MCA vs University of Michigan XI, Sunday, 23May, Canton C. C. Ground: U. of M. XI 141/8 (20 overs) defeated MCA, 120/8 (20 overs) by twenty-one runs.
Facing a winless U. of M. XI, MCA thought they might have a chance of a second successive victory for the first time in the MichCA T20 league, but graduate student Raghuram Katragadda, who represented his university in his native India, thought otherwise, and his splendid, chanceless 67 saw to it that the students (all but one graduate students) posted a competitive 141. When MCA captain and coach Shyam Mayasandra fell to the second ball of the MCA innings, the Academy was in trouble, and despite an excellent 20 from thirteen-year-old opener Rohit Mogalayapalli, an anchoring 23 from Kishan Patel, and a stunning 18 n.o. in nine balls from tenth man Jeet Nirban, MCA could not accumulate its runs fast enough.
After forty minutes of energetic work on a partially waterlogged Canton field (one MCA parent arrived with wood chips and cat litter in his vehicle, and once they were used up, players were dispatched to the Canton Park’s mulch pile for further supplies), Shyam Mayasandra won the toss, and judging that the ball would swing early, while later the outfield would be quicker, put the students in. Their openers fell early to Kishan Patel (2/21 in four overs) and Chamila Kananngara (1/9 in two), who made good use of the new ball. Anurag Yerabati was equally economical, taking 1/9 in two overs; Ani Mayasandra bowled two good overs for 10, Deepak Chilla contained well, too, while the spin of Kashif Akhtar and Pawan Canchi also took a wicket a piece, with Kashif dismissing the only Michigan man apart from Katragadda to reach double figures – all-rounder Vijay. Jeet Nirban (1/9) not only took an excellent catch in the covers, but also saw to it that Kartik left the wicket after scoring nine. MCA’s two youngest players on the day were given an over each near the end of the UM innings, when Katragadda was set, and found it difficult to keep the batsmen under control, but apart from those two overs, MCA bowled with exemplary economy, and also fielded well.
Katragadda’s innings was an exemplary display of what the rest of the cricketing world regards as classic sub-continental batsmanship – wristy ground shots, with the ball worked off his legs square and behind square with consummate ease – and spectators were full of admiration for his efforts, not least when team mates were falling cheaply around him. Nonetheless, at the innings break, MCA felt far from out of the match.
However, when Shyam Mayasandra, trying to hit his way out of a slump, holed out at deep midwicket off the second ball of the innings (from UM’s best bowler, Anurag Tripathi), things looked bleak for MCA, but Rohit Mogalayapalli, who batted thirteen overs for his twenty, Kishan Patel, and Jeet Nirban all put in strong performances with the bat, to make sure that MCA ended the match almost within touching distance of the opposition score – Kishan showing an excellent combination of circumspection and aggression before an unfortunate runout, and Jeet showing superb late-order mastery of the T20 genre, as indicated not only by daring shots, but also by a strike rate of 200. Earlier, Kashif Akhtar, batting two down, had looked likely to turn the match around with 10 off successive balls, but fell attempting another six, caught in the deep.
Although this match did not provide the excitement of the victory over HFHS the week before, it was another sign of progress for the Academy, and offers hope for a season of improved performances.