By Supriya Desai
The domestic cricket structure laid out by USA Cricket involving different zones across the country and a scheduled fixture with starting and completion dates planned across the country simultaneously was a grandiose plan and a cricketer’s delight.
While many of the states across the country had to go the extra mile to complete their teams, some players from other States crisscrossed the nation to join other squads in the Intra-Regionals. North Carolina was the only state to have two full-fledged women’s cricket teams.
Raleigh Racers team contact Jana Chellaperumal and coach Alvin Kalicharran worked remarkably well along with Chapel Hill Bears team contact Rupali and coach Rohaan Gosala, to help USA cricket achieve the set targets and goals in the required time.
Mitali Patwardhan (C) and Aafia Khazi (VC), TCL youth players, led the Raleigh Racers team against the Chapel Hill Bears led by USA player Geetika Kodali (C) and TCL youth player Bhumika Bhadriraju (VC) in the last scheduled fixture of the Intra-Regionals tournament.
Two North Carolina teams played a 30-overs game at Church Street Park under floodlights. The venue brought stature and dignity to the matches.
Earlier, the Chapel Hill Bears had won the toss and elected to bat. The early loss of wickets put the Bears in a cautious mindset. Bhumika Bhadriraju and Parveen Baig stabilized and slowed down the fall of wickets. Bhumika’s incredible form was evident as she steered the Chapel Hill Bears to a comfortable position for the second time in the series.
Bhumika’s composed innings of 42 in 73 balls, along with Geetika Kodali’s galvanizing knock of 26 in 25 balls with 1×4, put Chapel Hill Bears in a commanding position. Saba Shah’s cameo of 12 in 12 with 1×4 jacked up the run rate and set a decent total to defend.
Raleigh’s pick of the bowlers was Aafia Khazi and Chinmayee Katti, with two wickets apiece, while Aastha Patel and Sneha Patil each took one wicket. The Raleigh bowlers Elaa Johri and Swapna Bandi bowled very economically and kept the run flow in check.
Raleigh Racers took on the run chase needing 182 to win in 30 overs. The Bears’ bowlers Jyothi Gade and Bhumika struck early. Jyothi’s opening spell, two for 8 in 3 overs, was complimented on the other end by Bhumi, who took an early wicket. The initial three-wicket loss provided a much-needed break and stalled the Racers’ run chase.
The Bears continued to trouble the Racers with some economical bowling in the middle overs. Supriya’s 1 for 16 in 4 overs helped contain the top-order batters.
The top scorers for Raleigh Racers were Mitali Patwardhan, who scored 39 of 77 balls with 1×4, Elaa Johri, who scored 21 of 36 with 1×4; and Aafia scored 12 of 24 balls. For the Bears, Jyothi and Bhumika took two wickets each while Supriya took one wicket. The Chapel Hill Bears, whose target was set high, took home the win comfortably through the DLS calculation.
Player of the match: Bhumika Bhadriraju.
Here is the scorecard: https://cricclubs.com/USACricket/fullScorecard.do?&matchId=311&clubId=4273
Here is the report from the kick-off and the games against Atlanta South Heat from the weekend of June 4th.
The tournament took off with a great start, with USA Women’s Cricket head coach Julia Price and USA Women’s Cricket national coordinator Julie Abbott both present at the venue.
FRIDAY JUNE 4th – DAY 1- 40-OVERS MATCH- ATLANTA vs. RALEIGH
The match was reduced to 30-overs due to rain and a delayed start.
Earlier, Atlanta won the toss and elected to bowl. The opening bowlers for Atlanta J. Wiilathgamuwa and J. Suthan kept the Raleigh Racers under pressure. J. Suthan was able to dislodge the Racers’ top-order in a fantastic opening spell. The top scorers for Raleigh Racers were Aafia khazi, who scored 13 of 27 balls; Mitali Patwardhan scored 14 of 40 balls; and Kshama Rajneesh, who scored 11 of 33 balls.
Atlanta’s J. Suthan’s return spell yielded her a few more wickets.
The top wicket-takers from Atlanta South heat were J. Suthan with 4 for 13 in 4 overs and D. Sivakumar with 3 for 19 in 5 overs. J. Wiilathgamuwa, Ankitha Ajith, and Durga Datla took one wicket each. Atlanta defeated Raleigh by five wickets.
Player of the match – Janani Suthan.
Here is the scorecard: https://www.cricclubs.com/USACricket/viewScorecard.do?matchId=289&clubId=4273
SATURDAY JUNE 5th – DAY 2 – GAME 1 – T-20 MATCH – ATLANTA vs. CHAPEL HILL
After playing a 40-overs game against Raleigh Racers on Friday, June 4th, the visiting Atlanta’s South Heat team was scheduled to play 2×T-20 games against both North Carolina teams on Saturday, June 5th.
