Captain Ali Sheikh shined for the USA U19 Blues while the USA U19 Reds struggled on the opening weekend of the USA U19 national selection trials in Northern California.
Image credit: Peter Della Penna
By Peter Della Penna in San Jose (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna
The USA U19 split squads experienced mixed results against Minor League Cricket franchise competition in a series of 50-over trial matches to kick off a 10-day preparation and selection camp in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Led by captain Ali Sheikh, the USA U19 Blues notched a six-wicket win over the East Bay Blazers on Saturday at Morgan Hill Outdoor Sports Center. Chasing a target of 158, Sheikh and Yasir Mohammad both scored unbeaten 38s as part of a 77-run fifth wicket stand to clinch victory with 31 balls to spare.
After choosing to bowl first, the Blues bowled out the Blazers for 157 in 45.2 overs behind a sharp spin bowling attack fronted by Sheikh, who finished with 2 for 10 in 8.2 overs of left-arm spin. Opening pace bowler Abhiram Valisammagari dismissed David Bunn for 7 and captain Shiva Vashishat for 6 inside the first five overs to make it 17 for 2 before Mario Rampersaud and Josh Dascombe rebuilt the innings with an 89-run third-wicket partnership. Dascombe top-scored with 57 off 65 balls before he was bowled by Yasir Mohammad’s legspin and it sparked a flow of wickets as the spinners did the rest of the damage for the Blues, removing the last eight batsmen for just 41 runs.
Rampersaud fell next for 32 when he was bowled by Sheikh. Gautham Ravindran and Ritwik Behera then came on and wrecked the rest of the middle and lower order, finishing with 2 for 20 in eight overs and 3 for 13 in six overs respectively as nobody else in the Blazers lineup made more than 16 from Srinivas Mohan. Sheikh wrapped up the innings in the 46th
trapping Dev Thadani leg before.
Rehman Dar and Mohamed Shaw constructed a 56-run opening stand in methodical fashion to get the chase started, though both players failed to convert their starts. Shaw fell for 22 off 32 balls missing a flick across the line to medium pacer Aarnav Iyer before Dar fell for 21 off 67, also given lbw to Dascombe’s left-arm spin. Dascombe claimed his second wicket four overs later when Rohan Phadke was dismissed for 7 before Behera slogged Vivek Narayan’s legspin to Bunn at long-off to fall for 8 making it 81 for 4.
But Sheikh and Mohammad were mostly untroubled during their unbroken stand to get the Blues across the line. Both made use of the slog sweep against the spinners, each heaving a pair of sixes over the leg side during their knocks. Dascombe finished with 2 for 27 in his 10 overs for the best figures on the day from the Blazers.
At Wilson High School on Saturday in Santa Clara, the USA U19 Reds were overmatched against Golden State Grizzlies, bowled out for 45 in 20.4 overs in an eventual 10-wicket loss. The match had a 30-minute delayed start to allow time for repairs to be made to the wicket after the pitch was partially vandalized overnight, with visible divots in several areas. The extra time made little difference after Grizzlies captain Saurabh Netravalkar won the toss and sent the USA juniors in to bat first.
The USA captain was merciless in bowling an unbroken 10-over new ball spell, utilizing variable bounce on a two-paced wicket to roll through the Reds top order, ending with figures of 4 for 8 in 10 overs including six maidens. The only boundary he conceded came off an inside edge through fine leg. Otherwise he was borderline untouchable as he claimed four batsmen clean bowled, three of them – Kanish Bhalla, Sanjay Krishnamurthi and Skanda Rohit Sharma – to good length balls that skidded low after the batsmen went onto the back foot. Ishan Sharma was the other victim, bowled by a full length ball that seamed in to beat a forward prod. Krishnamurthi was the only batsman to reach double figures, making 14 off 13 balls that included a boundary through midwicket off a no ball followed by a free hit flicked off his pads over square leg for six.
However, the pitch could not be blamed for every dismissal. Abhiram Bolisetty was clean bowled by Gaurav Patanker after not offering a shot to a ball that clipped the top of off stump. Rohan Posanipally was runout for the eighth wicket coming back for a poorly judged two as a relay from Rushil Ugarkar to Rahul Jariwala denied a second run. Patanker finished with 2 for 10 in four overs while Ugarkar 2 for 21 in six overs. Samson Bhatti accounted for the last wicket on his fourth ball after replacing Netravalkar, trapping Aakashveer Saini with a ball that kept low.
Jariwala, who was a late camp replacement for the unavailable Slade van Staden, showed the form that was missing from USA Cricket U19 Nationals two months ago in Texas, clubbing two fours and two sixes in his unbeaten 24 off 16 balls in the chase. He drove Abhiram Bolisetty for a magnificent straight six in the fourth over before pulling Laksh Parikh over midwicket for another to end the match in the seventh.
Because the match was over before lunch, national team camp officials organized a T20 match afterward to make use of the time. Krishnamurthi and captain Sai Mukkamalla made the most of the extra opportunity as each scored a half-century in the Reds total of 171 for 2. Mukkamalla made 63 off 48 balls including six fours and two sixes while Krishnamurthi ended 80 not out off 49 balls while hitting four fours and six sixes. The pair shared a 108-run stand for the second wicket after the early dismissal of Kanish Bhalla for 4. Ishan Sharma scored 15 not out off 13 balls as part of an unbroken 47-run stand to end the innings.
In replay, the Grizzles ended the T20 match on 102 for 9 resulting in a 69-run win for the Reds. Jariwala scored 21 off 19 balls opening the chase while Adithya Srinivas top-scored with 25 off 23 balls. Left-arm spinner Elton Tucker Jr claimed 4 for 19 with the ball and was supported by left-arm seamer Parikh who took 2 for 18 in three overs. Posanipally, Bolisetty and Tejas Visal all ended with a wicket apiece.
On Sunday, the Reds could fare little better in 50-over play despite a change of venue as they were bowled out for 104 at Morgan Hill in an eventual five-wicket defeat to a Minor League Cricket Bay Area U21 squad. Captain Mukkamalla was the only member of the Reds top seven to cross into double-figures, ending with 44 off 61 balls after his side lost the toss and was sent in to bat.
Bolisetty and Posanipally were the only other players to pass single digits, ending with 10 and 12 respectively at No. 8 and 9 in the order. Aarnav Iyer, who played for the Blazers a day earlier and was a member of the Colts squad during the USA Cricket U19 Nationals, took figures of 3 for 21 in seven overs while West Zone Reds left-arm medium pacer Anish Deshpande took 2 for 19 with the new ball – including the wickets of Krishnamurthi and Ishan Sharma for 2 and 0 respectively – as the Reds were bowled out in 29.5 overs.
Bhatti opened the chase and top-scored with 28 off 19 balls including three fours and two sixes. After a middle-order wobble, Iyer clinched the chase with an unbeaten 22 off 49 balls at No. 6. Krishnamurthi had the best figures for the Reds with 2 for 8 in seven overs of left-arm spin. Posanipally (1 for 12 in four overs), Visal (1 for 21 in six) and Saini (1 for 15 in seven) also contributed in the wickets column.
The USA U19 Reds and Blues commenced two days of training on Monday and Tuesday in the Bay Area before a pair of intrasquad matches are scheduled to be played against each other at Morgan Hill Outdoor Sports Center on Wednesday and Thursday. Both matches are set for a 10 am local time start.