Central East Region’s U-15 team lost by ten wickets to New York Region in its first match of the national tournament in New Jersey yesterday, despite making a promising start. The host region, Atlantic, had to overcome significant obstacles this week, as torrential rains left its top grounds waterlogged, so CER faced New York on an emergency replacement ground at Branch Brook Park, Newark, where five large trees were within the boundary and soft, wet, unrolled sand lay beneath the matting wicket. Not surprisingly, when New York won the toss, they put CER in, and MCA’s Gordon Makin and Rohit Mogalayapalli walked out with some trepidation to face the Easterners’ bowlers on an unfamiliar surface. Twelve overs later, with the score at 65/0, coach Sunil Kumar’s team had reason to feel that they might be able to match what they thought would be the strongest team in their bracket, but New York’s spinners reined in CER, the ball kept low on the wet surface, and CER could not take advantage of its strong start. Rohit fell for 16, and when Gordon fell, also clean bowled, for 26 (top score for CER) with the score at 93/2 in the eighteenth, the best part of CER’s match was behind them. Between the fourteenth and the thirtieth over, CER added only 31 runs, with a middle-order expected to be strong struggling to get the ball away: Arjun Ahuja hit a big straight six, but took 51 balls to score his thirteen before a misunderstanding saw him run out, while Captain Parth Joshi and MCA’s Ani Mayasandra both fell lbw, perhaps a little unluckily in each case, without pushing the score along. Six lower order batsmen could add only five runs off the bat for the last five wickets, and CER were all out in the 39th over for 141. New York’s early overs had helped CER with significant numbers of extras, but excellent spin bowling, exemplary field setting, and athletic fielding had all made the going hard in the later overs. Nonetheless, CER had something to bowl at and took to the field with some hope. Twenty-five overs later it was all over, with New York’s powerful openers Z. Tariq and R. Wilson both scoring unbeaten fifties, hitting most of CER’s bowlers with impressive power. On the whole, CER bowled economically, with Arnav Sridher particularly distinguishing himself (6-1-12-0), but there was little penetration, and the fielding lacked New York’s verve and application.
A chastened CER returns to action today against the Directors’ XI at Orange Park.
Coach Shyam’s expert comments:
This was the first time CER was playing on a matting ground. The ground was wet, not rolled hard and matting was put on it. Our kids simply weren’t used to balls keeping so low. Considering these conditions, they did remarkably well, playing 39 overs! They started excellently but should have done better during the middle overs. NYR’s experience on matting was clearly visible, not to mention the fact the ground had baked a bit in the 86 degree weather resulting in a little extra bounce on the ball. Another 50 runs on CER’s total might have made a crucial difference to the match. But I’m sure the boys will adjust to the ground conditions in subsequent matches and do better.