Ritwik Behera scored the first century on the week by a USA U19 player during the Blues v Reds intrasquad trial matches being held in Morgan Hill, California.
Image credit: Peter Della Penna
By Peter Della Penna in San Jose (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna
Mid-Atlantic Region batsman Ritwik Behera continued his fine form from the USA Cricket U19 National Championships in April by notching 104 off 133 balls on Wednesday at Morgan Hill Outdoor Sports Complex, but his USA U19 Blues side ultimately fell short by four runs chasing a target of 193. Behera smacked eight fours and four sixes in his knock, including a straight drive that sailed over the long-off boundary to bring up his ton, but his attempt to drag his side over the line was thwarted by Sanjay Krishnamurthi, who ran out Behera trying to pinch a tight second run off a misfield at extra cover in the penultimate over of the chase.
USA U19 Reds were sent in at the toss by the Blues and struggled against the new ball as left-arm medium pacer Hisham Ali claimed both openers in the first three overs. Sai Mukkamalla fell for a golden duck edging to Gautham Ravindran at gully in the first before Rahul Jariwala was bowled for 2 playing across the line to a good length ball that kept a touch low.
Krishnamurthi and Ishan Sharma dug in to repel Ali and the Reds spinners over the course of the next 90 minutes of play, ultimately constructing a 128-run partnership. Krishnamurthi clubbed four fours and four sixes in his 71 off 73 balls, though both he and Ishan benefitted from some sloppy fielding. Just three balls after reaching his half-century, Krishnamurthi was dropped on 51 over the boundary at deep midwicket for what turned into his third six. Ishan was also caught twice on the boundary, on 18 and 47, for what turned into a pair of sixes when the fielder fell over the line upon completing the catch in both instances.
After their century stand, a trio of wickets fell in the space of five balls to disrupt the Reds momentum. Krishnamurthi was fooled on a change of pace from Soorya Selvakumar and shoveled a simple catch to Ali Sheikh at extra cover. Three balls later, Ishan slogged legspinner Ravindran to Ajay Immadi at long-on to depart for 55. Skanda Rohit Sharma then edged behind an attempted cut next ball to fall for 4. Though Rishi Ramesh survived the hat-trick ball, he departed a few overs later at the start of Hisham Ali’s second spell, slicing to Behera at gully for a nine-ball duck. The Reds had a hat-trick ball on offer for the second time in the space of a few overs when Abhiram Bolisetty fell next ball playing down the wrong line to be trapped on the crease, giving Ali his fourth wicket to make the score 145 for 7.
Rohan Posanipally drove two boundaries off Ali’s next over, then whacked a straight six off Ravindran in the 32nd
but the legspinner got his revenge with a fuller delivery that Posanipally played across the line to and was given lbw for 14 to make it 160 for 8. Kanish Bhalla made a valuable 24 not out batting with the tail to stretch out the Reds innings but they were eventually bowled out in 42 overs for 192. Elton Tucker Jr played around a quicker ball from Ali Sheikh to be trapped in front for 10 in the 40th
before Tejas Visal was run out by a spectacular piece of athleticism from Ali Sheikh off his own bowling, fielding in midwicket and firing at the non-striker’s stumps for the last wicket with Visal drifting out of his crease in a moment of miscommunication with Bhalla.
Hisham Ali finished with 4 for 40 off his 10 overs, bowling a grueling seven-over second spell in the stifling northern California valley heat as he searched desperately but in vain for a fifth wicket during his final five overs. Ravindran took 3 for 32 in seven overs with two maidens while Sheikh (1 for 28 in seven) and Selvakumar (1 for 24 in three) were the other wicket-takers. Abhiram Valisammagari (0 for 20 in six) was the most economical bowler on the day for the Blues.
Rehman Dar and Mohamed Shaw got the Blues chase going in methodical fashion, adding 27 for the first wicket across six-plus overs before both fell in the space of five balls to make it 27 for 2 in the 8th
. Left-arm medium pacer Laksh Parikh claimed Shaw with a loose drive to Aakashveer Saini at mid-off for 11 before Dar was late on a flick to Bolisetty’s medium pace and given lbw for 12. Rohan Phadke fell for a 12-ball duck in identical circumstances to Bolisetty as the North Carolina medium pacer caused plenty of problems bowling with the wind at his back, ending his opening spell with figures of 2 for 9 in six overs with two maidens. Reds batsmen only scored off four of his first 36 legal balls with an edged boundary scored by Shaw plus three singles and two wides producing the runs scored off him.
