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Central West 20-20 Championship Report
The Austin Cricket Team traveled to Dallas this past holiday weekend to compete in an exciting 20/20 tournament. The other teams represented in the tournament were Houston, Dallas, and (in the absence of Colorado) a Board XI that was essentially comprised of additional players from the 3 cities.
Austin showed fight, cohesiveness, and determination throughout the tournament. Even though we lost all three games, we showed that we can compete with the other teams; and when we play mistake-free cricket, we are a very difficult team to beat.
The following is a brief summary of each match.
CTCL v. NTCA (Dallas)
Austin won the toss and elected to bat. We started briskly, with Supratim and Amit Lopes each finding the bowling to his liking. However, we lost wickets at regular intervals, and were not able to post as big a score as we would have liked. There were a few contributions of note, without anyone getting a big score; Prabhu J, Ruchir, and Satish scored a few runs down the order, with a flurry from Ruchir in the final over getting us to a competitive 141.
We started in the field wonderfully; Supratim and Guru were bang on target to start with. No wides, and importantly, only 1 no-ball between them throughout the innings (the resultant free hit was a single). The backup bowlers (Anjan, Humayun, and Zubair) were just as miserly, and even with a stiff wind from the south consistently blowing at 30 mph, we managed to keep Dallas behind the required rate.
The most important determinant of the match, however, was that we failed to take the several chances that we had to dismiss Dallas’ star batsman, Rahul Kukreti. We dropped him a few times (including the balls he hit in the air that were misjudged by the fielders due to the wind). And in the end, even though they went into the last 4 overs needing around 36 runs to win, a well-set Rahul made sure that we paid for our mistakes.
The final margin of victory was by about 4 wickets, with 6 balls to spare. Rahul scored about 75 to lead Dallas to victory; for CTCL, Guru, Anjan, and Zubair were among the wicket-takers.
CTCL v. HCL
The toss in this match was redundant, as our preference would have been to bat first, and Houston’s to bowl first. For the record, we lost the toss and were put in to bat. Supratim and Ruchir started for us, and again tried to get off to a flyer. Even though Supratim went early, Ruchir showed great ability in his opening spot. When the wind was at his back (again at about 30 mph), he went big, as a HUGE 6 in the first over landed 15 yds outside of the rope at long-on. He was joined by Prabhu, Satish, and the birthday boy Chakri, and followed by Zubair and Amit Lopes. Again- solid contributions down the order without anyone getting a really big score; but Ruchir with his start (47 or so) and Amit at the end with a few lusty blows (44*) put us in the position where the bowlers had a decent target of 157 to aim at.
As opposed to Dallas with their all-rightie lineup, Houston has several lefties in their batting order. This was probably a significant factor in our opening bowlers finding it difficult to put the ball in the right areas. Ryan Corns and captain Sushil Nadkarni were very severe on anything that was wayward in either line or length, and as a result, HCL started their reply very quickly. We had a few moments of brilliance, and the wicket of Sushil for 50-odd was cause for enthusiasm, but the writing was on the wall with Ryan taking the attack to our bowlers, and Amir Nanji continuing where Sushil left off.
In the end, Houston achieved victory by 9 wickets with around 5 overs to spare. And in a cruel twist of fate that added injury to insult, captain Humayun Bashir took a smash in the infield off of his knee-cap, ending his contribution to the Austin cause for the rest of the tournament.
CTCL v. Board XI
Given the injury situation with Humayun, it was decided that we would play the last game with a mix of experienced and up-and-coming players in the Austin XI. So Satish, Chakri, Humayun, and Abid M sat for this match, and Paul Patel, Qasim, Basit, Shahzad, and Faisal took the field with the rest of the core players, led by Zubair and Guru.
We again batted fist, with Supratim and Ruchir. Supratim was unfortunate to go first ball, and Ruchir, after a great cameo, fell to a caught-and-bowled opportunity. Prabhu came in and played his best innings of the tourney; he batted smartly and without risk, while punishing any bowler who dared to drop short. He was supported by a few cameos down the order, and when Zubair and Guru attacked in the last few overs, we had a very respectable score of 180 or so on the board.
We started off bowling well; the plan was to bowl all seamers into the wind, and the spinners would have the batsmen hit into the wind. This worked for a while, and we were able to contain the Board XI batsmen. But our bowling eventually got a bit ragged, and we were not able to withstand the late charge by the batsmen. We lost in the last over, with the batting side successfully chasing down and overhauling what was thought to be a competitive score.
Overall, a great learning experience for Team Austin. When we played our strongest side, we showed that we can stand toe to toe with anyone in the region. There were several wonderful performances; Amit, Ruchir, Zubair, and especially Prabhu stood out with the bat; and Guru, Anjan, Supratim, and Zubair managed to keep the opposition bats quiet for the most part.
Our main takeaway from this tournament is that if we play mistake-free cricket, we are able to defeat any team; this augurs well for our league as we seek to establish ourselves among the best in the country.
As a final confirmation of the skill level demonstrated by the CTCL players, we are pleased to announce that three of our players have been named to the Central West Probables list. This is a list of 18 of the best players in the tournament, from which the representative team for the Central West region will be chosen.
Congratulations to Amit Lopes, Supratim Srinivasan, and Ruchir Chhabra- the entire CTCL family is proud of you!
FYI- photos of the weekend are available at the following link: www.CentralWestCricketTourney.Shutterfly.com.
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