MCA XI Victorious in both NCCC Pool Matches, Advances to Semi-finals

Last weekend the MCA XI secured a berth in the National College Cricket Championship semi-finals with victories over teams from Oakland University and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The semi-final lineup has not yet been announced, but MCA, one of only two teams with maximum points in group play, is assured a berth.

MCA 135/6 in 20 overs (Yerabati 46, Makin 34; Akshat 3/21) beat OU, 132 a.o. in twenty overs, by three runs (Suri 53, Akshat 24, Shaki 3/27).

At Hartland on Saturday MCA captain Kishan Patel won the toss and chose to bat against OU. MCA regulars Ani Mayasandra, Anurag Yerabati, Pawan Canchi, and Gordon Makin were joined on the team by occasional MCA players Kishan Patel, Jay and Jeet Nirban, by two Chicagoans, Akhil Sridher and Ashish Ahuja, both of them regular tourists with MCA tournament teams, and by two local league players, who, according to tournament rules, were allowed to supplement the MCA youth players – Golam Afser and Shaki.

Gordon Makin and Jai Nirban opened the batting, and, although Jai fell early, quickly followed by Akhil Sridher, MCA were a solid 82/2 after 12 overs, with Makin and no 4 batsman Anurag Yerabati moving the score along well. Makin hit his second six square of the wicket at Hartland in successive matches (having previously never hit a single 6 in a MichCA match), while Yerabati’s three fours were equally welcome. But when Makin fell, bowled when trying to push the ball to midwicket, the MCA innings stalled, despite Yerabati’s anchoring. Ani Mayasandra added a quick 13 n.o. in the final overs, partnered by Arjun Ahuja (3 n.o.), but the final score of 135 was disappointing after a brisk start, Askhat’s 3/21 in 4 overs helping to apply the brakes. Nonetheless, the long grass at Hartland, covered by ample dew on Saturday morning, meant that MCA felt they could defend their relatively low score, and so it proved, although the finish was much tighter than Kishan Patel or MCA XI coach Shyam Mayasandra would have liked.

Oakland struggled against the hostile pace of opening bowler and Man-of-the-Match Shaki, whose three wickets cost 26 runs, while first-change bowler Arjun Ahuja tied down the students in his first three overs, ending with 3/27. Gulam Afser’s off-spinners turned and deceived, bringing him 1/15 in three overs, but, despite wickets falling regularly, OU were never quite out of it. Suri held things together with a sterling 53, supported by Akshat’s 24, and as OU’s batsmen sped up towards the end, the prospect of victory came within sight. Having been 64/4 after 14 overs, OU raced to 105/5 at the end of 17, and MCA had reason to be nervous. But Shaki returned to pin the batsmen down, and, despite some worrying extras in the final overs, MCA contained OU sufficiently to run out the last batsman on the last ball of the match and win by three runs.

MCA 225/5 in 20 overs (Ajbani 125, A. Mayasandra 37*, Makin 31) beat UM Ann Arbor XI, 119 a.o. in 15 overs (K. Patel 4/25) by 106 runs

At Lyon Oaks on Sunday MCA XI overwhelmed the well-oiled University of Michigan XI. A fifth schoolboy was added to the team for Sunday’s match, as fourteen-year-old Arnav Sridher, who was to take two wickets, joined Akhil Sridher, Arjun Ahuja, Ani Mayasandra, and Gordon Makin. With Shaki and Pawan Canchi both unavailable, and Jay Nirban rested, John Titus and young GTCC batsman Arjun Ajbani were called into the side too and it was Ajbani’s stunning century that took the game away from the students.

Once again, Kishan Patel won the toss and elected to bat, and although John Titus, recently recovered from injury, fell early taking a risky single, and Arjun Ahuja soon followed to an excellent diving catch at short extra cover, opener Gordon Makin’s 31 gave MCA a platform which Arjbani was to exploit spectacularly. Makin hit his second six in two days, pulling the UM opening bowler over midwicket, but this unexpected bonus was soon forgotten as Arjbani destroyed the Ann Arborites. He fell, holing out at long on as he attempted to hit a sixth successive six in an over off a shell-shocked Raghunath Katragada, only for Ani Mayasandra to take apart the death bowling, hitting a quick 37 not out that included a straight six.

UM’s reply had to be no-holds-barred from the very beginning, which predictably, led to early wickets, and disconsolate batsmen returned to the field shelter at regular intervals as the MCA attack, led by Kishan Patel (4/25), and very ably supported in the field, most notably by Gulam Afser, who took three fine catches, put the University team out of its misery. However, a semi-final re-match is not out of the question, and the students will surely be out for blood next time.

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