On Saturday at Hartland an MCA XI captained by Kishan Patel, and coached by MCA Joint Head Coaches Shyam Mayasandra and Vasanth Krishnaswami, defeated Anurag Tripathi’s University of Michigan team by 32 runs in its first group match in MichCA’s National Collegiate Cricket Championship. MCA, invited to join the tournament by the organizers, formed a roster with five high-schoolers, nine college students (most under-nineteens), and, in lieu of alumni and faculty members, three coaches and associates (MCA’s Joint Head Coaches and regular guest player, Motown C. C. captain, Kashif Akhtar), of whom a maximum of two could be in any playing XII.
Saturday’s XII arrived at Hartland to find that UM, in what turned out in retrospect to be a small compensation for that afternoon’s gridiron defeat, had overwhelmed MSU, setting the Spartans a target of over 220 in 20 overs, with Rohit Joshi’s 92 the biggest contribution. MCA’s young team would have been forgiven for feeling some trepidation, not least because they would also have well remembered three previous defeats to UM in the last two years. However, MCA’s team was to surprise UM, and, perhaps, themselves too, with solid batting, and an excellent performance in the field.
Kishan (Washtenaw Community College) won the toss and had no hesitation in batting first, sending in Kashif Akhar and Gordon Makin (Dexter High School) to open. They gave MCA a solid start, with an opening partnership of nearly 50, before Kashif, who had earlier been put down, was caught off a swirling top edge at mid-off for 19. Dhwanit Patel (Canton High School) went quickly, but John Titus (Oakland C. C.) rode his luck for 15, while Gagan Singh (Schoolcraft College) was run out, hesitating over a risky single, for 12; the captain then fell cheaply trying to push the score along, and MCA looked a little short of runs at 115/6 after sixteen overs. Gordon Makin had been rotating the strike effectively, scoring one boundary in his innings, but after he was hit by the ball when making his ground and then involved in a collision with a bowler, he declined the offer of a runner and decided to retire hurt on 40 not out at the end of the eighteenth over, enabling Deepa Singh (Oakland C. C.) and Jai Nirban (Washtenaw C. C.) to go after the bowlers in the last two overs, thereby pushing MCA’s score to a respectable 158/8 at the close of the innings.
There was no doubt that MCA would have to bowl well in the opening overs to defend that solid, but not massive, total, and the bowlers duly obliged: Kishan and John Titus took the new ball, and strangled UM, who were 28/3 after six overs, with the morning’s star, Rohit Joshi, also back, retired hurt after aggravating a muscle pull as MCA’s bowlers attacked his legs. Chamila Kannangara (Oakland C. C.) and Jeet Nirban (Washtenaw C.C.) continued the good work, as did Kashif Akhtar. Only two UM players made double figures, with Karthik’s 56 leading a fine rearguard action. The MCA captain led in the field by example, giving up well under 20 runs for two wickets in four overs, taking a catch, and engineering two run-outs, while John Titus’s four overs went for only 23 runs, and Chamila Kannangara gave up just 22 in three overs as UM attempted to attack. Jeet Nirban (Washtenaw C. C.) took 1/23 in four overs, and Kashif Akhtar 1/28. MCA excelled in the field, putting down fewer chances than either UM or MSU had done, and getting to the ball with the sort of agility expected of a young team, despite the facts that the intended wicket keeper, Zakaria Ahmed (Oakland C. C.), who had stood so impressively for CER U-19s earlier in the season, had to leave the field before the match began because of a family emergency, and the likely choice to replace him, Gordon Makin, did not field after sustaining his injuries while batting.
UM never quite recovered from their early travails, and never got close to the required run rate, ending their twenty overs on 126/8. Umpire Banfield Mark chose Gordon Makin as man-of-the-match. MCA, with surely the youngest captain in the tournament, and with their youngest player chosen as man-of-the-match, had good reason to celebrate their victory, which will make this weekend’s meeting with MSU all the more significant.