Jaskaran Malhotra joined Herschelle Gibbs as the only two players to hit six sixes in an over in ODI cricket as part of making USA's first ever century in ODI cricket during a 134-run win over Papua New Guinea.
File photo credit: Peter Della Penna
By Peter Della Penna (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna
Trivia question time: who was the first USA player to score an ODI century? And who was the first Associate player to hit six sixes in an over in ODI cricket? Jaskaran Malhotra will forever after be the answer to both on a historic day at Al Amerat Cricket Ground in Muscat, Oman as the USA batsman powered his way to 173 not out off 124 balls, including 36 runs off the 50th
over against Papua New Guinea medium pacer Gaudi Toka to set up a 134-run victory, completing a two-match sweep of the ODI series against PNG.
Malhotra finished one short of tying Eoin Morgan’s ODI record for most sixes (17) in an ODI innings. But he still managed to join Herschelle Gibbs as the only two players to hit six sixes in an over in ODI cricket (Gibbs’ landmark coming against Netherlands at the 2007 World Cup) as well as Yuvraj Singh and Kieron Pollard in T20 International cricket, the only four times it has been achieved by men in senior internationals.
PNG won the toss and chose to field first as USA made two changes to their XI. Vice-captain Aaron Jones recovered sufficiently from a hand injury to replace Gajanand Singh in the middle order while 20-year-old left-arm medium pacer Abhishek Paradkar was handed an ODI debut cap in place of fellow left-armer Elmore Hutchinson.
The match was a see-saw contest early on as Steven Taylor got USA off to a hot start in the early over with a pair of boundaries off Nosaina Pokana before momentum stalled when a Taylor straight drive was deflected onto the stumps by Damien Ravu with opening partner Sushant Modani straying out of his crease at the non-striker’s end to be run out for 7. Pokana trapped Monank Patel on leg stump with an inswinging yorker to win an lbw appeal three overs later before Taylor was squared up by a length ball from Chad Soper that seamed away to clip the top of off stump as Taylor walked off for 17 at 29 for 3 in the 10th
Malhotra arrived at No. 5 and rode his luck from the start while Soper had the misfortune of three chances put down off his bowling, including two off Malhotra. The first came in the 12th
over when he was on 2 and heaved a length ball to Lega Siaka at midwicket in the ring, who couldn’t cling on. Jones was dropped on 7 off Soper’s next over at backward point by CJ Amini fielding very tight at backward point.
In a chaotic sequence in the 20th
over, three chances were offered by USA but only one converted. Jones ran himself out on 22 after pushing Ravu into the covers and taking on Amini charging forward from backward point, who fielded and fired a direct hit to the non-striker’s stumps with Jones a half yard short to make it 72 for 4. Two balls later, Nisarg Patel survived a runout chance before he had even faced a ball when he strayed too far out of the non-striker’s crease on another block into the covers as Amini’s throw bounced over the top of the stumps. One ball later, Malhotra was on 20 when he hooked a Ravu bouncer to deep square leg where Siaka spilled by far the easiest chance of the day perfectly positioned three yards inside the rope.
Malhotra continued to make the use of his extra lives, taking on PNG captain Assad Vala with a pair of slog sweeps for six over midwicket in the 28th
over to bring up a 48-ball half-century. After 14 overs out of the attack, Soper returned in the 33rd
and should have had Malhotra on 62 with the fourth ball of the over when he induced a false drive to Toka at long-on, who grassed another straightforward chance. Amini felt the brunt of that drop in the immediate term as Malhotra slog swept him for a pair of sixes over midwicket again in the 34th
over to move to 76, the latter of which sparked the second drinks break due to the lengthy delay required to locate the ball.
The 69-run partnership with Nisarg finally camae to an end when Nisarg chipped a length ball from Ravu to Tony Ura on the ring at mid-on to depart for 20. Karima Gore lasted just seven balls before he was trapped on the crease playing back to Ravu and given lbw to make it 164 for 6. Nosthush Kenjige then fell attempting to repeat a switch hit over backward point and picked out Siaka on the deep third man rope for 6 before debutant Paradkar was bowled for 2 playing around a full length delivery from Soper to make it 186 for 8 after 42 overs.
