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From The Doghouse To The Quasi-Penthouse

By Ray Sundar

Feb. 10th, 2009
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In the recently concluded ICC Americas Cricket Tournament in Florida the US team came out like gangbusters, emerging victorious among the lower echelons of international cricket.

In a radical departure from its previous disastrous foray in the West Indies sponsored ODI tournament in Guyana where it lost three of four matches, with the fourth falling victim to inclement weather, the US won all five matches to become undisputed champs.

World Cricket League Division 5
Prior to the Guyanese experience the US- just granted a reprieve by the ICC from its doghouse, performed poorly in the World Cricket League Division 5 Tournament in Jersey as it failed miserably to qualify for the 2011 World Cup extravaganza, falling victim to “powerhouse” Jersey.

The mandate was crystal clear – emerge among top 2 and qualify for the next round. The US did well in the preliminary rounds, defeating a string of minnows – Mozambique, Norway, Vanuatu and Germany.

Chasing 190 for victory against Nepal, the US cricketers probably looked at this imposing total the way mountaineers gauge Mt. Everest. Wow! 5.5 miles up!

The chase began in earnest, but quickly ran into Alam, Nepal’s fast bowler. Judging by the results of his initial spell, bowling Baker for 0 and trapping captain Massiah lbw for 0, he must have looked as imposing as the dizzying heights of Everest.

They slumped badly to 29/4 before capitulating at 93. Alam took 2/8. Earlier Nepal rattled up189.

In the semi-final, pursuing Jersey’s 220, the US was dismissed for a paltry 136 and unceremoniously dumped from the 2011 World Cup. Nadkarni and Shula excelled for the US in the tournament.

2008 ICC Americas Cup winner USA.

WICB ODI Cricket Tournament
Scheduled to play 4 matches, the US lost 3 and rain mercifully took care of the other.
On November 14, ’08 at Providence Stadium in Guyana, chasing Barbados’ revised total of 259, at an asking rate of 6.17, the US crashed to an ignominous defeat when they scored 149/9.

On November 15, ’08 the clouds opened and rain wreaked havoc, resulting in the match against Jamaica being called off. Daren Ganga’s Trinidad sent the US packing on November 17, ’08.

In a rain shortened match on November 18, ‘08 at Everest Cricket Club, the US slumped to 127/7 off 27 overs. The Combined Campus and Colleges secured victory in 24.3 overs.

The Americas Tournament
The ICC Americas Tournament saw the US steamrolled its opponents – Suriname, Argentina, Bermuda, Cayman Islands and Canada, pulverizing them into submission as Sushil Nadkarni pretended to be Sachin for a few days, carrying the team on his broad shoulders.

USA blitzed Suriname 11/25/08
In its very first match of the ICC Americas Division 1 Tournament in Florida, against fellow minnows-Suriname, the US scored a mammoth 365 for the loss of 9 wickets off 50 overs.

Sushil Nadkarni’s unbridled aggression led the onslaught, accounting for 197 runs off 132 deliveries. In the process he launched 9x6s and dispatched 22x4s which hopped and skipped merrily to the boundary. Captain Steve Massiah chipped in with an aggressive 62 off 53 deliveries. He smacked 7x4s and 1x6.

An emasculated, defanged and depleted Suriname, in the aftermath of visa woes, started their response as though meek lambs being led to the abattoir. Their batting collapsed, folding like a deck of cheap cards in the face of a ferocious tsunami- Timmy Allen. Along with Orlando Baker, they routed Suriname for a meager 60. In a mesmerizing spell, Allen’s wizardry enabled him to take 5 wickets for 7 runs in 5.3 overs with 2 maidens. Baker took 2 for 22.

USA defeats Argentina by 7 wickets 11/26/08
Perhaps conjuring images of a rampaging Sunil Gavaskar on the warpath against the West Indies, Sushil Nadkarni, the 32 year old aggressive opening batsman from India, scored an impressive second consecutive century. His explosive 109 against Argentina off 116 balls contained 12x4s and 3x6s and led the US to 203/3 (in response to Argentina) and ultimately victory.

Earlier Hamish Barton’s 74 restored some respectability as Argentina reached 200/9. Imran Awan was the pick of the bowlers, taking 2 for 16.

USA wins by 86 runs 11/27/08
Tottering on the brink on 116/5 in the 31st over, Rashad Marshall’s 71 restored some semblance of order in leading the US to 254/7. Aditya Thyagarajan contributed a well- played 42.

An 83 run third wicket partnership failed to save Bermuda, an Associate Member of the ICC, the ignominy of defeat at the hands of the upstart USA, basically a team made up of transplanted Guyanese, West Indians, Indians and Pakistanis. Their total of 168/9 was well-short of the 255 required for victory. Lionel Cain top scored with 78 (9x4s). Sudesh Dhaniram and Imran Awan took 2/18 and 3/16 respectively.

Canada loses to US 11/29/08
The US defeated Canada, an Associate member of the ICC and one of the strongest teams in the tournament, by 81 runs. Aditya Tharagarajan accounted for 84 in the US total of 201. In an embarrassing response, Baker (6/31) and Awan (3/14) routed Canada for 120.

11/08 USA – ICC Americas Cup Champs
Again Sushil Nadkarni put willow to leather as he and Carl Wright shared an opening partnership of 194, as the US, batting first, scored 289/6 off 49 overs. Wright blasted 7x4s and 2x6s in his entertaining knock of 112 off 105 deliveries. Nadkarni was a bit more subdued, hammering 10x4s in his 103 ball 84.

Due to rain interruptions the match was called with Cayman Islands struggling on 65/4 off 24 overs. Aditya Thyagarajan took 2/19.

This victory ensured the US remained unbeaten and crowned first time winner of the tournament. Sushil Nadkarni was the player of the tournament.

Is this 5-0 drubbing of their opponents in the Americas Cup enough to obliterate the stench of the hitherto abysmal record? Is it enough to atone for past misdeeds and indiscretions? Though I am inclined to answer in the negative to both, it may be a defining moment in the resuscitation of US cricket. Not yet merit residency in the pantheon of stars but …….hey, it is okay to dream – “more things are wrought by prayers than this world dreams of”. In any event this small step to right USACA’s lurching and apparent rudderless ship warrants hearty congratulations.
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Aren't you being a tad harsh on the Surinamese, "An emasculated, defanged and depleted Suriname, in the aftermath of visa woes, started their response as though meek lambs being led to the abattoir. Their batting collapsed, folding like a deck of cheap cards in the face of a ferocious tsunami- Timmy Allen". It was their first outing at this level, and given that they were weakened by visa problems, it was surely expected that USA would win. They did crush Suriname with some authority, but the bowling,while quite nippy was aided by a minefield of a wicket. One wonders if the USA batsmen had to face some real pace on that wicket (which Suriname did not have) the match might have been relocated. So even though USA were the better team,that description of their victory is in my opinion a litle over the top.
Posted by Raj on February 16th, 2009.

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