to his credit.
The batting capitulation seemed to knock the confidence out the proud Senators and the Washington team came out to field with a sense of hopelessness against the strong Challengers batting line-up. Sudesh Dhaniram and Kristoff Gonsalves opened the batting for the Challengers and took their time in the first 3 overs to get a measure of the pitch and the bowlers. They started opening up in the fourth over and the run rate steadily climbed with both the batsmen opening up their arms. Dhaniram was the first to fall caught of the bowling of Vikram Gadang for a run-a-ball 20 inclusive of 1 four and six.
Tony Powell joined Kristoff and Tony immediately whacked a couple of boundaries and a six to telegraph his clear intentions. However, a brilliant catch from Senators skipper Prasad Tumuluri off a full-blooded Tony Powell drive cut short his stay and he departed for 15 runs of 5 balls. At the other end, Gonsalves was displaying his power and brute force - carting boundaries at will. Again, the never-say-die spirit of the captain Prasad Tumuluri accounted for the scalp of Gonsalves for a well-made 44 of 33 balls. At this stage, the Challengers were comfortably placed at 83 runs off 10 overs and Mukesh Sookhram and wicket-keeper Prasad Mahadeo knocked off the remaining 14 runs with ease in 2 more overs.
Kumar Nandalal was awarded the man-of-the-match for his five wicket haul and the Challengers will play the NY Destroyers tomorrow to decide the winner of Group-A. The Senators with 2 losses today are out of the tournament but they did win the hearts of the fans with their enthusiastic all-round display and their sportsmanship - a testimony to their dedication to the spirit of the game.