For a few nervy moments, it looked like Malhotra might be stranded in the 90s while running out of partners as he crawled through the 90s by nudging singles. But he finally brought up three figures with a single to the cover sweeper at the start of the 45th
over, etching his name in the USA record books as the first to reach the landmark in official ODI play.
With the burden of history off his shoulders, Malhotra once again started to open up and attack, carting Pokana for his eighth six in the 46th
over. Two more boundaries came early in the 47th
off Ravu before Malhotra was dropped for a fourth time as he got too far under an attempted scoop over fine leg and produced an opportunity for Pokana to catch him on the ring for 118, but the left-arm seamer spilled a difficult chance leaping up while backpedaling from the 30-yard circle and it allowed Malhotra to continue on with his rampage.
Jessy Singh fell trying to slog over midwicket in the 48th
to Pokana, leaving captain Saurabh Netravalkar 17 balls to survive and support Malhotra. He blocked out the last ball of the over before Malhotra again teed off for six again in the 49th
off Ravu. A series of singles through the rest of the over kept Malhotra on strike for the start of the 50th
as Toka was handed the ball.
A trio of half-volleys outside off were dispatched over long-on, extra cover and long-off to begin the over. Toka then changed his angle to come around the stumps but did little to disrupt Malhotra, who clubbed him over wide long-on for his fourth six in a row. Returning over the stumps for the fifth ball of the over, Malhotra drove him over long-off once more. Malhotra then etched his name in the history books for the second time in less than an hour by heaving a waist high full toss off the final ball of the innings high over square leg, wrapping up a burst of 73 runs off his final 22 deliveries before walking off to huge applause from the USA dugout.
The unbroken 10th
wicket partnership of 55 with Netravalkar – in which the captain contributed 1 run) set a new USA record in 50-over cricket, breaking the previous mark of 51 by Durale Forrest and Muhammad Ghous on the final day of 2011 ICC WCL Division Three against Denmark in Hong Kong. USA spiraled to a loss that confirmed a last place finish and relegation back to Division Four on that day, but Malhotra singlehandedly defeated PNG in Muscat as the chase floundered before the Barramundis were bowled out for 137.
Malhotra’s mark is the second highest in USA’s 50-over history, putting him behind only former USA captain Sushil Nadkarni, who made 197 off 132 balls against Suriname at Lauderhill during 2008 ICC Americas Division One in Florida, an innings which featured 22 fours and nine sixes. Malhotra did however eclipse the mark for most sixes in a USA 50-over innings, beating the 12 stroked by Steven Taylor against Nepal in Bermuda during his 162 off 102 balls at 2013 ICC WCL Division Three. He also broke AB de Villiers’ record for the highest score made at No. 5 in ODI cricket. His percentage of runs in a completed team innings (63.8%) was also good for fifth all time in ODIs (behind Tony Ura for PNG (151 out of 235) against Ireland at the 2018 World Cup Qualifier, Rohit Sharma for India (264 out of 404) against Sri Lanka in 2014, Kapil Dev for India (175* out of 266) against Zimbabwe at the 1983 World Cup, and Viv Richards for West Indies (189* out of 272) against England in 1984).
PNG never seriously threatened to chase the total, slipping to 24 for 2 in the first five overs before Paradkar struck for the first time in the 10th
, getting Siaka for a joint top-score of 30 to make it 47 for 3. USA’s trio of spinners whittled away at the middle order before Paradkar returned to wipe out the tail for his next three wickets. Captain Netravalkar denied him a chance at a five-wicket haul on debut by removing Norman Vanua for the final wicket, bowled for 30 after some lusty hitting to make the scorecard look slightly more respectable for PNG as they ended all out for 137 in 37.1 overs.
Paradkar finished with 4 for 26 in nine overs including two maidens. Netravalkar claimed 2 for 19 in 7.1 overs. Taylor took 1 for 11 in five overs of offspin. Gore and Nisarg took 1 for 14 and 1 for 16 in four and three overs respectively. Singh’s new-ball spell was expensive ending with 1 for 24. Kenjige was the only bowler to go wicketless for USA, ending with 0 for 20 in six overs.
USA now has three days off before opening up the CWC League Two tri-series against Nepal on Monday, September 13. That match will be a day/night contest starting at 2:30 pm local time in Muscat, 6:30 am EST in the USA.