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CCA tour to India

CCA Wins 5 games to 3 against various District level teams of Gujarat, India. 

Here is the Game Report - 

 

Summary of Games:

 

·      Game 1 against Saurashtra U-14 – Saurashtra U-14 won the game

 

After almost three days of travel that included planes (including a twenty hour layover) taxis and buses the USA Select U-14 finally arrived in Rajkot for their first game of their jam packed eight-game tour. They were greeted with top notch arrangements, a most ideal outfield never seen on US grounds and a sunny yet mild day very reminiscent of California conditions in the Fall. As they had had no practice together as a team they were pretty much forced to use the first game as a practice game trying to give all of their bowlers a shot and trying to figure out which of the batsmen might need some extra time to adjust to the new conditions. USA won the toss and chose to field to size up the conditions and give their bowlers a chance to warm up their bowling arms. Gaurav and Samet began steadily and did not concede a boundary until the fifth over and a wide until the fourth. Spin was introduced in the ninth over and USA tasted success right after in the 10th over when Mohak got the settling opener Arjun caught by Vivek. There were meaningful contributions from Saurashtra’s top order with Ravi Nimavat top scoring with 45 off 56 and Kevin 34 off 42 before both succumbed to Mohak. Mohak ended up with the most impressive figures of 6/35 in his 7 overs. Vivek Narayan also bowled very impressively for 2/23 in his 8 overs. USA used all of nine bowlers and Saurashtra ended up with a competitive 173/9 in their 40 overs.

 

Things began dramatically in USA’s innings when they lost their first two wickets in the first two overs itself! Akhil and Vivek then had a bit of a recovery but then Vivek also fell trying to force the pace. Mohak joined Akhil and the recovery continued. But just as Akhil seemed to getting into his groove scoring at almost a run a ball he holed out to long off trying to take the aerial route once too often. He scored 33 off 36 with 4 fours. From then on it was wickets at regular intervals and USA found themselves 9 down in the 26th over itself. At this time the youngest pair of Shopnavo and Samet showed the senior players how to play straight on turf wickets and defied the Saurashtra attack for almost ten overs adding twelve runs in the process and allowing the US to cross into three figures (102) and give their total a modicum of respectability. It was clear that the US team needed to do a lot of soul searching.

 

Saurashtra – 173/9 in 40 overs

USA U-14 – 102/10 in 35

 

·      Game 2 – USA Against Saurashtra U-14 – USA won the game.

 

The US team was determined to do better in the next game on the same venue against pretty much the same team but for a couple of changes. They won the toss and elected to bat this time determined to last their 40 overs. They also shuffled their batting line up in the spirit of giving more batsmen the chance to come into form by letting them spend more time in the middle. They opened with Maulin and Vivek and Maulin was particularly circumspect determined to gauge the pace of the wicket and conditions before unfurling his strokes for which he is well known.  They had some decent partnerships of the top-order including two fifty run partnerships for the 3rd and 4th wicket between Maulin and Nandan and then Nandan and Mohak respectively.  Maulin gave a very able demonstration on how to build an innings as he scored only four singles off his first 30 balls but then hit 8 boundaries with his last three scoring shots all boundaries before falling four short of a 50 (46 off 71).  In a real positive for team USA, all the five top order batsmen scored in double figures with Nandan also helping himself to a well compiled 41 off 51 balls.

 

With a fabulous platform set up in the 35th over of 172/4 and a score exceeding 200 well within reach the US team imploded folding to 180 all out in 38 overs with five needless run outs! It was really an anticlimactic finish to a most promising batting performance.

 

Gaurav and Samet again opened the bowling and kept it quiet until the sixth over. But then the floodgates opened and Kevin helped himself to four consecutive boundaries in Gaurav’s 4th over as he continued to pitch short. The fifty was brought up in the 9th over itself with no loss and Saurashtra seemed to have their chase under control. But then Mohak struck with two blows in one over to draw first blood trapping Arjun LBW and then getting captain Daivat stumped off a wide ball courtesy some smart work behind the stumps by Nandan. The drama didn’t end there as Akhil then trapped Pranav LBW with the first ball of his very next over with a quicker one and suddenly Saurashtra found themselves 63/3 after being 63/0 just an over ago! In walked Ravi who had played well in the first game but he didn’t last long here as he too got trapped by Akhil LBW twenty runs later – 83/4. At this time it was anyone’s game and Kevin and Jairaj began rebuilding. Kevin completed a well deserved fifty and was motoring along at more than a run a ball when a spectacular catch at point by Akhil off a full blooded square cut only had Kevin shaking his head in disbelief and walking back to the hut (114/5 in the 22nd over).  Kevin had a compiled a superb 68 off just 62 balls with ten fours! Saurashtra had maintained a comfortable run rate but now had to protect their wickets. Mohak then got rid of Jairaj in the 26th over caught by Gauranshu and Saurashtra’s tail was exposed. Mohak then delivered the knockout punch in his very next over claiming two more wickets off consecutive deliveries to leave Saurashtra precariously placed at 132/8 with almost fifty runs still to get. This was Mohak’s second five-for in as many games – an amazing bowling performance despite him being a bit expensive. This gave the US team some breathing room to try out some of their junior bowlers and Shopnavo came on to bowl and claimed the 9th wicket. Vivek finished off the innings in the 37th over and the US team prevailed by a comfortable margin of 27 runs to square the series in Saurashtra.

