EACA 40-Overs Tournament
By D. Sewanan
On an overcast Sunday morning, New York Centurions assembled their troops from the various zip codes and set out for Van Cortland Park in the Bronx, loaded up with matting, nails, umpire and all. A much heavier cargo was being carried, however, and it was the psychological weight of losing all their games thus far in the EACA 40 over competition 2014. Nevertheless, NY Centurions are always a positive bunch of guys and they were more determined than ever to break the jinx and secure a victory.

NY Centurions won the toss, and even with storms threatening, decided to bat first in the 40 over match. Openers Trevor Singh and Raj Sewanan put on 67 before Sewanan was run out. Troy Hayley joined Trevor and after hoisting a 6 over square leg, was out caught to a delivery that had him in two minds. Vijay Persaud and the reliable Trevor, who was looking in fine touch, put on a valuable partnership in the middle overs. The Phantoms bowlers, led by Aziz, stuck to a disciplined line and length, and when the batsmen when presented with loose balls, the outfield did not give justice to the attractive stroke play and scoring was tedious at times. Eventually Vijay was bowled by Aziz looking to increase the run rate, for a workmanlike 35 including 3 boundaries. This triggered a mini collapse with 3 batsmen, including young talent Nicholas Harripersaud, only adding 4 runs to the scorecard.

Carlton Baker, the Suriname National all-rounder, who together with Troy Hayley, make up NY Centurions “Dutch Connection” for 2014, joined Trevor who was still there battling heroically in the humidity and heat. After surviving a few testing deliveries and a loud lbw shout, Baker finally broke loose with a massive six over midwicket. This started a late surge as both Trevor and Baker put their fitness to the test with excellent running between the wickets, with plenty of 2’s, 3’s, and even running a 4. Trevor eventually departed in the 37th over for a very well-made 69, probably robbed of three figures by the unrelenting outfield, but providing the backbone of the NY Centurions innings. Carlos Bachu joined Baker and they maintained the momentum with quick running, with Baker blasting another 6 to help the score past the 200 mark and to eventually finish on 210 for 7.

At halftime, the NY Centurions bowlers were very confident that they could defend this score on a slow track and heavy outfield and convinced management to splurge on some local Chinese cuisine.

Vijay Persaud struck 35 and picked up four wickets.

Needing 211 runs to win the game, Phantoms openers walked to the middle looking to build a foundation for their team. However, Carlos “Rusy” Bachu, the left arm seamer with prodigious swing, had other plans. He adjusted his radar after a couple that swung down leg and trapped Nischal lbw on the crease in the very first over. In the second over, wicketkeeper Troy Hayley showed great athleticism to throw off a glove, field a push to leg, and run out the lanky Shaq running towards the non-striker end with an accurate throw to break the stumps. Umer then joined Ahmad and took the attack to the Centurions bowlers.

This partnership blossomed past the 15 overs water break and when 16 year old mystery spinner Nicholas Nandan was introduced, Umer had no problems finding the boundaries, eventually forcing him out of the attack. At this point Nicholas was overheard complaining that his lunchtime fortune cookie that promised him “great things in store” was a sham. Worried about the partnership, NY Centurions senior players consulted and adjusted the field placements. Raj Sewanan took the ball and pegged back the run rate with some slow leg cutters and out swingers. Vijay Persaud at the other end kept a tight line and eventually forced Ahmad to play uppishly to cover. Umer, in the meantime, reached a fine half century but was tiring and eventually went caught as well to Vijay, who promptly dismissed the new batsman first ball.

The hat trick was not meant to be today, but Vijay picked up 4 wickets in a tremendous effort, bowling 8 overs on the trot. Carlos Bachu returned to pick up 1 more wicket and Phantoms never regained any momentum. After the 7th wicket fell, the ball was tossed back to young Nandan, who only needed 5 balls to clean up the last 3 wickets, bamboozling the batsmen with flight and turn. Phantoms innings ended on 121 and NY Centurions recorded their first win of the season by 89 runs, indeed casting off their heavy burden in the Bronx. The players all exchanged handshakes and NY Centurions headed back to Queens in a celebratory mood.