No one plays sport to lose, and no one enjoys losing, but MCA Joint Head Coach and T20 team captain Shyam Mayasandra and MCA regular guest player and Motown C.C. captain Kashif Akhtar both left Lyon Oaks on Sunday in good spirits after the Academy’s sixteen-run defeat to Greater Detroit C. C. Their good spirits were the result of another strong performance by the young team, in which every player made solid contributions (with Ani Mayasandra chosen as youth Man-of-the-Match for his 18 not out, two economical overs, and an excellent catch running in from deep mid-off), and in which one of the league’s stronger teams was pushed hard. Coach Shyam expressed his pleasure at the continued development of the team and the signs of growing maturity.
GDCC won the toss and elected to bat, with Chamila Kannangara and Anurag Yerabati taking the new ball for MCA. Both bowled economically (MCA gave up significantly fewer extras than their opponent), and when Chamila had GDCC opener Faisal Sultan caught behind for seven by Gordon Makin, diving well to his right, in the third over, the Academy applied the brakes to GDCC’s quick start. However, despite good spells from Rohit Mogalayapalli, Ani Mayasandra, and Deepak Chilla, a couple of dropped catches allowed Abinhav Verma and Rohan Wanchoo to build a one-hundred-run partnership before Kashif Akhtar dismissed them both in his second over (good catches by Rohit Mogalayapalli and Ani Mayasandra). Amir Masood and Hamza Ansari added useful runs at the end, aided by two dropped catches in the last over, after Irfan Mahmood had been stumped by Anurag Yerabati, unwisely charging Pawan Canchi, who bowled an excellent first over.
A target of 146 was within MCA’s reach, but, as ever, required at least one of the senior men to score big. Shyam Mayasandra and Gordon Makin opened for MCA, facing Rohan Wanchoo and GDCC captain Nasir Mumtaz. Both bowled very well (Gordon subsequently described Rohan, who was swinging the ball both ways, as the best quick bowler he had ever faced), but MCA’s openers survived the first four overs, albeit with only 12 on the board. GDCC’s first- and second-change men were not as tight as their opening bowlers, and MCA’s opening batsmen profited, taking the score to 34 without loss after six overs. At that point, Shyam Mayasandra called for his more powerful bat, while a mid-wicket conference between the two openers led to his junior partner telling the MCA captain (according to reports): “Coach Shyam, if you stay in, we can win this match”. Unfortunately, the MCA captain fell on the very next ball, attempting to lift the returning Rohan back over his head, but succeeding only in giving an edge to keeper Amir. MCA’s scoring rate again slowed down, and when Gordon fell to Haris Ahmed, in the ninth over for nine (his half-hearted pull lobbed to square leg), MCA had only 42 on the board. Anurag Yerabati and Kashif Akhtar began to speed things up with some aggressive hitting, before Anurag went for six, and then Chamila Kannangara and Kashif Akhtar made nice contributions, hitting hard, before both were run out trying to challenge the field and accelerate the run rate. Ani Mayasandra came in, showed some caution, and then started to hit out very effectively, aided briefly by Rohit Mogalayapalli and Neil Quinlan. As the final overs arrived, it seemed unlikely that MCA could chase down the total, but late aggression from Ani, supported at the end by good running from Ryan Quinlan, lifted MCA almost within reach of the GDCC score.
As in other defeats this season, MCA had come close to surprising an opponent who had probably not expected to be challenged by such a young team (Shyam Mayasandra, Kashif Akhtar, and Neill Quinlan were the only senior players). With three matches left in the first round (against Toledo, Saginaw, and Oakland University), there is still all to play for.