 

It was heartening to see that the US team had regrouped after their first loss and was willing to fight even in tough situations.

 

·      Game 3 against Ahmedabad District- Ahmedabad District won the game

 

A rest day turned out to be the third consecutive day of cricket for the US boys on their return to Ahmedabad as the schedule had to be adjusted to account for ground availability. A red soil wicket welcomed the US team at the Railway ground in Ahmedabad as opposed to the black soil wicket they had played in Rajkot. Despite the unknown conditions USA opted to bat on winning the toss and was in trouble right away with Akhil given out caught behind in the second over itself. Nandan fell similarly in the fourth and then when Mohak mistimed a pull right after a superb boundary, the US was reduced to 25/3 in the sixth over with Praharsh claiming a wicket in each of his first three overs! It was again recovery time for the US and in this one they found the responsible shoulders of Vivek who starred in two very productive partnerships: 37 runs with Maulin for the 4th wicket and then 55 runs with NJ teammate Gauranshu for the sixth. Maulin was unfortunately run out just when it seemed that Vivek and Maulin might really effect an impactful recovery. Vivek reached a well-deserved fifty (51 off 85) in the process: the first and only for the US boys on this tour.  Parth also played a cameo and then missed - playing across the line right after hitting two boundaries and giving the impression of hitting his stride. Gauranshu and Jwal stayed till the end and the US managed to last their entire 40 overs for the first and only time on the tour. They finished with 153/6 which just seemed about 20-30 runs short on this wicket and ground.

 

The Ahmedabad boys began their chase in style and raced to 73/0 by the 15th over before Rahul was trapped LBW by Akhil for a responsibly compiled 31 off 41. Suraj was next to go smartly snapped up by Mohak off Akhil but Praharsh continued to score freely. He was eventually bowled through the gate off Akhil for 60 off 73 but it was too little too late as the US team did not have many runs to defend. Vivek and Parth also chipped in with wickets but the Ahmedabad team easily overhauled the US team’s score with more than five overs to spare for the loss of just five wickets.

 

·      Game 4 against Baroda State – USA won the game

 

 

·      Game 5 Against Ahmedabad Cricket Academy – USA won the game

 

 

·      Game 6 against Anand District – USA won the game

 

The US boys returned to competitive cricket after a three-day break after having won two low-scoring games on the trot. They had the Anand U-14 team to contend with who are the interdistrict champions. The US team again won the toss and elected to bat with their fifth opening pair of Parth and Vivek in six matches in keeping with their rotation policy.

 

Parth appeared determined to get his eye in and was playing in the V eschewing all risks. Vivek unfurled a couple of wonderful cover drives: one of the backfoot and another off the front foot to give the innings some momentum. However, the first bowling change resulted in two wickets (Vivek and Maulin) in the 6th over interspersed with several wides off Arbaaz Pathan. Parth followed soon after in the 7th and the US was again struggling at 30/3 in the 7th over. Mohak and Akhil effected a mini recovery but then Mohak moved too far inside the line of the ball and exposed his leg stump to get bowled in the 13th over to leave the US further in trouble at 53/4. Akhil was then joined by Gauranshu and what followed was certainly one of the best partnerships of the tour. They were of course generously helped by several extras that Anand gave and they were able to add 70 valuable runs in just 78 balls before Akhil again holed out in the deep to be dismissed in his thirties for the third time (and holing out as well) in the series (123/5)! Nandan and Gauranshu continued the good work but then Nandan completely against the run of play attempted a cross-batted swipe, missed and was plumb LBW (147/6). Two run outs (Gauranshu and Jwal) again reduced the US to 161/9 before Samet and Shopnavo added 17 valuable runs for the last wicket to take the US to a respectable 178. The US again committed the cardinal sin of not lasting their entire 40 overs batting first. But for the generous 62 extras provided by Anand it might have been a much lower total.

 

Anand began steadily and were going along at four runs an over before Mohak made Shivraj spoon a catch to Gaurav (48/1) in the 12th over. That brought in Aditya Patel who upped the ante significantly and was easily going at more than a run a ball. Anand had crossed the 100 mark in the 22nd over itself and it appeared as if the US had no answers to Aditya’s shot making. But then the introduction of Parth in the 23rd over changed things dramatically. Aditya continued to be severe on Parth as well but then didn’t account for Parth’s extra reach as he easily plucked one of Aditya’s lofted straight drives of his own bowling. Aditya fell one short of his fifty (49 off 39 with 8 fours).  Akhil took another blinder at short extra cover to send back Nirmal off Parth opening the door ever so slightly for the US boys (121/3).  Vivek and Parth then tightened the noose and knocked over a batsman each and it was delicately balanced with Anand on 163/5 in the 39th over still requiring 15 for victory with their sheet anchor opener Kirtan still there. Once Shyam was pouched by Nandan, Parth then got two more wickets to end up with a five for 19 in just four overs. Gaurav claimed opener Kirtan for 65 off 130 in the last over and then it was too much for the last pair to get the remaining twelve runs and the US prevailed in a nail biter by 11 runs! This was easily the tightest game of the series with fortunes see-sawing, some great batting and most importantly some great catches to swing fortunes from one side to another.   

