Photo credit: Peter Della Penna
Saurabh Netravalkar claimed a well-deserved Man of the Match award for his probing new ball spell which accounted for three top-order wickets to spur a commanding performance from the entire USA pace bowling unit in a 98-run win over UAE at ICC Academy.
By Peter Della Penna in Dubai (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna)
USA captain Saurabh Netravalkar’s sterling tour with the ball continued today as his new ball spell of 3 for 11 dismantled UAE’s top order, reducing them to 32 for 5 before they crumbled for 115 in a 98-run win for USA at ICC Academy Oval 2 in Dubai on Thursday afternoon. Pace bowling battery mate Cameron Stevenson bowled in tandem with Netravalkar to claim 3 for 22 in a relentless assault from both ends before Ian Holland wiped out the tail with 3 for 11 in a chase that lasted just 33 overs as UAE never came close to overhauling USA’s total of 213.
“Working with James [Pamment], I think we’ve created a good kind of a performance plan where when we are bowling, we bowl in tandem,” Netravalkar said after the win. “We identify who is looking to attack and who is looking to bowl the dot balls. In the start, at times both are attacking but we usually start the over well and end the over well handing over to your partner. So if you bowl your last two balls dot balls and the first two balls dot balls, it hands off the over well to your partner. In the middle phase of your over, that’s a chance to bowl an attacking ball. That has been the ploy so our performance plans have been effective and I’m glad the bowlers are implementing them.”
Netravalkar’s on the money length from throughout the tour led to a wicket in his first over as Chirag Suri edged the captain’s third ball low to Holland for a sharp catch at first slip to make it 9 for 1 in what turned into a wicket maiden. Netravalkar rarely erred in the next two overs as well, conceding just three singles while claiming the scalp of Darius D’Silva, prodding outside off for another edge behind this time to Akshay Homraj to make it 31 for 2.
At the opposite end, Netravalkar was searching for a partner to keep the pressure on. Steven Taylor leaked two boundaries in his lone over to start the chase bowling too short to 17-year-old Vriitya Aravind before Rusty Theron was flicked for a pair of sixes over the leg side in the third and fifth overs by Aravind.
But Netravalkar finally found a solution in the form of Stevenson brought on for the first time in the seventh over. Going short to Aravind, the tall fast bowler from Victoria hustled the teenager for pace and a spliced pull found Netravalkar on the ring at mid-on. Muhammad Usman was pushed onto the back foot with a short ball first up before Stevenson pitched it up second ball to exploit a lack of footwork, bowling Usman for a duck in a double-wicket maiden to make it 31 for 4. In the remaining deliveries of that seventh over, Stevenson pinged Rohan Mustafa on the left arm with a rising ball that required treatment from the physio. Looking in clear discomfort, Mustafa was trapped on the crease on the first ball he faced from Netravalkar in the eighth, playing down the wrong line of a ball that seamed in for a four-ball duck to make it 32 for 5.
CP Rizwan and Basil Hameed added 35 for the sixth wicket to hold USA temporarily at bay. Nosthush Kenjige nearly broke the stand when he induced a false charge from Hameed in 17 but Monank Patel couldn’t hold on to a difficult low chance diving forward from long-off in the 16th. However, Stevenson struck one over later as USA’s aggressive field settings outside of the Powerplay paid off when an edge by Rizwan to back of a length delivery was claimed by Taylor at slip who pulled off a superb leaping effort to his left to dismiss Rizwan for 15.
Another 32 was added by Hameed and Waheed Ahmed for the seventh wicket as UAE desperately tried to stretch the innings out with singles to alleviate the pressure applied by USA’s bowling unit. Kenjige was finally able to dislodge Hameed though for a top score of 38, bowling the right-hander who erred in playing back to a good length ball to make it 99 for 7.
