American Cricket Champions League
By Bandon Decker
The Greater Philadelphia Cricket League made it three wins out of three on Saturday as they chased down 277 to beat the Cricket League of New Jersey by three wickets with seven balls to spare. All three of Philadelphia’s wins have come batting last and although this was, by a distance, their toughest ask so far, the ease with which they won their first two matches would have given them confidence after being set nearly seven an over to win.
The chase was anchored at the top of the order by skipper Waqas Shahid and Mayuranath Rao who put on 97 for the first wicket in very quick time. With his first-choice bowlers unable to stem the flow of runs, CLNJ captain Kapil Khana turned to the rest of his attack to try to claw the match back and they did not disappoint. Rimal Patel was the sixth bowler to be used, but he made the vital breakthrough when Rao edged one behind. One ball later he found himself on a hat trick after Shaik Ahamed was trapped lbw. He didn’t get it, but then Syed Hasan got amongst the wickets, bowling Mayank Patel off the second ball the batsman had faced and then having Rafiq Melanth stumped for only three. Patel’s eight overs ultimately cost only 39 runs, comfortably his side’s best economy rate.
With the GPCL innings suddenly wobbling on 106-4, Maaez Vequar came out to join his captain. The pair put on a quick 58 to tilt the balance back toward Philadelphia and even after Shahid departed for an eighty-ball 92, Vequar was joined by wicket keeper Venkata Aluri who scored 33 off 32 deliveries. Vequar would see his side home though, scoring an unbeaten 74 off only fifty deliveries with a pair of sixes.
Earlier, CLNJ must have fancied their chances after winning the toss and electing to bat. Although there was only one standout innings in their score of 276-9, the 66 off 76 made by wicket keeper Chintan Modi, all of their top order contributed with quick scores between 15 and 30. By itself this would have been a decent, if not formidable score. But Hasan came in at number eleven and blasted an unbeaten 39 off 15 deliveries including four fours and three sixes to boost the visitors’ total.
The main victim of this assault was Machel Pelle who managed two wickets in his seven overs, but at the cost of 73 runs. The rest of the wickets were spread out amongst the Philadelphia bowlers; Veqar and Ali Bukhari took a wicket apiece while doing an excellent job of keeping the scoring rate down, whilst Rao and Gurdish Singh were more expensive but each finsihed with two wickets to their name.
Philadelphia will look to continue their winning ways this Saturday as they travel to the Mid-Atlantic Cricket Conference, over whom they recorded a comprehensive ten wicket victory in June. On the same day, New Jersey will try to record their first victory of the season as they travel to Washington. The first meeting between those sides resulted in a 31 run win for the men from the nation’s capital.