Three miles from Gillete stadium, home of the New England Patriots, two college teams were fighting it out to become the Champions of New England last month. It was cold and windy and it seemed like nature was determined to make the goings tough. In fact the next day it snowed.
University of Massachusetts (UMass) took on Boston University (BU) in a game of cricket, a scene that USA’s founding father and Boston native, cricketer and 2nd US President John Adams would have felt at home with.
Captain Jaideep Reddy of UMass had recently formed a cricket club in his university with a dream of winning the Chanderpaul Trophy. He was looking forward to see how the new team would fare against an experienced team that had already participated in the first American College Cricket Spring Break Championship. The Boston U team had played together for years.
The venue was the Cracker Barrel Fairgrounds in Wrentham which is used by the Boston Gymkhana Sports Club of the Massachusetts State Cricket League during the regular season. With Its well laid out astro-turf pitch and a beautiful outfield, a more perfect stage could not have been asked for.
UMass Cricket Club
Muddasar- 52 off 49 balls.
Mainkar - 34 off 63 balls
Shayan- 22 off 20 balls
Kiran- 14 off 25 balls
Suleman- 6 overs 2 wickets 24 runs
Amarapu – 4 overs 2 wickets 19 runs
Salman Sheik- 26 off 49 balls
Imran- 18 off 12 balls
Vivek Ashar- 15 off 34 balls
Jaideep 15 off 10 balls
Naufal- 6 overs 3 wickets 28 runs
Kiran- 5 overs 3 wickets 23 runs
Misra - 1 over 1 wicket 3 runs
UMass’ Reddy won the toss and decided to field first, hoping the conditions would assist the bowlers on a fast and bouncy track. Conditions assisted the seamers alright, but a bit more than the bowlers liking with extra movement off the pitch and in the air resulting in a lot of wides by UMass’ opening bowlers Mannu and Imran.
BU’s Opening batsmen Harsh Mainkar and Mandela Kiran were very patient out in the middle. It was a bad day to be a fielder, as it was almost 45 F and taking a catch was a courageous thing to do. The wind was biting through the players’ sweaters - and one player felt no shame in donning a borrowed University of Michigan sweater!
The introduction of the left arm bowler Suleman resulted in the fall of the first wicket with Suleman uprooting the off stump of Kiran who scored 14 in the opening stand of 57 runs. Suleman bowled with some pace and kept the batsmen quiet. Muddasar came at #3 and reminded UMass of Inzamam Ul-Haq with similar batting style and temperament. Reddy brought himself on and bowled with pace and accuracy to restrict the run flow whilst producing outside edges which found a way between the wicket-keeper and slip fielders.
Vasu Amarapu got UMass their second wicket when he cleaned up Mainkar who played a patient knock of 34 runs (3 fours). Naufal was the new man in but didn’t last too long as he stepped down the track to spin bowler Vasudev Gadge and was stumped. Next came Shayan, he provided a nice flourish of boundaries towards the end of the innings and was especially punishing to deliveries pitched up to him. However he was retired hurt when he was struck by a sharp bouncer from Reddy on the head in the last over of the innings.
Muddasir’s half-century (52 off 49 balls, 2 fours and 1 six) was a very good knock, steady whilst keeping the scoring going. It allowed BU to finish with a score of 184 for 5 off 30 overs.
UMass’ task was cut out, they had to score a run a ball to chase down such a huge total. The opening batsmen for UMass were Salman and Vivek who started off cautiously. They formed a good partnership and saw off BU’s opening bowlers Muddasir and BU’s skipper Shilpin Makhwana who had excelled in Florida at the 2009 ACC Spring Break Championship. BU was playing without 2 of their other pace bowlers Ankush Chandra and Sumantro Das, both absent because of classes. It would have been particularly interesting to see the 6’3 Das who had spent the summer at Madan Lal’s training camp in India. Word was he had been generating speeds in the eighties.
The first change bowler for BU was Naufal who got the break through when he bowled Vivek(15 runs)with an in-swinger. UMass skipper Reddy walked out to the middle knowing he had to play a big knock to ensure his team victory. But Kiran got rid of Reddy (15) before he could get dangerous. Naufal flirted with a hat-trick when he bowled Salman and Suleman off consecutive deliveries. Salman scored 27 runs and was the highest scorer for UMass. Imran hit a quick-fire 18 off 12 balls towards the end but all was lost by then.
UMass ended the innings with 154 runs for the loss of 9 wickets falling 30 runs short of BU’s 184, making BU the College Champions of New England.
BU Captain Shilpin Makwana said, “We’re very happy with BU’s performance today. We were able to play some new guys, some freshmen, so we’ll have a strong pool to choose our Team from for the 2010 Championship”.
It was a very good effort for the new team, University of Massachusetts, beginning their road to playing for the Chanderpaul Trophy and hopefully being National Champions in March 2010.