Michigan Cricket Academy was victorious in its own Memorial Day Weekend Tournament, 2010, emerging top on net-run-rate after a three-way-tie for first place between the hosts, Great Lakes Cricket Conference Colts (the runners-up), and the Michigan Cricket Association Colts, with a very young Chicago Combined team, captained by tournament MVP Srijay Kumar, fighting valiantly throughout the weekend, but eventually occupying fourth place. GLCC’s captain, Salman Ahmed, won the Best Bowler award, while MCA’s Jai Nirban was Best Batsman.
The round-robin tournament, played primarily at U-19 level, with teams allowed to field up to four U-21 players (although, in fact, both Chicago and MCA had significant numbers of U-15s and U-13s in their squads), entered the final day with every team in with a chance of a trophy: MichCA had beaten both GLCC and Chicago on the opening day, and could be champions with a defeat of MCA; GLCC had recovered from a rather lethargic defeat to MichCA to beat the hosts on Saturday afternoon, and had a chance of either the runners-up or winners trophies, as did MCA, which had beaten Chicago handily and lost narrowly to GLCC on Saturday, while Chicago, although winless, could still get its hands on a trophy if it could beat GLCC on Sunday.
Sunday’s Chicago-GLCC match was played at Bloomer Park, Rochester Hills, and, with the out-of-towners now strengthened by two senior men (Fahad and Moin Barbar) who had been unavailable on Saturday, a close contest looked likely. GLCC, batting first, made 150/9 off the regulation 30 overs, with the key contributions coming from Naeem (29) and Wasim Patel (a sterling 56 not out, and the third half-century of the tournament). Chicago’s opening bowlers played a leading role for the visitors, Moin taking 3/27 and the captain Srijay 2/19. Chicago must have thought the target more than within reach of a strengthened batting line-up, but when Fahad, Parth, and Vybhav all fell within six overs, with less than fifteen on the board, it was clear that the visitors were bound to struggle. Only Srijay offered real resistance, his fighting 23 ended by opposing captain Salman, who had him caught for 23, one of four wickets taken by the GLCC skipper. Chicago were all out for 92 in 29.1 overs.
Meanwhile, at Lyon Oaks Park, MCA played MichCA in a new edition of a familiar rivalry. MCA, led by eighteen-year-old Kishan Patel, won the toss and elected to bat, with the skipper unworried by the morning dew. He instructed his openers, fourteen-year-old Gordon Makin and fifteen-year-old Ani Mayasandra, that their job was to stay in, and see off the new ball, hoping to neutralize the threat of MichCA’s star all-rounder Taimoor Ahmed, who had played a key role in MichCA’s two victories the day before. Gordon and Ani did their captain’s bidding, with an opening partnership of 48, which provided the foundation for a final score of 153/8 in thirty overs. Gordon batted 21 overs for a patient 30, before falling to a slower ball from Haris Ahmed (another of the tournament’s top bowlers), while quick knocks from Kishan and Dhwanit Patel contributed 15 each, and Jai Nirban played his usual role for the weekend by taking the attack to the MichCA bowlers and scoring a rapid 31. Haris took the key wickets of Gordon and Jai, but MCA lost only Deepak to Taimoor, late in the innings. MCA also managed, late in the innings, to rattle MichCA in the field, just as MichCA had done the day before to GLCC — the hosts reached their final score with a run five off the last ball. In reply, keeper Hamza Ansari (who had an excellent all-round tournament) and Ali built a good base for MichCA in a solid opening stand, with Hamza lasting into the final overs before falling for a careful 21 to Gordon, who turned one and had Hamza play on. However, earlier, when Taimoor fell, caught behind by Anurag Yerabati, to Jeet, for only 13, MCA began to feel confident (knowing that Taimoor’s team included among the lower-order batsmen several players with little experience of the hard-ball game). When Jeet dismissed Haris in exactly the same way with the next ball, the hosts could not contain their delight, and Kishan Patel, whose vocal and often witty leadership on the field kept his team energized throughout the innings, later identified those two balls as the keys to MCA’s victory. Like Hamza, Deepa (19) offered stout resistance, and, like Hamza, he fell late to Gordon’s leg spin, caught and bowled. Once the two of them were out, the lower order crumbled, and MichCA were all out for 116 in 26.4 overs. MichCA, under the excellent captaincy of Taimoor, who had a very fine all-round tournament, must have felt desperately unlucky that Sunday’s loss moved them from first place to third, but MCA had done its job. Senior MichCA umpire (and distinguished first-class cricketer) V. V. Giri chose Gordon Makin as his man-of-the-match, “not for his runs, not for his wickets, but for his patience”.
