By Lloyd Jodah
Perhaps the ICC is waiting until after the completion of this tournament to announce any penalties against the home team, Nepal, for the crowd behavior the day before, as the same two teams USA and Nepal took the field to determine the first place winner. Singapore seems to be the loser in all this. On the plus side the games were being shown on Nepalese TV and the USA Team was getting unaccustomed media exposure.
Lennox Cush and Olando Baker opened the batting for USA, though this would have been a good opportunity to give one of the USA’s best young batsmen, Akeem Dodson a knock. Cush edged a 6 and 4 off the opening pace attack of Binod Das and Alam before going for a swipe and getting bowled by Das for 10. USA 19 for 1 and Steve Massiah strolled to the wicket.
By drinks Baker and Massiah had inched the score along to 73/1, with Baker on 34,Massiah on 18. Gaucham and Regmi tightened the screws further and it was 98 for 1 oof 26 overs.Massiah hit one to longon and the two batsmen made difficult going of what should have been an easy two, and Baker was run out for 49. USA 100 for 2.
The calling of wides in limited overs cricket for balls going down the legside has retricted bowlers, and also resulted in batsmen relying more on the pull shot, as the bowler bowls mostly to the off, with packed off-side fields. Sir Donald Bradman, master of the “crossbat” pull, would have made millions more runs under these rules. Nadkarni pulled one from outside off to squareleg for 4 to get off the mark. Massiah then took a shot at the Pepsi sign at midwicket for 6. USA 138 for 2 off 35 overs. 250 seemed difficult at this point, though USA had wickets in hand, and the in form Thyagarajan was still to come.
Nadkarni then tried to pull another from outside off, and was stumped for 17. Thyagarajan joined Massiah who brought up his 50 with a pull from outside off for 6 over midwicket! It was Massiah’s fourth fifty of the tournament. However it had taken him 111 balls. Going for another pull/sweep from outside proved to be Massiah’s ondoing as the ball took the top edge and went high in the air for the keep Gaucham to take a diving catch.
After this the USA batsmen seemed eager to field, and the side collapsed to 172 all out in 47.2 overs. No one from # 5 to the not out # 11 scored double figures. Vishvakarma bowled a magnificent spell of left arm spin of 8.2 overs for 15 runs, taking 7 wickets.
Anil Mandal and Mahesh Chhetri opened the batting for Nepal whilst Kevin Darlington and Usman Shuja, who had both bowled well in the previous game, comprised the USA opening attack. Nepal’s openers comfortably put on 85 before losing both quickly, Mandal made 37 off 66 balls, with 5 fours and 1 six, whilst Chettri compiled 28 in 73 balls with 3 fours.The batsmen didn’t need the wisdom of Buddha to understand that run rate was not an issue, it was more important to get a solid start.
Buoyed by the 12,000 strong crowd the Nepal side seemed shaky only twice, when they were 88 for 2 and 140 for 5 in 41.2 overs…The dangerous duo Khadka 5, and Vewsarkar 11 were dismissed cheaply by Cush and Shuja but the Nepalese soldiered on. Of course some of the greatest soldiers in world history, the Gurkhas, come from Nepal and northern India.
Some trash throwing onto the field by spectators revived thoughts of the previous day’s riot before Malla blasted a six and a four to give Nepal victory with 5 wickets to spare. The Stadium’s 10,000 spectators (some had left, perhaps to avoid any repetition of the day before) erupted, this time in celebration and the Nepal team took a victory lap, flag waving.
The USA team lost the game but will leave Nepal happy that they will move up to Group 4. Between now and August USA Cricket will no doubt have the team undergo intense preparation for that tournament -the first part of that preparation is a game against a touring MCC side on March 28 at the Central Broward Regional Park Cricket Stadium.