At Dilworth on Saturday MCA Combined XI bowled out the CCA junior team for 167 in 33 overs (Paarth Joshi 3/27, Rudrik Suthar 2/6), and then chased down the target in 26 overs (Gordon Makin 71, Kwiese Edmondson 71 not out). On Sunday, in the tournament final at the Santa Clara ground, MCA Combined have a re-match with the CCA senior team, to whom they lost comprehensively on the first day of the tournament.
The meeting with the CCA 2nd team, consisting largely of U-15 players, provided the ad hoc MCA Combined XI, itself predominantly a U-15 team (at least six members are U-15s), with an excellent opportunity to measure its progress over the tournament. Coach Shyam Mayasandra had called for a more disciplined bowling performance than in the defeat of New Jersey the day before and for calm execution in the field, and his team duly obliged, halving the number of wides bowled, and fielding athletically.
Discipline and athleticism proved essential early in the match, as CCA 2 got off to a fine start, reaching 58 without loss, with openers Dev Parikh and Neil Tagare looking good, but when MCA Combined, in a change of tactics, turned to spin earlier than in previous matches, Ani Mayasandra (1/25) got the vital breakthrough, taking the wicket of Tagare, well caught by Vivek Joglekar. The fall of the first wicket brought Hersh Solanki to the crease, and, with Parikh, he built another fine partnership. At 112/1 MCA Combined were looking distinctly anxious, but Arjun Ahuja engineered an excellent runout, diving at midoff to stop a drive and, while still prone, rifling a throw to Kwiese Edmondson behind the stumps to catch Parikh short of his ground. His dismissal started a collapse that took CCA 2 from 120/2 to 167 all out, with panic among the batsmen and good work from Edmondson (who also took two catches) contributing to three more runouts, while Paarth Joshi (3/27), Californian Rudrik Suthar (2/6), and Arjun Ahuja (1/34) dealt with the rest of the CCA 2 middle and bottom order.
At the tiny Dilworth ground 168 seemed a competitive, yet far from daunting, target, and at the lunch break MCA Combined had good reason to feel pleased, having withstood their opponents’ strong start and reined them in very effectively.
For the third time in three matches MCA Combined sent out a new opening pair to begin their reply, Gordon Makin returning to his familiar spot, but this time accompanied by Arjun Ahuja. Using the quick outfield well the two got off to a good start, but Ahuja fell for 5, misplaying a quicker ball from first-change bowler Rutriz Bhise, the skyer caught by wicket keeper Neil Tagare. At 24/1 Kwiese Edmonson joined Makin at the crease, and the two keepers (Makin kept for 21 overs, Edmondson for 12) built the first of two key partnerships. Somewhat to the surprise of followers back home in Michigan, it was the younger and less experienced Makin who took the lead role, attacking the CCA 2 bowling and hitting a series of boundaries (10 fours). Once he had reached 50 he cut loose, hitting three fours in an over, and then pulling a flat six (his first ever) over square leg. When Makin fell for 71, caught behind attempting one aggressive shot too many, there was still work to be done, but Edmondson then took charge, and, with the support of Paarth Joshi (10 not out), saw MCA Combined home in style, moving with alacrity from 30 to 71 not out, and hitting three spectacular sixes, one of which will require the tournament hosts to hire a glazier and mend relations with a homeowner whose property adjoins the ground, and whose living room had a one-on-one meeting with a cricket ball. Man of the Match (for the second successive match) Edmondson finished the match with a four (taking the MCA Combined final score to 170/2 off 26 overs), to the delight of his team mates.
Coach Mayasandra pronounced himself delighted with the result and with the performance of the team, but noted that, although extras had been reduced, thirty wides were still too many (the well-schooled Californians gave up only 13 extras). Now MCA Combined turn their attention to the final, and a bigger challenge.