By John L. Aaron
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The Atlantic Region was today crowned the USA’s inaugural T20 champions, defeating the Central East Region by 42 runs at Weequahic Park, in New Jersey.
Atlantic Region had earlier in the day defeated the highly favored New York Region by five runs in possibly the most exciting match of the tournament. The five-run margin of victory does not quite paint the picture of excitement. With the Atlantic Region ratcheting up 160 for 5 in a contest that was reduced to 15 overs, the match came down to New York needing 18 runs off the final six legal deliveries.
New York had five wickets to give, 18 runs to score and six balls to face, but the wily and very stingy Neil McGarrell had the ball, the six deliveries, New York’s fate, as well as the match outcome in his hand. He would go on to give up two sixes off the first two deliveries and take four wickets off the next four, and that was the match and New York’s hopes of getting to the championship match.
As dreamcricket.com’s Peter Della Penna penned live – “McGarrell to Adams. SIX! Full on the legs, slammed over midwicket. SIX! Full toss outside off, hit high over cover. six needed off four balls. OUT! Full delivery, tried to end the match and leg stump is out of the ground. Adams gone and there’s another twist yet. Karan Ganesh the new man in. OUT! Gives it more flight and Ganesh is beaten coming down the track stumped first ball. McGarrell is on a hat trick and NY needs six to win in two balls. NY 156/7 in 14.4. Andy Mohammed to face. OUT! Flighted full, Mohammed swipes across, beaten in turn and it’s a hat trick for McGarrell. This is unreal! NY needs six to win off the final ball. Adrian Gordon to face. OUT! Stumped again. New York needed six off four balls to win and McGarrell takes four in four to end the match. What an incredible finish! Atlantic wins by five runs and will face Central West in the championship!”
The Atlantic Region would take the momentum and energy of defeating New York into the championship match against the Central East Region, and the final match and championship of the inaugural T20 USA national tournament.
Central East won the toss and elected to field, a decision many of the Monday-morning quarterbacks at the ground would label as a tremendous mistake, given the outcome of most of the matches played over the past two days. The Atlantic Region would score a impressive 133 for 3 off of the 12 overs the two teams would each be given to decide the 2011 T20 champions!
With New York in their rear view mirror and the wind behind their sails, the Atlantic Region would make light work of the Central East XI, restricting them to a response 42 runs short of the 134 needed to take the championship trophy out of the state of New Jersey.
Gowkaran Roopnarine was named MVP of the tournament, finishing with 193 runs and an average of 96.5.