By Supriya Desai
Morrisville Cardinals wins another battle at the fabulous Church Street Cricket grounds in a low-scoring thriller.
Morrisville Cardinals’ (MVC) captain Jaskaran Malhotra won the toss and opted to field against the Atlanta Param Veers in a USA Minor League fixture at the Church Street Cricket Ground last weekend. The match began dramatically with Atlanta’s captain Darpan Patel hitting Malhotra’s first delivery faced to the boundary. He was out in the third ball, giving a catch to mid-off Sandeep Pilania. Malhotra won the initial battle of the captains. But Atlanta had the depth in batting, including the explosive Stephen Taylor, to get them out of the woods.
In a strategic move, Malhotra brought on young Aditya Padala in his place. Padala, a gifted left-arm seamer, obliged his captain by getting Param Patel out for a simple catch to Roy Silva at mid-off. It was amazing to see the young bowlers bowl to a set field and conceding very few runs. At the end of three overs, Atlanta was 6 for 2.
Malhotra brought himself on from the far end, and new batsman Mark Parchment could not even settle in. A brilliant low lying catch at backward point by Mayur Choudhary helped MVC get their third wicket. Wickets tumbled in succession with Atlanta vice-captain Garth Garvey also falling to Malhotra, and the score was 6 for 4 in 4 overs. Garvey had brought a right-left combination to the middle. Some excellent bowling from Cardinals kept the hard-hitting batsmen Stephen Taylor and Ishmael Parchment tied down for some time until in the 11th over when Taylor hit a six off Padala. Still, the Param Veers could only manage a total of 31 for 4 at the end of 11.
Sandeep Pilania was brought in for just one over, which yielded four runs. A brilliant relay from the backward point by Andre Dwyer to the keeper Aryan Shah brought an end to Ishmael Parchment’s inning with the batsman having scored only 10 runs off 34 deliveries faced, and brought the Param Veers total to 5 for 36.
The Cardinal’s skipper continued his dominance when he sprinted several yards to catch a lofted hit from Taylor towards long-off, giving young Padala his second wicket. Padala ended with impressive figures of 2 for 12 in 4 overs.
At the end of 14 overs, Param Veers was 6 for 36. Rohan was brought back to the attack from the commentator’s box end, and he was very economical as always. Fahad Khan also did reasonably well riding with confidence from the previous day’s success.
Param Veers’ Heer Patel got out to a spectacular catch by Andre Dwyer off Farhad. Dwyer sprinted a few yards to the front and, balancing on one leg, held on to the ball, diving forwards in the process. The absolute stunning catch from Andre Dwyer and Jaskaran’s catch to dismiss Taylor were the two most challenging catches seen in the previous two games.
Captain Malhotra very effectively shuffled his bowlers and fielders and brought Abhiram back into the attack from the commentator’s end, yielding two wickets in the 17th over. The first delivery was a beauty that carried low to the keeper from Sanjeev Saini’s bat and was very well taken by the agile keeper Aryan Shah diving to his right. The new man in, Morgan, faced just one ball before he was clean bowled. It looked like curtains for the Param Veers at 60 for 9 from 18 overs, but some lusty hitting from E. Dyer provided unexpected runs in the death overs. A dropped chance at 66 did not help the Cardinals. Dyer took full advantage of that chance to score 20 runs off the last over by Silva hitting 3 massive sixes.
The Cardinals opened their inning with captain Malhotra and Choudhary, chasing what looked like a modest total despite the last over bash from Param Veers. The Atlanta bowlers kept the Cardinals in check; however, the two played responsibly, especially Malhotra, who carefully chose his shots and kept rotating the strike to keep the runs trickling in. Just when things were looking good, the Cardinals lost their first wicket. Choudhary clean bowled. Man-of-the-Match from the first match, Abhiram Bolisetty joined his captain in the run chase. A massive six from Jaskaran over long-off into the deep woods jacked up the score and spirits. Even Malhotra’s dismissal did not jolt the Cardinals with the batting line’s depth, having made good progress till them.
The Cardinals’ misfortunes started in the 11th over with Bolisetty getting run out by a “Mankading” dismissal. Sandeep Pilania, in partnership with Kunal Sehgal, trickled in some runs, but Sehgal’s dismissal brought about a change of partners with Aryan Shah to the crease. Pilania’s massive hits to and over the fence became the game-changing moment for the Cardinals. Pilania fell soon, and Aryan Shah was joined in the middle by Andre Dwyer, a well-known coach in the RTP area. Needing four runs in 14 balls, Shah hit a beautiful cover drive cut short by an incredible one-handed catch taken by the fielder at short cover. Finally, Padala and Dwyer completed the formalities with Dwyer hitting one over mid-wicket to the boundary, that was the winning shot. After an excellent run-out and an incredible catch taken earlier in the Atlanta inning, Coach Andre deserved the honor.
To nobody’s surprise, Cardinals’ captain Malhotra was adjudged Man-of-the-Match, a result of his stellar all-around display of 3 for 5 off 4 overs and 32 off 34 balls with the bat, in addition to a superb catch and excellent captaincy.
The Cardinals retained the glory with two wins and top placement in the Zonal chart.