In a thrilling 35-overs match at a sunny Lyon Oaks ground on Saturday Motown-MCA fell short by just 13 runs to Windsor Dominion, despite a stellar performance with both ball and bat from Motown-MCA Vice Captain Anurag Yerabati. Put in to bat, Windsor scored 262/9, led by Tikka’s 129, with Anurag taking 6/44 (his second five-for in successive matches). Despite losing three early wickets, Motown-MCA staged an exciting run chase, with Vijay Patel (47), Captain Sathish Thandapani (49), and Anurag (58) leading the charge. Only when Sathish and Anurag fell in the final overs did Windsor breathe a little easier, although victory for the home side was still possible with just a few balls to go, Motown-MCA ending their innings on 249/9.
The match started late, with half the Canadian team apparently delayed at the U.S. border. The Motown-MCA Captain Sathish agreed not to enforce any penalties and, instead, to play a 35-over match. He won the toss and, with two successive triumphant run chases in mind, put the visitors in. Fourteen-year-old Rohit Mogalayapalli took the new ball and used it well (4-0-19-1), dismissing opening Ansari for 2 to a diving catch by Deepak Chilla in the gully. Razwan, however, was harder to remove, scoring 23 in nine overs before falling to the medium pace of second-change bowler Deepak (2-0-13-1), Rohit taking a confident catch at deep mid-on. By that time no 3 batsman Tikka was hitting the ball well and Motown-MCA looked in some trouble. Opening bowler Chamila Kannangara had not been able to find his rhythm, with two of his three overs proving expensive; first-change bowler Ani Mayasandra had tied up the batsmen with his high-bouncing left-arm spin in his first two overs, but had not been able to get the breakthrough needed, while Maniramprasad’s off-spin was largely effective, a few big hits notwithstanding, at third change, but also produced no wickets. Motown-MCA Joint Head Coach Vasanth Krishnaswami bowled five tidy overs (5-0-32-1) at fourth change, but it was Anurag’s six wickets at fifth change that kept Motown-MCA in the match: not only did he dismiss the centurion, but he also ran through the lower order, helped by some fine catching by Ani and Mani. Windsor’s innings was built almost entirely around Tikka’s powerful century, but when he was finally caught, attempting a Dilshan-style scoop off Anurag , by wicket keeper Gordon Makin, Motown-MCA could ruefully look back at seven chances that did not stick.
A target of 263 looked remote as Motown-MCA went out to bat, so remote that an emergency call went out to big-hitting MCA Joint Head Coach Shyam Mayasandra, who was in the playing XII but had stayed at home because of illness. A ninety-mile round-trip from Lyon Oaks to Rochester Hills ensured that he could bat (with the permission of the opposing captain), but by the time he arrived Motown-MCA were three down for just over 20 – opener Gordon Makin having fallen for three, playing around an inswinger from Suk; Vasanth Krishnaswami run out for 14, attempting a risky single and beaten by a direct hit; and Mani dismissed for 0 trying to force the ball on the off side. Motown veterans, familiar with the batting collapses of recent seasons, must have felt little confidence at this stage, and when Ani fell for three, pessimism ruled on the boundary.
However, Vijay Patel began the revival with some splendid striking, including two straight sixes that sent the Canadians deep into the undergrowth on the North side of the ground to find the ball. Anurag was Vijay’s junior partner in the stand that gave Motown-MCA hope, patiently placing the ball in the gaps for ones and twos, and both batsmen took advantage of Windsor’s struggles in the field (which continued to give Motown-MCA hope throughout the innings). After Vijay fell, caught for 47, MCA Joint Head Coach Shyam Mayasandra pushed the score along, but was caught off a top edge for twelve, as he attempted a shot designed to retain the strike. His dismissal brought Sathish to the crease, and hopes rose again, as the captain put Windsor to the sword, with two sixes and five fours in his fighting 49. All the while Anurag scored steadily and ran athletically, as another solid partnership was built. The required run rate crept up, but was never astronomical, restricted for most of the final dozen overs to around ten-an-over by the skipper’s aggression. With three overs left and four wickets remaining, some 36 runs were required – a big ask, but not out of the question. When Sathish was narrowly run out as he tried to turn one into two, a win seemed less likely, but Chamila, coming in at nine, hit the ball hard (7 not out). However, it was clear that the end was near when an exhausted Anurag was bowled trying to go over the top, to be greeted at the boundary by applauding team mates, and Deepak soon followed, looking for the first of several boundaries needed in the final over. Rohit drove the first ball he faced cleanly for a very nice three, but Motown-MCA could not quite get over the line, falling thirteen runs short as the innings was closed.
The team left Lyon Oaks with mixed feelings – a battling defeat, with some outstanding performances, Anurag’s top among them, but a few tidier overs and just a bit more precision in the field when Windsor batted could have left a different tale to tell.
Motown-MCA take the next two weeks off – the Meijer Michigan Games have led to the postponement of the fixture originally planned for next week, while there are no league matches over the 4 July long weekend. The next league opponent is Canton at Heritage Park on 9 July, while an MCA Combined XI flies west on Wednesday to compete in the California Cricket Academy U-17 tournament.