Another pair of centuries were reached on day three of the 2021 USA Cricket U19 National Championship as South West opener Rehman Dar and Colts captain Slade van Staden both crossed into triple-figures in victories for their respective sides on Wednesday in Texas.
Picture credit: Peter Della Penna
By Peter Della Penna in Houston (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna
South West opener Rehman Dar notched the highest score of the 2021 USA Cricket U19 National Championship on Wednesday at Prairie View Cricket Complex, belting 148 off 146 balls with 19 fours in his side’s 138-run win over East in Prairie View, Texas. Two fields away, Colts captain Slade van Staden cruised to 120 off 124 balls, including 11 fours and three sixes, to help his side defeat West Zone Blues by 167 runs on DLS Method. In the day’s other match, West Zone Reds captain Sanjay Krishnamurthi took 4 for 11 in 6.5 overs of biting left-arm spin to help bowl out Midwest for 100, a total that was chased down with 28.3 overs to spare in a seven-wicket win for Reds.
South West experienced a brief hiccup after winning the toss and choosing to bat first when Ahan Bakhare was bowled without playing a shot for 12 by James Samuel. But for much of the next three hours, East’s fielders were chasing leather thanks to Dar’s relentless assault. He added 72 for the second wicket with Pranav Narsetty before cultivating a mammoth 174-run third wicket stand with captain Ali Sheikh. Dar was especially solid square of the wicket, routinely flicking off his pads through midwicket and square leg when the lines were too straight, and cutting confidently when the bowlers dropped too short. He offered a chance on 143, driving to extra cover, but otherwise Dar was ruthlessly clinical. His partnership with Sheikh finally came to an end when he missed a slog sweep to Safwan Ahmed’s spin and was bowled.
Sheikh continued on for his second half-century of the event, following up his first-day 59 with another 56 against East before he fell a short time after Dar, dismissed by new ball bowler Vishalpranay Idapalapati who struck after being brought back on at the death. Wicketkeeper Mihir Cherukupalli scored a rapid 35 off 23 balls to take South West before he fell on the final ball of the innings as the tournament hosts ended on 342 for 6. Safwan ended with the best figures for East, claiming 2 for 66 in 10 overs.
Captain Sheikh brought himself on inside the Powerplay and struck twice in the sixth over, then again in the eighth to make it 26 for 3 and when left-arm medium pacer Laksh Parikh struck three balls later to make it 27 for 4, it put East in a hole that was too big to dig out of. Rahi Bhatia and Taahaa Warraich added 107 for the fifth wicket in a methodical partnership that spanned 26.2 overs before Bhatia was bowled two short of a half-century by the left-arm pace of Soorya Selvakumar. Warraich carried on to top score with 84 off 108 balls, including eight fours and a six, before he was ninth man out to end the 47th
over for the last of Parikh’s three wickets. East were eventually bowled out with one ball remaining for 204. Sheikh ended with 3 for 29 in his 10 overs while Parikh returned 3 for 38 in his 10.
Colts received in early jolt from Blues in their encounter when Varad Kulkarni was trapped lbw for a golden duck to start the second over at 1 for 1. But van Staden responded in measured fashion, slowly seeing off the new ball and easing his way into his innings. He teamed with Rishi Shimpi for a 121-run partnership, scoring at a touch above 4.5 an over during their 26.4 overs together at the crease. Shimpi fell for 40 off 85 balls pushing away from his body to edge Yashahwi Gautom behind.
Van Staden then produced sizable partnership, this time putting up 95 for the third wicket at a much brisker pace alongside Rishi Ramesh, who made 46 off 48 balls before he was bowled by Sahil Kancherla’s offspin. Van Staden pushed a single down the ground a short time later to bring up his century and was eventually dismissed trying to up the run rate with wickets in hand, slog sweeping Kancherla to short midwicket on the last ball of the 44th
over. By that stage, Colts were in a dominant position and some late power-hitting from Aarnav Iyer (21* off 15), Nihal Desai (15 off 7), Aman Rao (24 off 15) and Gautham Ravindran (10* off 6) took Colts to a final total of 310 for 6.
After a brief shower disrupted the start of the chase, Blues were set a revised 48-over target of 303 to win, but never seriously threatened. Left-arm quick Hisham Ali struck twice with the new ball to make it 17 for 2 in the fifth and Blues rapidly declined to 77 for 7 before a fighting 56-run stand between Andrew Daluwatte and Aksha Shah brought some respectability back to the innings. Offspinner Pratham Kataria finally hastened a finish to the match, claiming Aksha for 21 and Daluwatte for 48 before winning an lbw appeal on tailender Aakashveer Saini to end with figures of 3 for 5 as Blues were eventually bowled out for 135 in 35 overs.
Midwest attempted to make a positive decision at the toss by choosing to bat first, but they were overmatched by a dominant bowling display from Reds led by their captain Krishnamurthi. Extras wound up top-scoring in the Midwest innings with 19 while four batsmen reached double-figures but none could do better than the 17 made by both legspinning allrounder Kevin Phillip at the top of the order and Tejas Vishal in the middle. Krishnamurthi dismissed Phillip in the 14th
over during his initial spell before coming back later to wipe out the tail for his final three wickets as Midwest’s innings lasted just 35.5 overs.
Opening batsman Kanish Bhalla top-scored with 37, including a 58-run opening stand with Rajat Sood, before he was bowled by offspinner Parth Patel to cap a brief collapse of 3 for 7 to make it 65 for 3. Rahul Jariwala and Skanda Rohit Sharma knocked off remaining runs to reach the target as Skanda clinched victory with his fifth boundary flicked through wide long-on to end on 24 not out off 17 balls while Jariwala remained unbeaten on 11.
Play resumes on Thursday with just one match scheduled as the winless West Zone Blues take on undefeated Mid Atlantic. A win for Mid Atlantic would clinch the top spot in Group A and a berth in the tournament final against the winner of the Group B contest between undefeated South West and West Zone Reds on Friday.