Friday Night Lights usually means high school football, but this past Friday it was College Cricket as the Southeast Championship began at the “American College Cricket” Stadium in Ft Lauderdale. American College Cricket President Lloyd Jodah batted the first ball and the game was underway!
The outfield looked immaculate and the pitch, prepared by international Curator Sam Plummer, brought in by BIG League USA, looked as desirable as……well let’s just say few things could give a man more pleasure. It was a bowler’s wicket, and with the evening winds and moistness the bowlers would get a lot of help so it was no surprise when Tampa won the toss and chose to field.
The University of Tampa Cricket Captain Kaushall Vadirraj said that when he made a presentation to his school, informing them that his team was going to compete against their cross-town “rival” the University of South Florida, as well as other Florida schools like the UF Gators, UCF, FIU, UMiami, and Auburn it was no problem getting support. Resplendent in their school’s red and gold colors the Tampa team took the field in their first American College Cricket game. USF was looking to confirm their standing as the top college in the Southeast, and move back up in the national ranking.
The USF Captain Sri Boddepalli and Ben Leo David steadied the USF batting and with a couple of lofted drives, a sweep and a cut for boundaries Boddeppali was rolling along as he had done many times before in American College Cricket and stroked a beautiful off-drive along the billiard-like surface for 4. Joined by David who made room & cut past square for 4, clipped one off the pads then took a full toss & hooked it for 6 over square. Boddepalli got on his knee and played his favorite again, a sweep then a beautiful on drive for 4’s as USF got to 132 for 2 wickets off their 20 overs. Boddepali made 47* and David 37*.
The winds were heavy as the U of Tampa began their inning. Vijay Sukhlani leaned back & placed one through the gap at backward point, then played a splendid cover drive for 4,But even Ishan Patel,17 and Ammad Hakim,15 found it tough to get the USF Bulls’ bowlers away.
Nevertheless the University of Tampa Spartans were never out of it when Captain Kaushall Vaddiraj smashed 2 might sixes there was hope in the Tampa camp. However USF restricted UT to 110 for 5 off their 20 overs and took the win. Boddepalli took 3 wickets for 12 runs to clinch the Game MVP.
The last time College Cricket was played at the Stadium was the Finals of the American College Cricket Spring Break Championship in March 2010. That event was a night game broadcast live on the web to thousands all over the USA, Canada and the world, and represented the first live broadcast of American cricket.