A United States of America Cricket Coaches Association U-17 Team, captained by New York’s Trevis Ross, coached by Linden Frazer and managed by Rahul Sharma, won the inaugural Mississauga International Cricket Trophy after a series of matches played in Mississauga, Ontario, from 2 to 7 August.
The squad included many names that will be familiar to MCA cricketers, mostly of players from New England, New York, and California — Brandon Dat, Randall Wilson, Trevis Ross, Gauranshu Sharma, Rafeek Nazeer, Poojan Mody, Karan Singh, Neil Tagare, Vibhav Altekar, Talha Mujtaba, Rutvij Bhise, Jason Gobin, Vivek Barbhaiya. MCA’s wicket-keeper batsman Gordon Makin was the only team member from the Midwest.
The USACCA team played a series of matches against sides from the Ontario Cricket Academy and Club, losing the first 50-overs match, but winning the remaining three matches (Sunday’s match was abandoned without a ball being bowled because of rain). The OCA teams included, among other leading youth players, Nikhil Dutta, top player at the recent ICC Americas U-18 Match-Play Camp in Florida, and Abrash Khan, one of Canada’s leading players at last year’s ICC Americas U-15 tournament in Winnipeg. Dutta duly performed outstandingly throughout the series, while USACCA’s leading batsmen, Randall Wilson and Rafeek Nazeer, were also excellent. Brandon Dat’s five-for in a low-scoring T20 match on Monday was the best bowling performance from the USACCA team, although every bowler put in at least one strong performance (thirteen-year-old Talha Mujtaba’s leg spin especially impressed on the first day). After what USACCA’s coach regarded as a sloppy day in the field on Friday, USACCA turned in a series of solid fielding performances and looked very lively during Saturday’s one 50-over match and Monday’s two 20-over contests. Partial score cards for the matches are available at http://www.crichq.com/ (search by country), although, because of technical problems, there are some omissions and inaccuracies.
In the first match, on Friday, OCA, after winning the toss, scored 223/7 in 50 overs, with Dutta and Galva both contributing 50s (the latter unbeaten), while Kapoor scored 40. Talha Mujtaba and Trevis Ross both took two wickets. At one stage, USACCA looked set to overtake what locals considered a big total on the slow Mississauga pitch, but, despite solid contributions from Ross, Wilson, and Gobin, they fell short in the chase (unfortunately, the score sheet for the USACCA innings was not available at the time of writing). In Saturday’s match OCA, put in by USACCA, were skittled out for only 73, with Dutta alone reaching double figures. Poojan Moday, Vibhav Atlekar, Trevis Ross, and Randall Wilson each took two wickets. USACCA lost only two wickets in their victorious innings, with Neil Tagare and Rafeek Nazeer leading the reply.
After Sunday’s rain-out, Monday was devoted to T20 matches (up to 3, depending on the outcome of the first two). USACCA won the toss and put OCA in twice, bowling them out for 43 in the first match and 107 in the second, and winning each match by four wickets.
MCA’s Gordon Makin kept in every match, putting in tidy performances and gaining some useful practice standing up to spinners on the slow wicket at the Mavis Ground. He took one catch, had an assist on a run-out, and felt himself a little unlucky when appeals were turned down on a couple of stumpings, but was, nonetheless, happy to have contributed to score cards with relatively few extras. In the two fifty-over matches Gordon had a quiet time with the bat: in the first he came in late, with his team chasing 224 and already wobbling; he batted confidently until instructions came from the boundary to “hit out”, whereupon he misplayed a drive and was caught and bowled for 9; in the second match, he opened with Neil Tagare (who played a fine innings of 25), but was caught on the back foot by a ball that kept low from off spinner Dutta, who opened the bowling as OCA tried to defend a very low score, and was out lbw for one. In the third match (this time a T20 fixture) on Monday morning, USACCA bowled OCA out for 43, with Datt’s 5/6 the outstanding figures, but then gave a demonstration of how not to chase down a low total, with only Randall Wilson (13 n.o.) resisting the urge to play cross-bat shots and leave the crease for a low score; Gordon, batting no. 8, came in to score the winning runs, ending the match on 2 not out, as USACCA won by a mere four wickets.
The second T20 match on Monday was to decide the fate of the trophy, and a strengthened OCA side put up what locals regarded as a solid par score of 107/7, with Rishi (43), Dutta (29) and Khan (15) the major contributors; for USACCA Rutvij Bhise, opening the bowling, took two wickets, Trevis Ross three, and Randall Wilson two. After Neil Tagare was unfortunately run out early, USACCA looked supremely confident in their reply, as Wilson and Rafeek Nazeer placed their shots well and ran without problems. But, with the score on 94 in the eighteenth over, Wilson went lbw to Dale for an excellent 41, and suddenly the pressure overcame the American side. Dutta came on to bowl the penultimate over and had Nazeer caught on the boundary off the fourth ball. The next two balls also took wickets as the Americans put the ball in the air, much to the distress of coach Linden Frazer. The hat trick meant that the last over began with eight required and two new batsmen – Gordon Makin and Guaranshu Sharma – at the crease, and Gordon facing. The MCA batsman played a leg glance off the first ball for two, and then square cut firmly for another two off the second ball. Four from four were now required. He took a single off the third ball of the over, and de Souza then bowled a ball down the leg side, run for a second wide by the anxious batsmen. The scores were tied as Gordon faced the fourth legitimate ball of the over, with his partner telling him he would run whatever the ball; Gordon played the ball back firmly to the bowler, who fielded it well, and Guaranshu was run out. The field was now in, and Gordon tells MCA that he contemplated lifting the next ball over the infield, but, instead, got a Yorker that he played firmly on the ground to mid-off, enabling him and Vivek Barbhaiya to score the winning run with one ball to go, much to the delight of team mates and a significant number of supporters, many from the families of Brandon Dat and Jason Gobin. Gordon’s energetic fist punch at the end of that run was eloquent testimony to his relief, and, some minutes after he had reached the boundary, he reported that he could still feel “heart palpitations”.
After the excitement of the run chase, the hosts, led by head coach Derek Perera, staged a gracious awards ceremony, and USACCA left for their hotel and a cheerful final team meeting with the trophy in hand.
Pre-match warm-ups, supervised by physio and US international Triholder Marshall.
Winning coach Linden Fraser.
USACCA Captain Trevis Ross has the trophy at his feet as the two teams, USACCA coach Linden Fraser and physio Triholder Marshall, OCA Coach Derek Perera and USACCA manager Rahul Sharma gather for a final photograph.
All pictures except the second courtesy of the USACCA Cricket page on Facebook.