17-year-old Rahul Jariwala gave a simple yet stoic raise of the bat after notching his second century of the tournament at the 2021 USA Cricket Men's 50-over National Championships in Texas.
Image credit: Peter Della Penna
By Peter Della Penna in Houston (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna
Teenage phenom Rahul Jariwala showed the USA U19 squad is more than capable of standing toe-to-toe with the veterans of the American cricket scene as the 17-year-old produced two centuries in the space of four days to highlight the group stage of the 2021 USA Men’s 50-over National Championship at Prairie View Cricket Complex in Prairie View, Texas. Jariwala’s opening day 116 off 93 balls sparked the USA U19 squad to a 36-run win over Mid Atlantic.
But his 111 off 97 balls on day three of group play against South Zone was ultimately in vain as the USA U19 squad fell short by 44 runs. The victory by South put them atop Group A with a 2-1 record, just a shade ahead of West Zone Blues on net run rate, to clinch a spot in the championship match where they will take on the undefeated West Zone Reds from Group B. It marked the second time in group play that a team which featured both a century-maker and a bowler with a five-wicket haul wound up on the losing side as USA U19 captain Ali Sheikh took 5 for 41 with his left-arm spin earlier in the match.
South Zone’s path to the final has been propelled by captain Aaron Jones, who scored a half-century in the win over USA U19s, his second of the tournament. Hanchard Hamilton also scored a key 94 in the win over Colts while Steven Taylor contributed a typically bruising 71 on day one.
The Blues had a chance to secure a spot in the final chasing a target of 232 against Mid Atlantic. Captain Nisarg Patel scored 57 off 89 balls and Marty Kain struck 99 off 123 balls – his second half-century of the event – to keep the Blues in the hunt. But Kain was bowled attempting a reverse sweep off legspinner Raymond Ramrattan just one short of a century and became the ninth wicket to fall. With 29 needed off 15 balls, the last wicket pair was unable to get the Blues much closer as a runout ended play to secure a 22-run win for Mid Atlantic.
Ex-Pakistan international Saad Ali’s 92 ensured he finished group play as the leading scorer in Texas with 241 runs in three innings to go along with an opening day century in a win over East. But Sushant Modani’s own unbeaten century was enough for Southwest on the final day of group play to ensure a 15-run win and a second place finish in Group B. Southwest will play the Blues in the third place playoff as a result. Aside from Ali’s run scoring prowess, Obus Pienaar also produced a century for Midwest on day one as part of a 229-run partnership alongside Ali to help them defeat East. Southwest allrounder Willem Ludick scored 84 in the win over Midwest on Thursday including a 142-run partnership with Modani to put Southwest into a winning position. In Southwest’s previous match, a 71-run win over East Zone, captain Nosthush Kenjige starred with an unbeaten 85 off 90 balls before taking 3 for 21 in 10 overs of left-arm spin.
West Zone Red’s path to the final has been a combined team effort with Josh Dascombe, Vatsal Vaghela and Shehan Jayasuriya all stepping up at various stages of group play to score half-centuries in winning efforts. On the flip side, East Zone has gone winless despite some standout individual performances, including a century from Dominique Rikhi and a six-wicket haul from Bhaskar Yadram which both came in the opening day loss to Midwest.
The tournament concludes on Friday in Texas with the championship match between West Zone Reds and South on the main oval at Prairie View. Southwest and West Zone Blues will contest the third place game while Mid Atlantic and Midwest will square off in the fifth place playoff. East Zone will play the USA U19s in the seventh place playoff.