By DreamCricket Staff
Photo credit: Peter Della Penna
USA's wider squad has spent the last three weeks training at Woodley Park in Los Angeles in competition to make the final 14-man squad for the tour of Bermuda for the next round of 2020 T20 World Cup Qualifying.
Monank Patel, Nisarg Patel and Steven Taylor were the standout batting performers in USA’s three-week squad training camp at Woodley Park in Los Angeles as the trio were the only ones to make half-centuries during the set of three intrasquad trial matches which occurred on July 30, August 6 and August 7.
Nisarg was the first of the group to pass 50 in the opening encounter on July 30. Having been dropped from the USA squad following WCL Division Three in Oman, Nisarg pressed his selection claims with a terrific all-round display, top-scoring with an unbeaten 72 off 52 balls after entering at No. 4 in Team Red’s total of 147 for 8. Nisarg was one of just two players to cross double-figures in the innings, the other being opening batsman Xavier Marshall who made 31 off 25 balls. Nisarg showed shrewd responsibility in being able to shepherd the tail as well, scoring the bulk of the runs in a 51-run eighth-wicket stand with Saurabh Netravalkar after Team Red had been reduced to 90 for 7 after 14 overs.
In reply, Team Blue finished on 135 for 9. Nisarg starred with the ball as well, claiming innings-best figures of 2 for 12 off four overs. Monank top-scored in Team Blue’s chase with 35 off 35 balls opening the batting. Team Blue’s next best contribution came from Rusty Theron, who made 18 off 8 balls. It came after Theron claimed 2 for 18 in three overs including a maiden in the field for Team Blue.
Monank and Taylor had dueling half-centuries in the second intrasquad match at Woodley on August 6. Batting for Team Red on this occasion, Monank made 79 off 47 balls opening the batting in a total of 155 for 8. After Theron had claimed Xavier Marshall for 2 in the third over, Monank added 76 for the second wicket with Aaron Jones, who finished with the next-best score in the innings making 23 off 26 balls. Timroy Allen starred for Team Blue with the ball, taking 3 for 22 in four overs, including the wickets of Akshay Homraj, Cameron Gannon and Elmore Hutchinson at the death. Allen conceded just five runs in the 20th
over, in which he claimed the wickets of the latter two before a last ball runout thanks to a relay from Nisarg to Jaskaran Malhotra.
Taylor then piloted a successful chase for Team Blue, striking an unbeaten 53 off 37 balls as Team Blue secured a seven-wicket win with two overs to spare. Malhotra got the chase going with 47 off 30 balls at the top of the innings, dominating a 61-run opening stand with Sagar Patel, before Taylor entered at No. 3 and steered Team Blue the rest of the way. Nisarg made 20 off 17 balls while Allen helped Taylor seal victory to complete a solid all-round day with 17 not out off 13 balls.
In the final intrasquad match on August 7, the new-ball pair of Gannon and Jessy Singh helped Team Blue bowl out Team Red for 88 in 19 overs. Jessy was on a hat-trick in the third over after dismissing Marshall and Taylor on back-to-back balls and ended with 2 for 9 in three overs with a maiden while Gannon, a 30-year-old Queensland state cricketer and Brisbane Heat representative who holds a US passport, claimed Jaskaran Malhotra for 23 and Monank Patel for a third-ball duck in his 2 for 19 off four overs. Usman Rafiq, who hasn’t played for USA since February 2018, and Jones took 2 for 3 and 2 for 1 respectively bowling spin to help wipe out the tail.
Jones then led Team Red to a successful chase with 41 not out off 43 balls to secure victory with 17 balls to spare. Allen and Karima Gore were the only wicket-takers in the innings, claiming 1 for 15 in three overs and 1 for 16 in four overs respectively.
Monank and Nisarg were the only two players to cross 100 runs collectively in the intrasquad matches. Monank ended with 114 runs in three innings while Nisarg made 101 runs, though he was only dismissed once. Allen and Theron were the joint-leading wicket-takers in the camp with five each. Allen’s wickets came at an average of 10.40 and an economy of 5.78 while Theron claimed his at an average of 12.20 and economy of 6.78.
USA Cricket is expected to announce a final 14-man squad for the tour of Bermuda in the coming days. USA’s first match at the Americas Final of the T20 World Cup Qualifier is against hosts Bermuda on August 18. The top two teams at the four-team double-round robin event – USA will also play Cayman Islands and Canada – advance to the 2019 T20 World Cup Qualifier in the UAE beginning on October 11.