From there, Holland made short work of the tail. Brought on in the 27th, he struck in his second over when he induced a skied pull off a slower bouncer to deep midwicket where Stevenson covered 25 yards to his left before taking a catch sliding on his knees. Ahmed Raza punched back with hard hands on another off speed delivery for a simple return catch three balls into the 33rd for the ninth wicket before yet another slower ball accounted for Zahoor Khan, trapped playing around a full delivery for a successful lbw appeal to end play.
UAE had appeared favorites at the innings break after restricting USA to 213 in 49.5 overs. USA had done reasonably well in the Powerplay after being sent in at the toss, reaching 46 for 1 after 10 overs. Monank Patel was the only wicket to fall in the sequence, bowled playing back to a fullish length delivery from Zahoor for 8 in the sixth over. Taylor struck four boundaries in his run-a-ball 16, but an inability to rotate struck allowed pressure to build. After seven straight dot balls to Mustafa’s offspin, he played a loose drive lofted tamely to long-on for a simple catch by Usman to make it 50 for 2.
Xavier Marshall looked in supreme touch in his 31 off 44 balls, playing a series of simmering straight drives to rack up four boundaries. But he was foxed by a slower ball from D’Silva, whose lbw shout was upheld for his maiden ODI wicket to make it 60 for 3. Holland became D’Silva’s second victim when he cut hard but straight to Mustafa at backward point for 5 to make it 71 for 4 in the 19th.
But as has been his custom since entering the USA squad in October 2018, Aaron Jones rebuilt the innings in a 69-run stand. This time, Homraj was his foil in a sturdy partnership filled with aggressive running between the wickets that produced a series of misfields and overthrows from the UAE. Homraj only struck one boundary, a straight drive to split mid-on and mid-off. Jones hit three fours during the stand, two flicks wide of mid-on while the third was a top-edged pull over the keeper off a no ball.
At 140 for 4 in 32 overs at the second drinks break, USA looked set to push on for a total in excess of 250. But the pause in play disrupted Jones’ rhythm and he fell just one shot away from what would have been his third consecutive ODI fifty. Raza continued to strike the pads in the first over after play resumed and he finally convinced the umpire to uphold an lbw shout on the fifth ball of the 33rd over as Jones missed while playing back deep in his crease to go for 46. Nisarg Patel struggled to get his timing early in his innings and Homraj went cold at the non-striker’s end, eventually bowled for 34 prodding forward to Hameed’s offspin in the 40th over.
Stevenson’s lean tour with the bat continued, given lbw for 3 off Junaid Siddique’s medium pace flicking across the line to a full ball. Theron fell in identical fashion in Siddique’s next over for 5 to make it 189 for 8. But just as Netravalkar did late in USA’s match against Scotland in Sharjah, he kept his cool upon entering at No. 10 to construct a handy 27-run partnership for the ninth wicket with Nisarg. The club teammates at Vijayta CC in Los Angeles worked the ball around for ones and twos throughout the stand to push USA past 200.
Clever death bowling from Zahoor denied USA boundary options though as a steady diet of slower bouncers made it difficult to clear the 80-yard boundary on the leg side to the east. Nisarg was runout for 40 trying to steal a bye off the second ball off the final over when Netravalkar fanned on a slower bouncer. Netravalkar then fell to the same delivery three balls later skying a pull to Hameed at deep square leg to end the USA innings. But the captain’s new ball spell in the chase ensured USA wound up having plenty of runs to defend in the end.
D’Silva ended with UAE’s best bowling figures on the day, claiming 2 for 20 in his seven overs after coming on second change. Zahoor ended with 2 for 47 in 8.5 overs while Siddique was expensive in claiming 2 for 61 off 10. Raza built pressure at one end with his 1 for 26 in 10 while Hameed ended with 1 for 10 in just two overs. Mustafa also bowled a very sharp spell of offspin to end with 1 for 35 in 10, with three of those overs coming at the death in which he conceded just 13 runs.
USA has a day off on Friday before taking on Scotland on Saturday at ICC Academy Oval 2. UAE has two days off before their final match of the tri-series against Scotland on Sunday at ICC Academy.