Photo credit: Peter Della Penna
USA's squad went through their final training session on Thursday morning ahead of their historic maiden home ODI set for Friday against Papua New Guinea as the hosts look to bounce back from last month's disappointing tour of Bermuda.
By Peter Della Penna in Lauderhill, Florida (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna)
Two weeks ago in Bermuda, USA suffered a historic low with their failure to advance beyond the regional round of T20 World Cup Qualifying for the first time ever. But they are wasting no time getting right back on the horse as they have a chance to create some positive history this week in Florida in the Cricket World Cup League Two ODI tri-series against Papua New Guinea and Namibia.
The four matches USA will host beginning on Friday represent the first ever home ODIs on USA soil. A win at any point along the way will also become USA’s first ever victory in ODI cricket. USA has lost all three of their previous ODIs: two at the 2004 Champions Trophy against Australia and New Zealand, and the third place playoff against Papua New Guinea this past April at 2019 WCL Division Two in Namibia.
USA captain Saurabh Netravalkar says USA’s players are well aware of the historic nature of the occasion. The opportunity to register some significant individual milestones in America’s ODI history is helping to fuel the overall team goal of coming out victorious.
“Everybody knows there’s history for the taking,” Netravalkar said following USA’s final training session on Thursday at the Central Broward Regional Park. “The top six guys can be the first guy to score a hundred in the history of USA ODI cricket. You never know, the first five-wicket haul. So it’s historic. Everybody is excited. They know the significance of the moment. But obviously while you’re executing your plans it’s equally important to treat it as just another game and to know your opponent and to execute your plans. The results will come automatically if you follow the process well.”
Though USA’s first ODI century is up for grabs, it will take a revitalized effort after repeated failures in Bermuda. Only one half-century was scored by USA in Bermuda during the tournament at the T20 Regional Finals when Steven Taylor passed fifty against Cayman Islands in a nine-wicket win. Otherwise, USA’s batting largely struggled and Netravalkar says that has been the main area of focus heading into the first ODI as they look to rediscover their solid form from WCL Division Two in Namibia.
“[At Division Two], most of the games our top six batters, at least two of them got good partnerships and we were consistently scoring 250,” Netravalkar said. “The top six batters was the main thing that we didn’t get anybody to get a big score in Bermuda. So we had a chat with the top six and they all know individually as well as a batting unit how they need to work on it. They’ve been training for two weeks and the last four days especially here.”
Aaron Jones has been back in form after top-scoring with 87 off 99 balls in an intrasquad trial match on Tuesday. Jones scored one of USA’s two centuries in Namibia along with Xavier Marshall and USA will be desperate for both to fire in the ODI series, especially with the absence of Hayden Walsh Jr. leaving the middle order thin on depth. Fast bowling spearhead Ali Khan is also absent at the CPL with Walsh Jr. but Netravalkar said Rusty Theron’s addition to the squad gives USA a major boost in experience, especially at the death.
“He looks really geared up to go,” Netravalkar said about Theron. “He’s given it great intensity in training as well and most importantly his experience. He’s been kind of a senior figure for us. He’s played various professional leagues, he’s played for South Africa so his experience is definitely going to be invaluable, the variations that he has in his bowling towards the latter part.”
The first ODI of the tri-series between USA and Papua New Guinea is scheduled to begin at 9:45 a.m. USA's final training session on Thursday morning was interrupted multiple times by rain and showers continued sporadically in the Fort Lauderdale area through the rest of the day. Rain is forecast for the afternoon but there may be a possibility to squeeze in an official match. Dreamcricket will have coverage on site of USA’s matches throughout the tri-series.
USA squad: Saurabh Netravalkar (capt.), Jaskaran Malhotra (wk), Karima Gore, Elmore Hutchinson, Aaron Jones, Nosthush Kenjige, Xavier Marshall, Monank Patel, Nisarg Patel, Sagar Patel, Timil Patel, Jessy Singh, Steven Taylor, Rusty Theron. Reserve - Timroy Allen.
USA tri-series schedule (all matches start at 9:45 a.m. local time)
Friday, Sept. 13 - v Papua New Guinea
Tuesday, Sept. 17 - v Namibia
Thursday, Sept. 19 - v Papua New Guinea
Friday, Sept. 20 - v Namibia