American Cricket Federation
Over the weekend, the inaugural North American Cricket Championship (NACC) was contested in warm and sunny Phoenix, Arizona. The three-match, 40-over series was swept by the formidable Canadian squad from Toronto, which boasted a number of players with previous international experience. The event was hosted by the Arizona Cricket Association, which is led by President Rod Gohil.
ACF champion Midwest Cricket Conference represented the United States, while Canada was represented by Toronto.
The weather on all three days was warm and sunny, but a surprise rainstorm from the previous weekend was still making its impact felt on the pitch for the first match, which was a boon for the spinners.
Toronto won the first coin toss, and recognizing the challenge, sent Midwest in to bat. As expected, the spinners fared well, and Midwest fought hard to get to 110 before being bowled out in the 29th over.
Chasing a relatively small total, Toronto was also quickly in distress, at one point being 47 for 5 in the 10th over. Opener Ali Nabeel (46) and teammate Hassan Choghtai (18) steadied the ship, however, as they methodically built an unbeaten 64-run partnership, which brought their side a five-wicket victory.
Naeem Hasham and Ragunath Soogoor each took three wickets in the Canadian victory, while Raza Ur Rehman contributed two. For Midwest, N. Bakshi took three wickets.
Day Two saw a new wicket that much more in it for the batsmen, and Midwest, having won the toss, happily elected to bat first. The decision was rewarded as Midwest raced to 259-9 in its 40 overs, with Abhijit Joshi top-scoring at 66, including six boundaries, while Ashhar Mehdi chipped in with 37 and Mannan Patel added 29.
A century opening wicket partnership between skipper Shaheed Keshvani (48) and Rustam Bhatti (80), bolstered by a blistering 50-ball 73 by Raza Ur Rehman ensured that Toronto would gain the NACC Cup. Winning by five wickets with just five balls to spare, the match was touch-and-go the entire way, but in the end, the Canadian batsmen proved too strong.
Arsalan Qadir nabbed two wickets in Toronto’s cup-clinching win, while Midwest’s Mannan Patel also had two scalps.
Raza Ur Rehman is presented with a Hammer Cricket bat as the NACC’s top run-scorer by Rod Gohil of the Arizona Cricket Association
The third match was played with pride at stake, as the Americans looked to avoid a whitewash, and the Canadians set out to prove their dominance. Toronto won its second toss of the series and decided to bat.
Playing freely, however, Toronto quickly found itself in trouble, being reduced to 61-5 in the 14th over. Still, if one thing had been demonstrated in this series, it was the ability of the Canadians to battle back, and battle back they did, largely on the shoulders of Ur Rehman, who finished on an unbeaten 116, the NACC’s only century.
Soogoor chipped in with a handy half-century himself, as Toronto built a splendid innings of 243-7, despite the solid performance of Donieke Perrin, who nabbed four Canadian wickets.
Midwest, perhaps feeling the effects of three back-to-back 40 overs matches, batted determinedly, but found itself no match for the inspired Toronto bowling attack, finishing at 168 in the 36th over.
Afterwards, Toronto received its well-earned reward as captain Keshvani accepted the NACC Cup, and the squad erupted into a wild, champagne-soaked celebration. Ur Rehman was presented with a Hammer Cricket bat as the NACC’s top run scorer, and both captains were given autographed copies of the recently published ‘Flannels on the Sward,’ a history of cricket in the Americas penned by author Jayesh Patel.
“I would like to thank the American Cricket Federation and the Arizona Cricket Association, in particular Mike Thomas and Rod Gohil,” said Keshvani. “We played the tournament like gentlemen and would like to thank the Midwest team for doing the same. Cricket in America is extremely lucky to have the ACF, and we wish you all the success in the future.
“Also, I want to say we felt that the NACC was very professionally run. We would be honored to defend our title and be a part of this prestigious event for years to come.”
Midwest’s former president Mohammed Iftikhar said, “On behalf of the Midwest Cricket Conference, I would like to thank entire ACF. It was an honor to play great talent at a top-notch facility, and the tournament was very well organized.”
ACF CEO Jamie Harrison said, “It was wonderful to see two such great squads be able to come out in this beautiful venue and play great cricket. The matches were all well-contested, and the teams represented their countries admirably.
“I also want to take a moment to thank Rod Gohil and the Arizona Cricket Association, which conducted this event flawlessly, and saw to every need and eventuality. It was truly a pleasure to work with Rod and his team, and I can’t wait for next year.”
For those planning ahead, the 2015 NACC will be held on March 6-8 in Phoenix. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.
Jamie Harrison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for any media related information.