South West opener Rehman Dar ended the group stage as the leading scorer of the 2021 USA U19 National Championship after his unbeaten 71 clinched a seven-wicket victory over West Zone Reds and a spot in the tournament final against Mid-Atlantic.
Picture credit: Peter Della Penna
By Peter Della Penna in Houston (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna
South West opener Rehman Dar’s sparkling form with the bat at the 2021 USA U19 National Championship continued on Friday against West Zone Reds at Prairie View Cricket Complex in Texas, scoring an unbeaten 71 off 107 balls to anchor a successful chase of Reds’ 173 in a seven-wicket win with 12.4 overs to spare. The victory put the undefeated South West host side into the tournament final for Saturday morning against the undefeated Group A leader Mid-Atlantic. Dar's knock put him back in the tournament scoring lead after the group stage with 252 runs at an average of 126.
The South West win was set up by a solid team bowling effort after Reds won the toss and chose to bat first. Abhiram Valisammagari had opener Aditya Srinivas caught behind in the sixth over for 19 and Reds captain Sanjay Krishnamurthi got bogged down after entering at No. 3, making 9 off 41 balls before being dismissed by the left-arm spin of his opposite number, South West captain Ali Sheikh to make it 57 for 2 in the 18th
Fellow left-arm spinner Josh Saripella claimed Rahul Jariwala for 20 and Shamith Pasula for 9 in a very disciplined spell before Laksh Parikh and Soorya Selvakumar returned to take three more wickets combined to keep the pressure on Reds. Running out of partners to bat with, Skanda Rohit Sharma tried to scoop Sheikh over fine leg but was caught on the ring for 38 to be ninth man out and Valisammagari dismissed Dev Thadani for the last wicket caught at long-on to end the 49th
over, ending with figures of 3 for 38.
Reds pace bowler Rohan Posanipally continued his solid tournament with the ball to give brief hope to Reds in the field when he jolted the reply in the 17th
over, getting Ahan Bakhare out for 29 courtesy of a brilliant one-handed catch behind the wicket by Jariwala before dismissing Pranav Narsetty lbw for a duck. But Dar combined with Tanaf Wasie for a 75-run stand to steady the chase before knocking off the last 37 runs alongside Sheikh, who ended unbeaten on 18. Posanipally ended with 2 for 51 in a losing effort.
In the day’s other games, South Zone rocked Colts by 10 wickets and East beat Midwest by 88 runs. Rohan Phadke had a tremendous all-round match for South, taking 4 for 17 in a superb opening spell after Colts were sent in at the toss on a slighty tacky wicket. His haul included openers Rishi Shimpi and Varad Kulkarni for 4 and 16, Aarnav Iyer for 6 and the prized scalp of captain Slade van Staden for a golden duck after pushing back a gentle return catch on a back of a length ball that held up in the wicket. Spinner Aryan Shah followed Phadke with 4 for 36 before left-arm spinner Elton Tucker Jr cleaned up the tail with 2 for 24 as Colts were bowled out for 108 in 34.2 overs. In reply, Phadke ended 46 not out off 49 balls while fellow opener Heer Patel made 38 not out off 69 balls as part of an unbroken 109-run stand in 19.1 overs that also featured 25 extras.
Midwest suffered from some poor fielding after sending East in at the toss. Legspinner Tejas Visal in particular had six chances put down off his bowling in ending with figures of 0 for 54 while Midwest as a whole missed out on close to a dozen chances as East made 251 for 6. East captain Mohamed Shaw top-scored with 60 at No. 3 while opener Safwan Ahmed made 51 before he was runout. Siddhanth Shah ended with figures of 2 for 64 in the field for Midwest.
Medium pacer Sagar Koul took four wickets in his initial spell to peg back Midwest at 58 for 4 before Mohit Patel helped his side battle back with 49 off 66 balls. He fell one short of what would have been Midwest’s first half-century of the tournament when he tried to loft Safwan’s spin down the ground with the wind at his back but was caught at long-off for the eighth wicket. Koul came back to have Munn Patel caught in the off side ring by Dereck Persaud to end the match to complete the tournament’s first five-wicket haul, ending with figures of 5 for 45 in 10 overs.
Aside from the tournament final, South will play Reds in the third place match on Saturday morning will Colts take on East in the fifth place match. West Zone Blues and Midwest play in the seventh place match with each seeking their first win of the event.