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America’s Cup Series
Massiah Upbeat As U.S Settle For Second Place


By Orin Davidson

USA national captain
Steve Massiah
(Photo by Shiek Mohamed)

A dramatic meltdown in their final match robbed the United States of the Americas Cup cricket title, but captain Steve messiah is nevertheless proud of his team’s second place finish in the series which concluded last weekend in Toronto Canada.

“A lot of people never thought we would’ve done this well, because we are a new-look team playing together for the first time, but it was an outstanding performance to place second,” the new captain told Cricket International on his return to New York.

Needing a victory over Canada to claim the crown after rain denied them the vital win in their previous game against eventual champions Bermuda, the U.S. suffered a surprising batting catastrophe, that allowed the home team to romp to an emphatic 10-wicket victory at the Maple Leaf ground last Sunday.

“Its unfortunate that Mother Nature stepped in and denied us the victory against Bermuda that we needed to win the competition, “ said Massiah whose side had the competition favorites on the ropes before, rain wiped out the second half of the game that ended as a no-result.

On the very next day, the U.S. team’s arch rivals Canada produced their best display of the series precipitated by their bowlers who routed Massiah and company for their lowest score in competition.

“It is one of those times when you have a bad day and the conditions did not help as the pitch had some moisture and we had to bat first,” explained Massiah.

The powerful top order batting which was mainly responsible for the U.S. posting the highest aggregate total of the competition, failed to explode at the wrong time and the under-used middle order did not grab the opportunity to make their name.

Massiah ended the competition as the leading runs scorer, but had the ill fortune to be run out against Canada which effectively sealed their fate as their other two most accomplished batsmen Sushil Nadkarni and Lennox Cush were unable to stem the tide of wickets.

Massiah is however not tearing his hair out at their last match performance.

“People must remember that this team was playing together for the very time and most importantly, we gelled immediately,” the captain said. “ To finish better that Canada who are going to the World Cup is a major accomplishment because only a few of us have ever represented the country before”.

He added that the display was well received by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

“ First of all they (ICC) happy to see us back in action in international competition and for us to finish second made them even more happier,” the right hand batsman declared.

Cricket in the United States has been wracked by administrative problems for the entire 2005 that surfaced before their dismal showing the 2007 World Cup Qualifying series last year when they failed to finish in the top five of Associate Member countries.

The disaster in Ireland resulted in a revamped squad which saw Massiah taking over the captaincy for the first time.

And like he has done so often in the past, Massiah produced like the scoring machine of all- time, compiling 283 runs from four games for a phenomenal average of 142.50.

It won him the best batting prize and the tournament’s Most valuable Prize (MVP) prize, which should’ve made him the happiest man around, but the batsman was more pleased his new look team was not embarrassed.

“When all is said and done, we should be happy that we had a young team which showed it could compete with the best in the Region without much preparation, which is a good thing for the future,” he proclaimed.

For his first stint as captain, Massiah said he prepared intensively on a personal level.

“I tried my best to be physically and mentally prepared, “I did more gym work than normal, I jogged a lot this time around and I think it helped”. The country’s premier batsman ended the competition, reeling off scores of 136 not out, 54 not out, 84 and 12 as a result.

The captain was very grateful to coach Mustaq Mohamed, the former Pakistan Test player whose late appointment only resulted in him meeting the players for the first time in Canada.

“He might not have known the players, but tactically he was a big plus for us,” added Massiah. “He had one-on- one sessions with us which was very helpful especially for the bowlers who learnt much about line and length.”

Massiah said he believes Mustaq’a stint was a one-off, but was impressed by the Pakistani’s work in the short time.

Being placed in a must win situation against Canada, the U.S. were bowled out for 116 in 32.4 overs, perishing to the spin of John Davison and Kevin Sandher and the seam bowling of Steve Welsh. Carl Wright top scored with 31 and Gowkaran Roopnarine contributed 25.

Massiah, in attempting a third run with Cush was run out for 12 while Nadkarni fell for one. Cush was also caught, hitting out for seven.

The middle order including Jignesh Desai and Niraj Shah also collapsed in a heap. Davison who was a thorn in the flesh of the U.S. the last time the two teams clashed in North America two years in the four-day inter Continental Cup, was the most
effective, capturing 3-22. Welsh chipped in with 2-35.

Riding their confidence Canada’s openers flayed the dis-spirited U.S. bowlers, racing to 119 without loss off only 16.3 overs. Davison cracked 48 and Sandeep Jyoti 47, both undefeated.

Bermuda ended with 14 points to the U.S,’s 10 while the Cayman Islands snatched third place from Canada via a better net run rate after both teams tied with eight points each. Argentina ended in the cellar with zero.
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