 

This win gave the US side their third victory on the trot and certainly gave them a lot of confidence.

 

·      Game 7 against  Gujarat Cricket academy – Gujarat Cricket academy won

 

Game 7 took the US U-14 boys to the famed Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera where they (at least some of them who had stayed back in Ahmedabad during their break) had just watched India/Pakistan battle it out in a T20. While the stadium was jam packed for that game the seats were eerily empty for their game. However, it was still a great occasion and all the boys cherished this opportunity of playing on this hallowed ground including getting use of the changing rooms used by famed players.

 

The game however turned out to be a no contest with the US boys getting no sort of momentum going batting first. Only Nandan reached double figures and the Ahmedabad boys sent down fourteen maidens off the 39 they bowled. Yash Doshi was particularly impressive and had figures of 8-6-2-2! With his accuracy he could have hit a quarter on that wicket all day. His flight, dip and then turn were also equally impressive.  The US could only muster a below par 79.

 

With only such a low score to defend the body language of the US boys while fielding also did not evoke much confidence. They were just going through the motions and Parth and Akhil who had claimed spectacular catches just the day before to effect turnarounds put down those same kind of catches letting Ahmedabad get to their target on a canter with the loss of a solitary wicket in a mere 25 overs.  Given the vagaries of cricket, this reporter is sure that we might have had a completely different contest between these two teams on another day.

 

 

·      Game 8 against Kheda Districts Cricket Association – USA won the game.

 

Team USA arrived for Game 8 with two players short. Vivek was scheduled to leave for home early and Mohak was indisposed. That meant two of their key, mainstay spinners were missing. But Ahmedabad and Kheda were magnanimous enough to lend them a player each (Ayush Sharma & Pritesh Jagad) in keeping with the excellent spirit that this entire series was played in.

 

Kheda Districts won the toss and put the US boys in. Team USA opened with Maulin and Shopnavo this time. Maulin - from the first ball he faced - showed intent to reprise his opening role from Game 2. He was more than ably supported by Shopnavo on the other side. They stitched together a most impressive 55 run opening partnership in 13 overs before Shopnavo got run out; but not before stepping out and hitting a classic, lofted straight drive right over the bowler’s head for a most impressive boundary.  Samet came in at #3 and was also run out in the search for quick singles. Maulin was the sheet anchor as wickets fell on the other end before Maulin departed in the 30th over just two short of his fifty (48 off 85).  Gauranshu was then stumped in the 34th over (136/5) which then brought Akhil to the crease. Akhil hardly let a scoring opportunity go by and played a most impressive cameo scoring 22 off 18 with three fours: one particularly impressive lofted shot that just fell short of the ropes. The loss of Akhil to a brilliant catch at midwicket again slowed the innings a bit but the US still managed to equal their highest score (180) for the loss of nine wickets and lasted their 40 overs.

 

The Kheda openers began the chase in a classical fashion – defending the good balls but putting the bad balls (especially the left handed Abhishek Desai) away for boundaries. The introduction of spin in the 8th over immediately brought in some drama with Akhil’s first ball inducing an edge from Abhishek that Nandan couldn’t hold on to.  However, Akhil managed to breach the defenses of Kathan in the next over making it 41/1 in the 10th over. Nandan then made amends effecting a very smart stumping of a wider delivery from Akhil that Abhishek had difficulty reaching (50/2 in 14th over).  Pritesh and Parth then bowled unchanged from the 17th over and took 8 wickets amongst themselves with Parth again getting a five-for. Akhil took three catches at short extra cover off Parth to dismiss Brian, Kalpit and Rajesh. The innings ended in the 33rd over with Parth taking the last two of consecutive deliveries with Kheda short of their target by 48 runs. It was a really strong all around display by the US team to finish the tour on a winning note.

 

While the US boys did finish with a final 5/3 score it was instructive to see some of the differences vis-à-vis their Indian counterparts. While playing on turf wickets is certainly one aspect, not having decent outfields which provide appropriate value for ground strokes is in the humble opinion of this reporter a greater contributor to their problems.  In such an environment players do not see the value of appropriate timing and shift of body weight to generate power and therefore tend to rely more on brute force.

 

Another side effect of such outfields is that the US boys tend to loft more. Furthermore, not realizing that on turf wickets with faster outfields fielders tend to be a bit deeper, they also have difficulty clearing fielders with their lofted shots as opposed to on US grounds.

 

Another effect of not having decent outfields is that US players do not develop the flick and leg glance strokes which are so effective with deliveries on the pads to rotate strike.  They tend to play such deliveries to midwicket rather than behind square.

 

Also, as the US boys only play limited overs cricket - where there is no margin for error with regards to wides outside the line of the leg stump – they don’t develop the ability of putting balls away outside the leg stump.