Behera entered and survived a difficult early chance on 2 when Krishnamurthi’s left-arm spin induced a fierce pull shot that burst through Bhalla’s hands reaching above his head inside the ring. Meanwhile, wickets continued to fall at the opposite end. Yasir Mohammad was runout trying to pinch a third run on a drive by Behera to wide long-off but a relay from Krishnamurthi to Jariwala at the striker’s end sent him off. Posanipally then struck twice in the 24th
as Jariwala’s presence was felt once more with a spectacular diving catch to his left to claim an edge off of Ali Sheikh for 6 before Posanipally yorked Ajay Immadi next ball for a golden duck to make it 72 for 6.
Behera chugged along though with Mihir Cherukupalli as the pair added 110 for the seventh wicket to bring life back into the Blues innings. Cherukupalli was circumspect for a large chunk of his innings, scoring 4 off his first 24 balls and not hitting his first boundary until his 49th
delivery. Behera continued to supply the power at the opposite end and benefited once more from poor fielding. Moments after reaching his half-century off 71 balls, he was spilled on 52 at long-on off Tucker Jr’s second ball of the match in the 34th
, turning a catch into a boundary. With the required run rate finally moving above a run a ball in the waning moments of the chase, Behera survived a missed runout chance from Krishnamurthi at extra cover on 93.
Cherukupalli also experienced his share of good fortune. Charging Krishnamurthi’s spin in the 46th
, Jariwala fumbled a straightforward stumping chance on 26. In the following over bowled by Posanipalli, Krishnamurthi once again missed a free shot at the stumps with Cherukupalli on 28.
Behera finally raised his century with a six over long-off in the 48th
over, a shot that brought the equation down to 16 off 14 balls. But Posanipally and Bolisetty otherwise bowled marvelously at the death to heap pressure on the pair despite their partnership in progress having passed 100 runs. Posanipally bowled three consecutive dots to Behera in the 49th
before a loose drive was lofted toward Krishnamurthi at extra cover, who dove forward trying to convert the shot into a chance before it short-hopped him and ricocheted into the outfield off his body. Behera completed an easy single before gambling on a second off the misfield but Krishnamurthi recovered in plenty of time to relay to Jariwala at the striker’s end, who took the bails off with Behera well short.
Left with 11 runs to defend off the final over, Bolisetty conceded a boundary off the first ball before settling down to bowl three dots across the next four balls. With six needed to win off the final ball, Hisham Ali swung through a delivery and scampered a bye to end the match.
Bolisetty and Posanipally ended with 2 for 34 and 2 for 28 respectively in 10 overs. Parikh was the only other wicket-taker ending with 1 for 35 in 10 overs. Krishnamurthi was luckless with several missed chances off his bowling to end with 0 for 32 in 10 overs while Visal bowled a quietly impressive spell of legspin to end with 0 for 19 in five overs.
Due to the oppressive heat reaching 100F in Morgan Hill, national team officials decided to change Thursday’s scheduled 50-over match into a T20 with a forecasted high temperature of 103F.
The Blues once again fell on Thursday, bowled out for 78 after choosing to bat first at the toss in an eventual seven-wicket defeat. Posanipally was a handful once again, finishing with 4 for 16 in his four overs as nobody in the Blues top six reached double-figures as their side struggled mightily at 23 for 6 in the 12th
over. Batting at No. 7, Shaw top-scored with 26 off 28 balls before he was out hit wicket to Tucker Jr. Valisammagari was the only other player in the Blues side to cross into double-digits, ending with 21 off 11 balls before he was bowled by Posanipally in the final over.
In reply, Jariwala peppered the leg side boundary in a ferocious blitz to score 50 off 29 balls including seven fours and two sixes before he was dismissed by Ajay Immadi’s offspin, missing a sweep to be given lbw. Immadi later bowled Posanipally to end with figures of 2 for 25. Reds captain Sai Mukkamalla retired after three overs to give others a chance to bat. Rishi Ramesh was the only other player to get out, the second hit wicket dismissal of the match this time to Yasir Mohammad. Skanda Rohit Sharma ended the match unbeaten on 14 off 29 balls.
The USA U19 training squad has an off day on Friday before both sides resume their match play on Saturday against Minor League Cricket franchise sides Bay Area Blazers and Golden State Grizzlies. The Grizzlies will host the Blues at Santa Clara while the Blazers will face the Reds in Morgan Hill.