By John Aaron
Team USA with a 2-0 record going into the third match series of the ICC’s World Cricket League Division 5 tournament, won the toss and elected to bat against Jersey, to whom it had lost in 2008. Whether it was the hazy and humid conditions that contributed to what can only be described as a frightening start for the North American squad, is still being debated. However, this time history would not repeat itself, as the USA resurged on to a 66-run victory over the Jersey boys, although it was not as easy as the final scores reflect.
Opening with Sushil Nadkarni and Orlando Baker, the USA were soon experiencing technical difficulties in Kirtipur, Nepal, as Nadkarni was bowled after scoring a solitary run in the second over. Skipper Steve Massiah who had two excellent outings with the bat in victories over Fiji and Bahrain was only able to scratch a single also, before being caught with the USA tally at a ghastly three runs. The ghost of the Channel Islands and the earlier defeat of the USA by the Jersey boys appeared to be visiting the USA camp.
This time it was the reliable Cush who earlier had enjoyed two excellent trips to the middle against Fiji and Bahrain, who ducked back into the USA’s tent having only chalked up five runs off 15 deliveries, with the score on 11.
The Jersey opening pair of bowlers Ryan Driver and Australian-born Matt Hague placed the clamps firmly down on the USA’s top-order batsmen, as the USA lost its fourth wicket at 30, with Baker exiting after posting 20, c & b Driver. Exactly 10 overs later and the addition of 25 runs, Sudesh Dhaniram would record a disappointing nine runs in 19 balls. USA 55 for 5 in 22.1 overs.
The USA was looking for someone to step up and stop the hemorrhaging, as the overs sans runs crept up on the batsmen. The critical care nurses would be Carl Wright and Aditya Thyagarajian. The two went to work soon after the exit of the Jersey opening pair of bowlers Driver 10-1-25-3 and Hague 10-1-23-1. The USA pair clinically dispatched the Jersey back up crew in a stunning partnership of 118 runs, before Wright was dismissed for a well-played 76 (7x4s, 1×6) off 120 balls. This was the partnership that propelled the USA to victory.
In stepped Field Marshall Rashard (for the record you may wish to reverse those last two words for the batsman’s real name). Rashard Marshall met Thyagarajian (83 not out) who was well on his way to a first-class ODI century, but reassured the partisan crowd that he was in the house, establishing his presence with a blistering display of power-hitting as he made the second crop Jersey bowlers pay dearly. The hard-hitting sturdy right-hander scorched 42 runs not out off 21 balls with 5x6s. The Field Marshall owned the Tribhuvan University ground at Kirtipur, as he had the crowd in a frenzy yelling for more sixes, as the USA middle-order bats made a resurgence from 55 for 5 in 22.1 overs to 253 for 6 in the allotted 50 overs.
Despite the awesome display of power-hitting by Marshall, it was the steady and self-assuring inning of Thyagarajian’s 83 n.o. off 82 balls with 7x4s and 2x6s, along with Wright’s vital earlier contribution of 76, which was the spine of the USA inning, and kept the situation from becoming a total disaster. Carl Wright was later adjudged Man-of-the-Match for his sterling contribution is helping the USA stabilize its inning.
The USA middle-order was particularly harsh on twin bowlers Jonny Gough 9-0-58-1 and Peter Gough, 8-0-60-0 as the pair was gouged for a combined total of 118 runs off 17 overs with only one wicket to show for their troubles. The USA batsmen also roughed up Ben Stevens 10-1-48-1 and Andy Dewhurst 2-0-28-0. USA batsmen now occupy six of the top ten individual run production slots of the tournament, with five of them having recorded 100 or more runs over the three matches so far. Only Carl Wright with 99 misses that exalted position, so far.
It was a remarkable come back by Team USA to post 253 runs off 50 overs when it all seemed nigh impossible with the top-order reliable batsmen crumbling away. It is a testimony to the depth of batting within the USA squad, that on any given day if three of the top five batsmen were to post 60 runs each off of any 25 overs, the USA would bring pressure to bear of the opposing team. It would appear as though the USA did exactly that against Jersey, as Jersey must have been kicking themselves at the conclusion of the USA’s inning, and asking themselves how could they have allowed the USA to creep back into the match in such a splendid fashion. The USA wickets fell 2; 3; 11; 30; 55 and 173.
Responding to the USA’s 253, Jersey opened with left-hander Dean Morrison – Jersey’s Cricketer of the Year and Matt Hague, but quickly lost Hague for six in the seventh over with the score on 15, caught wktpr. Wright off Darlington. Hague was followed Peter Gough, 24, stumped Wright off the bowling of Cush, who struck again with an lbw decision against Morrison for 36. Jersey 76 for 3. Darlington would come back 42 runs later to disturb the stumps of Samuel de la Haye, who had an aggressive 36 off 32 balls including 2x4s, 3x6s of power-hitting.
Jersey continued to struggle against some splendid bowling by the USA and despite a few dropped catches, were not able to explode a la the USA on a pitch that seemed to aid the bowlers on such a muggy day. Samuel de la Haye and opener Dean Morrison each contributed 36, while Andy Dewhurst scored 34 and Ryan Driver, 29. Once Jersey’s top order five batsmen fell for an average of 26 runs each, the tail collapsed in a heap, as Cush 10-1-37-4 and Verma 4-0-19-3 wrapped things up for the USA. However, it was a remarkable spell by Sudesh Dhaniram 10-2-30-0 that contained the Jersey batsmen, who later fell to Messrs. Cush and Verma, and following Darlington’s two-part spell of 10-1-40-2. The Jersey wickets fell at 15; 67; 76; 118; 128; 169; 172; 183 and 186, as the Jersey boys succumbed to the USA at 187 for 9 in 50 overs, 66 runs shy of their target.
At times Jersey struggled as much as the USA did to scratch runs on the board, however, the difference today was the depth of the USA’s batting and the stinginess of its bowlers. It was a fantastic all round victory for the USA, who now maintains an unbeaten record of 3-0 alongside host Nepal, and going into tomorrow’s match against 2-1 Singapore at Lalitpur.
GO TEAM USA!