MCA and MichCA left Lyon Oaks for Sunday’s closing ceremony at Bloomer Park with only a vague sense of who might get a hand on which trophy, and so there was much delight in the MCA motorcade when the news came through that the hosts’ net run rate put them well ahead of the two other teams with two victories.
THE CLOSING CEREMONY
At the closing ceremony, MCA’s generous sponsors, Iknowvate Techologies, U and I Business Solutions, Nrityollasa Center for the Performing Arts, Michigan Cricket Association, Global Sports, and V2Soft, Inc., were all thanked, as were all the participating teams. MCA officials expressed particular gratitude to the senior umpires, Dr V. V. Giri, Avinash of Troy C.C., and Amir of Canton C. C. Amir, attending the closing ceremony, graciously donated his umpiring fee to MCA (now a non—profit organization, and actively seeking tax-deductible donations).
After the closing ceremony, MCA Joint Head Coach Shyam Mayasandra remarked: “MCA, as with the other tournaments we have hosted over the last six years, has once again demonstrated, in our own small (but not, we hope, insignificant) way, what can be achieved for young cricketers when the various regional academies combine forces. We have given our kids an excellent opportunity to display their cricketing talent, and offered them a route-map for further progress in the youth game in this country. By creating a general buzz among young players, with what we feel has been a well conducted tournament, we have provided a stimulus for competitive development and an advertisement for the possibilities of youth cricket in our area, and we have given all our young players something to look forward to, with the prospect of more tournaments, including our own annual Labor Day Weekend Tournament, at which we expect a large number of teams to offer significant and challenging competition.”
On Saturday, Chicago had started the day by playing the hosts at Bloomer. Kishan, one of four outstanding young captains, won the toss and batted. As would happen on Sunday, MCA’s innings was built on a strong opening stand, this time of 50 between Gordon and thirteen-year-old Rohit Mogalayapalli. Gordon was surprised by a straight one from young Arnav, and bowled through the gate for 15, but his opening partner, Rohit, went on to dominate Chicago with a splendid 71, the biggest score of the tournament (MCA coaches took great pleasure in the facts that several of their top performers were U-15 players, and a significant number of the team, including both Gordon and Rohit, are American-born and have never played cricket outside of the USA). All of MCA’s top order got among the runs (Swapnil – 15; Dhwanit – 23; Jai –33; Kishan – 11; Ani – 14), enabling MCA to post a challenging total of 214/9 in 30 overs. Vybhav was the pick of the visitors’ bowling, with 3/34. In its reply, Chicago was bound to find the going tough, not least because it had been forced to borrow sixteen-year-old Krishna Kompella and eleven-year-old Neil Makin from the hosts (the former scored 15, opening, while the latter, batting eight-down, scored two not out), and, although Srijay played a captain’s innings of 38, the visitors did not have enough artillery to get close to the target, ending on 149. Pawan Canchi’s economical off spin took three wickets.
Saturday afternoon’s match at Bloomer, between Chicago and MichCA, was shortened to 25 overs because of time constraints. Chicago won the toss, and batted, with fifteen-year-old Parth Joshi opening and leading the way; with a powerful 55 he became the second U-15 player to score a half-century in the tournament, but only Srijay, with 24, stayed with him, and Chicago finished all-out (with only ten men) for 112. Taimoor’s three wicket-haul (3/10) led the way for MichCA, with Haris and Shereyar each helping themselves to two. In reply, MichCA knocked off the runs in 23 overs, with Arsalan’s 17 and Asad’s 25 n.o. the biggest contributions. Parth helped himself to two wickets for only 16.
