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USA Under-19 Top Bats Reheat In Clash With PNG
Scores 116-run victory Over Papua New Guinea

By John L. Aaron
Jan. 12th, 2010 | (Scorecard)
In a rain-shortened 41-overs warm-up match against Papua New Guinea (PNG), the USA Under-19 top-order willows reheated after three very cold warm-up matches against a Canterbury Under-17, Hong Kong and the red-hot India. The USA scored a decisive 116-run victory over PNG today at beautiful but small Lincoln Green University ground just outside Christchurch. The USA scored 286 all out in 40.5 of their allotted 41 overs.

Azrudeen Mohamed (top) and Henry Wardley (below) scored half centuries against PNG. Photos by Shiek Mohamed.

Winning the toss and electing to bat, was definitely an opportunity to get the USA some much needed crease time for its faltering top order batsmen. The first six of Joshi, Taylor, Sewdial, Corns, Vashishat and Mohammed only averaged only 68.50 combined for the first four matches played, or 11.42 runs per man in the previous four warm-up matches. Those numbers included 60* from Corns, 28 from Sewdial and 26 from Joshi. Going into the match against PNG Corns was topping the averages for the six players named with an average of 21.5, followed by Sewdial with 15.75, and Taylor with 12.75. Hardly numbers you would expect from your frontline batsmen.

However, with the top order performance against PNG, it appears as though the USA frontline bats have reheated. The USA enjoyed the best opening stand thus far, in this warm-up series of matches leading up to the ICC’s 2010 Under-19 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand. Steven Taylor and Henry Wardley put together an opening stand of 112, before Taylor was c & b Charles Amini for 57 off 38 deliveries including 5x4s and 4x6s. Taylor extended his stay at the crease in this match and made a worthwhile contribution. It was a valuable contribution against a team that had beaten the USA by one wicket last September in Canada. Young he might be, but Steven Taylor has already shown skills beyond his years, and in this match he demonstrated why he is in New Zealand with the USA Under-19 team. His strike-rate of 150.00 was enough to take the wind out of the sails of the PNG’s opening bowlers.

At the other end Wardley was no slouch, as he chalked up a well-made 54 off 65 balls with 6x4s and 1x6, departing six runs behind Taylor.

However, the partnership gave the USA the kind of start they would need against the top teams down the road. Taylor still needs to be patient and wait to punish the errant delivery. If he does that, the ninth-grader may very well be the individual surprise entry in this year’s World Cup. Wardley’s contribution is long overdue and he batted responsibly at the demanding top spot. He is beginning to move his feet, and that may very well earn him a starting block on the inside track, with his gutsy performance alongside the hammering Steven Taylor.

Ryan Corns nursing a sore arm did not hang around very long, cashing in his chip for two runs in this match, after such a brilliant performance of 60 not out against the giant India. Let’s hope he is rested and well enough, as the franchise player will be needed in the tough Group B. With Corns back in the seats, the left-handed Andy Mohammed showed that the top order bats could burn brightly, by stroking 57 off 51 balls, while blasting 5x4s and 2x6s. Greg Sewdial an experienced turf-wicket batsman made a quick-fire 35 off 19 balls, hitting 6x4s and 1x6 in his Flash Gordon appearance on stage. Rounding out the top-order contributors were all-rounder Regis Burton, 23, and captain Shiva Vashishat, 21.

Mohammad Ghous struck gold against PNG taking 4 for 36 from 9 overs that included 2 maidens. Photo by Shiek Mohamed.

In this match, the tail-enders were allowed to dial up single digits, except for Saami Siddiqui, run-out when on 10. The USA wickets fell at 112 (Taylor), 118 (Wardley), 143 (Vashishat), 143 (Corns), 190 (Sewdial), 235 (Burton), 252 (Shahid), 252 (Ghous), 273 (Mohammed), 286 (Siddiqui).

Charles Amini was the pick of the PNG bowlers with figures of 9-0-68-4, skipper Jason Kila grabbed 2 for 68 off 8 overs, while Tom and Mou each enjoyed one USA scalp apiece. There were two run-outs.

All in all it was a splendid performance against a team that although not rated among the top teams at this tournament, had given the USA some degree of difficulty, in the latter’s loss during their qualifying encounter in Toronto last year.

The significance of the USA batting finding its touch on a ground named after an American President could be overstated, but the USA team really did give its supporters something to cheer about today. Of course many would have liked to see Taylor, Mohammed, or Wardley bat on to become centurions, but three batsmen making 50's is a statement that this team has what it takes to compete with the best. It is times like these that show glimmers of hope, and what USA cricket could do with more top-quality match practice for its players. Not to mention turf wickets. Yesterday, the bespectacled USA spinner Yash Shah, said, "I feel something big is going to happen," and he was right.  

Hammad Shahid and Naseer Jamali opened the pace attack for the USA. Pacer Jamali commenting earlier, on being in the World Cup, remarked, "It has been great. It’s like a dream come true." He added that he had learnt a lot from New Zealand coach Dipak Patel.

The USA’s response in defending their total of 286 all out, with an asking rate 7.0, was go at the PNG batsmen with everything in the bowling department. Skipper Shiva Vashishat had earlier said that if his batsmen put up a decent score, he was confident that the USA had the bowlers to get the job done.

Well, the USA bowlers responded to the skippers call by dominating the PNG batsmen and restricting them to 170 all out in 38.3 overs. Muhammad Asad Ghous was brilliant, enjoying figures of 4 for 36 off his 9 overs with 2 maidens. Naseer Jamali had figures of 6-2-17-2, and Burton, Shahid, Mohammed, and Saleem each had one wicket apiece in the victory. Ghous may very well be the USA bowler of this World Cup, because of his consistence and how he applies himself to the task at hand. The young man has a very good future ahead of him.

To the credit of PNG; after a disastrous start of 15 for 3, they rallied back to make a go of it with a 38-run fourth wicket partnership. However, that was 38 runs too long for the USA bowlers, who struck and struck often, between 106 for 6 and all out at 170. PNG skipper Jason Kila stood firm with 34 (5x4s and 1x6) alongside number six batsman Lega Tau, 45 off 46 balls with 4x4s and 2x6s, and the analysis would show that the PNG middle-order made a go of it, but was unable to sustain any lengthy rallies.

The PNG wickets fell at 2, 4, 15, 53, 61, 106, 150, 150, 168, and 170 at a response run rate of 4.42 per over. It was a sweet victory for the Team USA, who narrowly lost to PNG during the qualifying rounds in Canada, but also during a week that saw them drop warm-up matches to a Canterbury Under-17 team, Hong Kong and India.

The victory over PNG must serve as a morale booster, not only for the team, but its top-order batsmen, who have been flagging. Now with the exception of Ryan Corns’ sore arm, the others must realize that if they post decent scores, their bowling peers will make positive things happen.
Congratulations on a decisive victory and at the right time Team USA.
Lloyd Jodah contributed to this article.

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