EACA Semi-Finals Report
By Sam Sooppersaud
A brilliant century by Atlantis’ skipper Alex Amsterdam sank Richmond Hill Cricket Club, and at the same time propelled his club to the Finals (against Big Apple Cricket Club), in the Eastern American Cricket Association’s 40-Over Competition.

Atlantis skipper Alex Amsterdam played a determined knock against Richmond Hill when he scored an unbeaten 113 and ensured his team a spot in the final. Photo by Shiek Mohamed

Sunday, August 7th, was a day for Semi-Finals in the EACA.  Big Apple annihilated Liberty Sports Club at Baisley Pond Park, while Atlantis Cricket Club had a wham of a game with Richmond Hill Sports Club at The Cage – Baisley Park. Both games were played in Queens, NY. Whereas Big Apple sent their opponents home for the season with ease, Atlantis defeated their opponents, but not without many an anxious moment.

According to the pundits prior to the game all four clubs had an equal chance of making it to the finals. Last weekend Liberty Sports Club defeated Big Apple in a preliminary game which propelled them into the semifinals. On this day at Baisley Pond Park, Liberty entered the game confident that they could defeat Big Apple and go in to the finals. The boys in the Big Apple club were equally confident that they could send Liberty packing. They felt that their loss to Liberty was “just one of those things that happens in cricket, not to be repeated.”

Big Apple took first strike and scored 228 runs in their innings. A second wicket partnership of 62 between D. Hector (30) and Skipper Z. Saffie (33), and a fifth-wicket partnership between A. Sanford (64) and T. Dudnauth (44) accounted for their club attaining their total. From 209 for 5, Big Apple was all out for 228. The last 5 wickets contributed only 19 runs. Bowling for Liberty SC:  L. Mahabir 2 for 46, F. Mendonca 2 for 20. T. Madramoottoo, T. Carmichael, S. Shakoor, and J. Singh got one wicket each.

Set to make 229 for victory, Liberty started their inning in a positive frame of mind, but the openers found out that runs “were hard to come by.” Their score was helped along by some erratic bowling from the Big Apple bowlers, sending down wide after wide.  But once the bowlers found their niche, Liberty began feeling the squeeze.  Only Dilly Khelawan (29) was able to make any significant score. From 73 for 3, Liberty was all out for 132 in the 34th over.  Wicket takers for Big Apple: A. Sanford 4 for 20, Z. Saffie 3 for 18. T. Dudnauth and R. Balram, one wicket each.

Big Apple defeated Liberty by 96 runs and earned their place in the Finals.

Former West Indies pacer Adam Sanford struck a half century and took a five wicket haul in Big Apple win over Liberty SC. Photo by Shem Rodney

Over at The Cage, a completely different game was unfolding. It was a hard fought game. Richmond Hill occupied the wicket, first up. Their top batsmen gave them an excellent start to their inning. Opening batsmen Debo Sankar (34) and Z. Sadloo (60) pounced on the Atlantis bowlers. The first wicket, that of Sankar fell with the score on 88. This was followed by a second wicket stand of 67 between Sadloo and S. Dhaniram (52). Sadloo hit 4 boundaries while Dhaniram smashed 4 boundaries and 4 monstrous 6’s.  Once Dhaniram and Sadloo lost their wickets the scoring and the scoring rate dropped drastically. From 184 for 3 in the 30th over, Richmond Hill scored an additional 68 runs. S. Ali contributed 25, and P. Roopchan, 22. This was helped by Atlantis’ 42 extras.

Atlantis’ Skipper Alex Amsterdam returned bowling figures of 3 for 41 and K. Gopaul 2 for 25. G. Robinson, M. Noble, and P. Nair, one wicket each for 31, 29, and 13 runs, respectively.

Setting 253 for Atlantis to get for victory, the Richmond Hill players and the large crowd of partisan fans felt that their club had more than a good chance of winning the game. The crowd was noisy when Atlantis in reply, lost their first wicket with the score on 4 and in just the second over of the inning. The Man of the Match, Alex Amsterdam walked out to the wicket and surveyed the field. Except for one blemish, when he was dropped while on 20, he played a gem of an innings. The pair of D. Rikhi and Amsterdam kept the scorers busy. The second-wicket partnership of Rikki was disrupted with the score on 60.

With the fall of Rikki, Michael Noble joined his captain and played second fiddle to his skipper, rotating the strike and giving the skipper the opportunity to send the cricket ball racing to the boundary rope. Twice Amsterdam sent the ball sailing over the fence for maximums. Together the third-wicket pair put on 119 valuable runs and pointed their club toward victory. The Richmond Hill skipper kept switching his bowlers from one end to the other, but with little success.

With the score climbing and Richmond Hill not able to make a break through, the body language of the fielders confirmed it was all but over. It was apparent that they were demoralized. Frustrated at not being able to stop the flow of doubles. Many fans felt that the reason for this was because the Richmond Hill players were “not youngsters.”  They were not as fleet footed as the youngsters in the Atlantis side, when they fielded.

Alex Amsterdam reached his ton with a delicate drive for 4 through the covers. Noble (36) offered a sitter to short cover, and R. Sukdeo (8) was adjudged LBW.  With 7 overs left Atlantis needed 51 runs for victory. At this stage the Richmond Hill players found a “second wind”. Feeling more invigorated at the scent of a possible victory, they pressed on, verbally encouraging each other.

Kavishwar Bridgepaul struck 34 from 19 deliveries.

But Kavishwar Bridgepaul put an end to the Richmond Hill club’s euphoria. 31 runs needed in 24 balls. 10 runs scored in the 17th over. Kumar Nandalall was brought on from the northern end.  21 runs, 18 balls, Bridgepaul facing up to Nandalall.  1st ball a blast over long-off for 6. The second ball went flying over the long-on boundary. The third ball, a scorching shot to deep midwicket. The fielder settling under. The catch not taken, instead, parried over the ropes for yet another 6. The fourth ball a pull to square leg for 3 runs, and victory.

Bridgepaul played a scorcher of an inning, 34 runs in 19 balls. Atlantis won the game by 6 wickets.
Skipper Amsterdam played a-what-else but a captain’s inning – 113 runs not out and booked his club’s ticket to the 2014 EACA 40-oversFinals. Wicket takers for Richmond Hill: S. Sadloo 2 for 46, W. Ward 1 for 20, and R. Bactowar 1 for 43.

The Finals, between Atlantis and Big Apple will be played on Sunday, September 14th, at the Baisley Pond Cricket Field, Baisley and Rockaway Boulevards, Queens.

Cricket fans, come out and enjoy a keen cricket contest between the two best clubs in the Eastern American Cricket Association. You would not be disappointed.

We at www.newyorkcricket.com will bring you a live scorecard of the final on Sunday.