At Lyon Oaks on Saturday, MichCA Colts defeated GLCC Colts in the morning match, with Taimoor Ahmed leading his team. Hamza and Ali opened for MichCA, who batted first, and built slowly but surely, with Hamza scoring a very solid 20; Ali, Haris, and Arsalan all scored in the teens, but the key innings was the captain’s: his 49, well-paced, led his team to a final total of exactly 150, off thirty overs, with eight wickets down. Naheel led the bowling, with three wickets, but GLCC knew that they could have done better – at least half a dozen chances went down, including Taimoor before he had got into double figures. In reply, GLCC saw strong efforts from Naeem, Ashraful, Wasim, and Suleiman (18, 15, 18, and 16 respectively), but no one could stay long enough to dominate, while Taimoor’s figures of 6-0-9-2, Haris’s of 6-0-15-4, and Arsalan’s of 3-0-20-3 told a very different tale from GLCC’s. V. V. Giri had not hesitation in choosing Taimoor Ahmed as man-of-the-match.
Salman and his team were determined not to repeat the morning’s mistakes, and to shake off early-season rust, when they played the hosts in the afternoon at Lyon Oaks, in a match shortened to 20 overs. A confident Kishan Patel won the toss and put GLCC in, but the bowling and fielding of Salman’s team were much tighter now, and Salman’s own three wicket-haul led the way for GLCC. Manpreet Singh, making his only tournament appearance, scored his 39 at an IPL rate, but Jai was the only other MCA batsman to score in double figures (17). A final score of 85 in exactly 17 overs looked modest indeed, but Kishan raised his team with a fine opening spell and again later with two wickets, ably supported by Dhwanit (three wickets), Jeet, and Manpreet. When GLCC were 16/3 and then 24/4, MCA had high hopes of defending their low score, but a fine 28 from Suleiman and a swashbuckling 22 from Yasin took GLCC to the brink of victory. As MCA hunted for a way back, Kishan turned to his secret weapon, eleven-year-old Neil Makin (now returned from his spell on loan to Chicago), but GLCC managed to escape Neil’s one over intact, taking six runs off the youngster, and giving only one hard chance. It should be noted that Neil was not the youngest player to bat or bowl in the tournament. That honor went to ten-year-old Srijith Kumar, who bowled three economical overs in two days and made three appearances with the bat (against Neil’s one). After Neil’s over, Dhwanit returned to make it interesting, dismissing both Suleiman and Yasin, to leave GLCC wobbling on 79/6 at the end of 18. But Salman and Raj steadied the ship and saw GLCC home in 19 overs. V. V. Giri chose Yasin Patel (4-0-14-4; 22) as his man-of-the-match.
Overall, the tournament, run on shoe-string and with a small but active staff, seemed a success, with praise coming from players, coaches, and umpires alike. MCA felt that the format provided the best arena for the available talent, and gave opportunities to players of all ages. The Memorial Day Tournament is the smaller of MCA’s two annual tournaments, and the Academy is now beginning preparations for its bigger and much more demanding Labor Day Weekend Tournament (clubs are invited to contact the Academy if they would like to participate). Meanwhile, MCA’s players return to league duty this weekend, as the Academy team plays Ann Arbor C. C. in the MichCA T20 competition. Pictures on the tournament are available online at MCA’s Flickr feed.
Saturday, 29 May, Bloomer Park:
MCA (214/9 in 30 overs; Rohit 71, Jai 33; Vybhav 34/3) defeated Chicago (149 all out in 29.5 overs; Srijay 38; Pawan 27/3).
Chicago (112 all out in 26 overs, Parth 50, Taimoor 3/10) lost to MichCA Colts (114 in 22.5 overs, Asad 25 n.o.) in a 25-over match
Saturday, 29 May, Lyon Oaks Park:
MichCA Colts (150/8 in 30 overs, Taimoor 49, Naheel 3/29) defeated GLCC Colts (125 in 30 overs, Haris 4/15)
MCA (85 a.o. in 17 overs, Manpreet 39, Yasin4/14) lost to GLCC (86/6 in 19 overs, Dhwanit 3/26) in a 20-over match.
Sunday, 30 May, Bloomer Park:
GLCC (150/9 in 30 overs, Naeem 29, Wasim 56 n.o., Moin 3/27) defeated Chicago (92 a.o. in 29.1 overs, Salman 4.27).