Mid-Atlantic Zone finished as undefeated tournament champions at the 2021 USA U19 National Championship behind another half-century from Tournament Most Outstanding Player Sai Mukkamalla, as well as a half-century from Chaitanya Parwal and four wickets from Yasir Mohammad.
Picture credit: Peter Della Penna
By Peter Della Penna in Houston (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna
Mid-Atlantic opening batsman Sai Mukkamalla scored his second consecutive half-century to pilot a successful chase of a target of 172 in a six-wicket win over South West in the final of the 2021 USA U19 National Championship at Prairie View Cricket Complex in Texas. Mukkamalla shared a 48-run second-wicket partnership with Chaitanya Parwal, who also notched a half-century in the win to best the tournament hosts as victory was clinched with 11.3 overs to spare.
The win was set up by an incredibly disciplined bowling effort from Mid-Atlantic after they won the toss and sent South West in to bat first. Rehman Dar continued his incredible form with the bat for South West, top-scoring with 65 off 99 balls, though he received two lives on 6 and 57. But such was the strength of Mid-Atlantic’s collective bowling and fielding effort that the extra chances wound up making little difference in the end. No one else made more than South West captain Ali Sheikh’s 22.
Mid-Atlantic’s spin bowlers were ruthless after entering the fray in the ninth over, first to rein in the run rate before ripping through the South West order for all 10 wickets, beginning with Ahan Bakhare bowled for 12 by Ritwik Behera’s offspin to end a 58-run opening stand with Dar. Yasir Mohammad took the first of his 4 for 35 when he had Pranav Narsetty out for 17, who could not make the most of two extra lives offered when he was on 6. After Aditya Sharma trapped Abhiram Valisammagari lbw for 3, Mohammad struck the crucial blow to dismiss Dar missing a sweep. Mohammad took three catches as well, including two off his own bowling to account for both Sheikh and Tanaf Wasie to hasten the South West slide as they were eventually bowled out for 171 in 46.2 overs.
Mukkamalla and Pranav Rao constructed a 45-run stand to begin the reply. Sheikh tried to energize his side by claiming the scalps of both Rao and Mukkamalla for 18 and 53 respectively, but by that stage more than half the runs had been knocked off. Dar’s part-time spin had Mohammad caught at slip for 2, but another solid stand between Parwal and Ishan Sharma added 45 runs before Parwal fell with 23 required. Sharma and Behera knocked off the remaining runs with little fuss.
While Dar was named the tournament’s Best Batsman for ending with a tournament best 317 runs at an average of 105.67, Mukkamalla was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player based on the 3-2-1 points system utilizing Man of the Match performances throughout the tournament. The Mid-Atlantic opener ended with 254 runs at an average of 63.50.
In the third-place match, another brilliant middle-order batting display from Skanda Rohit Sharma rescued West Zone Reds to clinch a dramatic three-wicket win over South Zone. Chasing a target of 213, Reds were 111 for 7 before Skanda and Adil Shivakumar added 104 in an unbroken eighth wicket stand to get their team home. Skandar ended unbeaten on 90 off 94 balls with eight boundaries in his knock as victory was secured with eight balls to spare. Skanda ended with the tournament’s best average, scoring 267 runs at an average of 133.50 having only been dismissed twice in his four innings.
The challenging target for Reds was set up by solid contributions from South No. 4 batsman Aryan Shah, who top-scored with 53 off 101 balls, as well as a stirring late cameo from Aditya Gupta who belted 43 off 22 balls including three sixes in a row off Rohan Posanipally during one dramatic sequence. Posanipally eventually got his revenge dismissing Gupta on the boundary caught by Skanda. Ajay Immadi finished with 3 for 9 in six overs while Sanjay Krishnamurthi took figures of 2 for 23 in 10 overs to end with nine wickets overall at the tournament, earning him the Best Bowler Award at the closing ceremony. For anyone who bowled more than one over per game, Krishnmurthi also ended with a tournament best 1.92 economy rate – the only qualified bowler to end with an economy rate under 2.5 – and also a tournament best average of 7.44.
Colts spinner Gautham Ravindran took tournament-best match figures of 6 for 4 in a remarkable spell that knocked over East Zone for 54 in a 9-wicket mauling in the fifth place match. That included three wickets in an over in the 22nd
, just missing out on a hat-trick. After losing Aman Rao early in the chase, Arjun Vajjala and Manav Nayak produced an unbeaten 49-run partnership to clinch victory in the 14th
In the seventh place game, West Zone Blues chased down a target of 225 with 27 balls to spare in a two-wicket win. Midwest’s best batting performance of the tournament began with a 72-run partnership between Kevin Phillip (38 off 54 balls with seven fours) and Bhavya Mehta (43 off 77 balls with four fours). Parth Patel top-scored with 70 off 81 balls at No. 5, Midwest’s first half-century of the tournament to ensure the foundation did not go to waste, though Midwest’s next best partnership was just 36 as Parth lost partners at regular intervals until he was eighth man out to left-arm medium pacer Ayan Desai. Offspinner Aakashveer Saini took 3 for 30 in 10 overs to trouble Midwest.
Rayaan Bhagani top-scored with 69 off 65 balls for Blues in the chase including six fours and a six coming in at No. 3. They were 164 for 8, but an unbeaten 61-run ninth-wicket stand between Siddharth Menon (36* off 73 balls, two fours) and Aksha Shah (28 off 38 balls, three fours) got Blues to their first win of the tournament. Legspinner Tejas Visal ended with 3 for 64 in a losing effort.