American Cricket Champions League
By Matt Becker
Two teams on two very different trajectories took the field on a hot, windy day in Richmond, Virginia this past Saturday: and the trends seen earlier in the season were not reversed. The struggling Mid-Atlantic Cricket Conference (MACC) lost by eight wickets to the red hot Greater Philadelphia Cricket League (GPCL) at the MACC’s home ground. MACC fell to three losses in three outings, while GPCL has won four in four to put them firmly atop the ACF Champions League Mid-Atlantic table. This is MACC’s second loss to the club from the City of Brotherly Love, as GPCL thrashed them by 10 wickets back on June 14.

On Saturday, MACC won the toss, elected to have a bat, and promptly collapsed to 6-5, as the GPCL’s attack bore into their lineup – landing thundering blow after thundering blow. All four of MACC’s opening batsmen fell for ducks – two of them golden (Varun Gajjar and Rajesh Tenuknutla) – while their fifth batsman fell for only four. Marcello Brooks took three wickets in a tidy three overs, while Faraz Zaidi also took three in four. MACC’s batsmen never had time to breath, no matter who was bowling for GPCL, as three other bowlers took two wickets while Ali Bukhari bowled eight overs for a stingy 28 which included two maidens.

A brave sixth wicket stand by Nitin Patel and Ramkumar Karunanidhi, however, saved some of MACC’s blushes and brought them to 86-5 when Patel finally fell after completing a lightning quick half century on just 60 balls. Karunanidhi and Rahul Chaturvedi held on as long as they could but wicket after wicket fell, leaving them all out for just 120 runs – completing just 29.1 of their allotted 40 overs.

Considering GPCL had chased down 276 runs against the Cricket League of New Jersey just the previous Saturday, that 120 wasn’t going to be too much of a challenge for the league leaders. However, one spot of hope for MACC was that GPCL’s opener, Waqas Shahid – who led the division in runs scored after his first three matches – was unavailable.

Despite this handicap, GPCL came out firing, as openers Mayurnath Raoand Mayank Patel stormed out to a demoralizing partnership of 76 before Patel was bowled by Rahul Chaturvedi. Abdul Nissar fell shortly thereafter – also to Chaturvedi – but Rao and Rafiq Melath saw out the win, chasing down MACC’s 120 in just 13.3 overs. This was four overs fewer than the 17.3 they needed to chase down MACC’s 127 in their first meeting, despite being without the services of Shahid or, for that matter, Bukhari, who has the third most runs in the conference but whose bat was not needed on Saturday. MACC threw every bowler they had at GPCL – six bowlers saw action – but nothing worked for them – and they were simply overwhelmed by GPCL.

Undefeated with just two matches left, GPCL looks a lock for a trip to Orlando this fall. Next up is the Washington Metropolitan Cricket Board at GPCL’s home ground on August 2, followed by a visit to New Jersey on August 30. MACC, meanwhile, will look to take whatever positives they can from Saturday’s match and hope to see better results in their final three games.