By Sudharsan Ramarao
The Capital District Cricket Association (CDCA) is the flag bearer of cricket in the capital region of NY. It conducts cricket leagues, tournaments and cricket workshops throughout the year attracting more than 300 players from different origins, backgrounds and age groups. To make deeper inroads within the Capital District communities and to spread the game to the family audience, CDCA introduced the concept of Mayor’s cup in 2017.
It is the single biggest cricketing event in the Capital District of NY. It is platform where the best of the cricketing talents competes against each other to product high octane cricketing action. It is a platform where the audience watch high quality cricket along with live commentary and Live music. It is a platform that connects the Mayors of Albany with all the cricketing enthusiasts of the region and is covered by popular media. In short, the Mayor’s cup is the amalgamation of all the stakeholders of the great game of cricket in the capital region.
Year after year, the Mayor’s cup has done many good for the game of cricket in terms of creating awareness and pulling in big crowds. This year was no different as the CDCA conducted the 3rd edition of the Mayors cup over the weekend of July 20 and 21 to a resounding success.
Earlier played as an All-star game with the best players from the region divided into 2 All-star teams, this year the CDCA introduced the concept of a T10 championship to provide a chance to every league team of CDCA to play in front of local crowds. And What a masterstroke that turned out to be as every team had the time of their lives playing high intensity cricket for 2 days in front of friends and family. A total of 8 teams competed in the tournament with one team, The Mavericks Cricket Club, travelling to Albany all the way from Boston. The format had each of the eight teams playing two league games that was decided by a lucky draw and the top four teams based on points and Net Run Rate proceeding to the Semifinals.
Akshay Homraj, a popular cricketer of the Capital district and a contracted player with USA cricket, started the Mayors cup with a bang through his scintillating innings of 42 off just 20 balls. Playing for Albany Highlanders, Akshay showed everyone present in the audience what a talent he was by striking the ball as clean as a whistle. The shot of the tournament probably came off his bat when he effortlessly lofted a ball over the extra cover region for a huge six.
Highlanders romped home easily against the Panthers. Gujarat Lions riding on their bowling might won their first game easily against DB-ES but had to dig in very hard to eke out a last ball victory against the Highlanders. JET Albany and Knights of Albany, the top 2 teams in the 30 over league of CDCA continued their brilliant form into the Mayors cup by winning both their league games convincingly. At the end of a hot and humid Saturday amidst soaring temperatures, it was the Jet Albany, Knights of Albany, Gujarat Lions and Albany Highlanders that made the cut for the semis.
In the first semifinals, the table toppers JET Albany locked horn with Albany Highlanders. Winning the toss and batting first, the Jet Albany put on a show scoring a whopping 107 in their 10 overs. Their openers Chakradhar Reddy and Rahul Bandaru shared a 69-run opening partnership. Chakradhar, popularly called Chakri, smoked the ball to all parts of the ground in his 20 balls 42 that included 3 huge sixes and 3 boundaries. Ravi Ekambaram coming in at 3 continued the fine hitting by scoring 21 off just 11 balls that included 2 sixes. Rahul Bandaru, the other opener, remained not out for a well-made 32. Chasing 108 in 10 overs, the Highlanders lost their batting mainstay Shahzad Butt in the 3rd over of the chase. With the run rate, climbing and wickets tumbling regularly, Highlanders lost steam soon and were thrashed by 54 runs.
In the second semifinals between the Knights and Gujarat Lions, the Knights of Albany showed off their batting might in supreme style by posting a mammoth 117 off their 10 overs. Their skipper Raj Ardham was back at his ball striking best, hitting the ball with intent and power. In all, He hit 4 huge sixes and 5 boundaries and brought up his half century, the only one in the entire tournament, in just 23 balls. Ruthvik Vemareddy the other opener, anchored the innings with a well-made 33 off just 26 balls. Chasing 118 to win, Gujarat Lions made a sprightly effort but fell short by 29 runs. Saurabh Verma scored 30 off 19 balls.
The Finals was a fitting contest between the top two teams and it turned out to be the humdinger all the spectators turned out to watch. Winning the toss and batting first, Jet Albany started off their innings cautiously courtesy of tight bowling from the Knights. The JETs lost their first 2 wickets in the first 4 overs and put only 31 on the board. That’s when the talisman of JET Albany, Anand Kalukuri walked in. Possessing the gift of timing and power, Anand start-off his innings by lofting the off spinner Arun Ghanta over the extra cover for a boundary and then followed it up with a huge six over the long on.
While the batsmen at the other end found it difficult to keep going, Anand was batting in a different zone hitting the ball clean from ball 1. Knights picked quick wickets at the other end and made sure that Anand was off the strike. With the Jets posting 77 off their nine overs, the Knight Skipper Raj Ardham threw the ball to their spinner Arun Ghanta who earlier leaked 14 off his first over.
However, that proved to be a masterstroke, as Arun just gave away three runs while also picking two wickets in the over and helped swing the Momentum in favor of the Knights. Chasing 81 to win the Mayors Cup, the Knights started disastrously losing both their openers in the first 2 overs. In came their chase master, Saravanan Manickvasagam, who then took control of their innings. Saravanan, in fine form this season, started off watchfully by playing with soft hands and taking singles on offer. With 45 needed in the last 5 overs, Saro then started to take his chances against Rahul Bandaru. He first hit him for a huge six over the long region and then put further pressure on the bowler and reaped two more boundaries in the same over.
That over fetched 16 runs and importantly shifted the balance of the game towards the Knights. Vamsidhar Varmakonda, while playing the second fiddle to Saro, then took his own chance by hitting Sridhar Sagi for a huge six but perished while trying it again. Saro, who all the while used up every bit of energy in his body started cramping and was literally hopping on one leg between wickets. He further hit 2 more boundaries with just one leg and got the equation down to 9 runs off 2 balls. Ijaz Safi, their power hitter, then finished off the game in Dhoni’ style by hitting Anand Kalukuri for a huge six. Knights became the Champions of the Mayors cup.
Chakradhar Reddy of JET Albany took home the best batsman and the Most Valuable Player award. Vishva Velichala took home the best bowler award while Saro the Chase master was adjudged the Man of the Finals.