The 2019-20 New Inning Foundation Individual Performance of the Year belongs to fast bowler Ali Khan for his 5 for 46 against Namibia at 2019 WCL Division Two in Namibia, a performance which helped propel USA to ODI status.
Picture credit: Peter Della Penna
By Peter Della Penna (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna
After a three-year hiatus, DreamCricket.com is celebrating the return of the New Inning Foundation USA Cricket Awards, which recognize USA’s standout performers at the international level. This edition of the awards will encompass performances in the 12-month span from March 2019 on USA's tour of the UAE through February 2020 during the ODI tri-series in Nepal, USA's final tour before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The first player recognized is the recipient of the New Inning Foundation USA Individual Performance of the Year for 2019-20. That honor goes to Ali Khan, whose singular brilliance spearheaded USA’s bowling attack at 2019 WCL Division Two in Namibia. But one match in particular shone above all others: Khan’s 5 for 46 in USA’s two-run win over Namibia on the second day of the tournament.
Defending a total of 248, Khan struck twice with the new ball to remove openers Stephan Baard and JP Kotze for 5 and 0 respectively. The value of Kotze’s wicket would become much more apparent later in that tournament when he flayed Hong Kong’s bowling unit for 148 off 86 balls later in round-robin play, as well as dominating USA’s bowling unit – absent Khan – several months later in Florida when he smashed 136 off 109 balls for Namibia’s first ODI century.
Namibia’s middle order steadied the chase and looked to be odds-on favorites to close out a win, entering the 49th
over needing 14 off 12 balls with four wickets in hand. It was then that Khan bowled one of the most thrilling overs in the history of the World Cricket League.
Khan started the penultimate over trapping Christi Viljoen lbw with a full length delivery. After conceding a boundary to Jan Frylinck which reduced the target to seven off eight balls, Khan composed himself and speared in another yorker to bowl Frylinck. On the final ball of the over, Khan made it two in two balls when Bernard Scholtz miscued a drive to extra cover to complete Khan’s five-wicket haul, turning the tables on Namibia to put USA one wicket away from victory.
USA clinched victory in the final over courtesy of a hectic sequence that ended in captain Saurabh Netravalkar running out last man Zhivago Groenewald. Propelled by the momentum from that incredible victory, USA secured ODI status later in the week thanks to further wins over Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong.
With the performance, Khan became just the 16th
bowler in USA’s 50-over cricket history beginning at the 1979 ICC Trophy (World Cup Qualifier) to take a five-wicket haul. In recognition of his achievement, Khan will receive a plaque as well as a $500 DreamCricket.com Pavilion Shop gift card sponsored by New Inning Foundation.