The first T-20 game against Atlanta saw a towering knock from USA national player and Chapel Hill – Bears captain Geetika Kodali go in vain. After winning the toss, the Bears had chosen to bat first. Geetika scored 65 runs off 40 balls with 6×4s and 4×6s and remained unbeaten.
Earlier on, Chapel Hill’s inning was steered ably by Saba Shah to build a decent total. Saba Shah scored 35 runs in 51 balls with 2×4s. Aparna Bhadriraju, who scored 14 runs of 17 balls with 2×4s, ably supported Shah. The top wicket-taker for Atlanta was J. Suthan with 2 for 19 in 3 overs, while Swati Mishra, Anuradha Sundar, and Hiral Patel took one wicket apiece.
The Atlanta South heat took on the run chase needing 147 runs to win in 20 overs. USA National players Shebani Bhaskar and Nadia Gruny stood like a rock and did not let the Bears dislodge their run chase. Their unbeaten partnership saw the Atlanta team sail home comfortably.
Atlanta defeated Chapel Hill by nine wickets.
Player of the match: Shebhani Bhaskar
Here is the scorecard: https://www.cricclubs.com/USACricket/viewScorecard.do?matchId=290&clubId=4273
DAY 2 – SATURDAY JUNE 5th – GAME 2 – T-20 MATCH – ATLANTA vs. RALEIGH
The second T-20 game saw a great composed captain’s knock from Raleigh Racers Mitali Patwardhan. The game also saw some excellent bowling from the Raleigh bowlers. Earlier, Raleigh won the toss and chose to bat first. Captain Mitali and vice-captain Aafia took to the crease.
Mitali seemed comfortable from the start hitting a maximum off just the third ball of the inning. Her non-striker partner and vice-captain Aafia played cautiously but fell LBW to J. Wiilathgamuwa. Aafia scored nine and hit one boundary in the 12 balls she faced. The other contributions from the bat were from Swapna Bandi, Sneha Patil, and Asia, who remained unbeaten. Swapna scored ten runs in 18 balls, Sneha scored 12 runs in 17 balls, and Asia scored five runs in 10 balls.
The highlight of Raleigh’s innings was the young captain’s knock. Mitali stayed at the crease from start to finish and played brilliantly and responsibly. She was run-out on the last ball of the innings. Mitali scored 59 off 64 balls with 1×4 and 2×6s and helped Raleigh accumulate 113 runs for their total.
Some great bowling from Raleigh hampered Atlanta’s response to the run chase. Aaafia, Zeenat, and Chinmayee gave the breakthrough and took two wickets to put Raleigh in the driver’s seat. Swapna Bandi also took one wicket in her short two-over spell.
Raleigh defeated Atlanta by 11 runs.
Player of the match: Mitali Patwardhan.
Here is the scorecard: https://www.cricclubs.com/USACricket/viewScorecard.do?matchId=295&clubId=4273
DAY 3 – Sunday, June 6th – 40-overs game – Atlanta vs. Chapel Hill
The 40-overs game between Atlanta South Heat and Chapel Hill Bears ended dramatically as the rain played the spoiled sport.
What seemed like a comfortable target set by the Bears ended up with anxious moments for both teams due to the Duckworth–Lewis method.
Earlier in the day, Chapel Hill Bears won the toss and elected to bat. Saba Shah and Aparna Bhadriraju took to crease. The top-order collapse from Chapel Hill Bears brought some initial stress but Bears Bhumika Bhadriraju, and the veteran player Saba Shah steered the CH -Bears team to a comfortable target. Saba Shah stayed at the crease for 39 of the 40 stipulated overs, and her excellent knock of 69 runs off 109 balls included 4×4s. Bhumika scored 53 of 101 balls, including 3×4s.
Atlanta’s pick of the bowlers was Swati Mishra with 3 for 29 in 7 overs; Jessica Wiilathgamuwa Ankitha Ajith and Janani Suthan took one wicket each. The 198 run target set by Bears in 40 overs seemed tall fetched, but with a batswoman like Shebani Bhaskar at the crease, the game could swing either way.
The Bears were determined to defend the total and began their bowling attack. Chapel Hill captain Geetika and vice-captain Bhumika started the Bears attack from the opposite ends. The combination of pace and spin from opposite ends kept the batter guessing. Economical and strategic bowling from Bhumika got a maiden in her first and got a couple of breakthroughs in her subsequent overs. She was the most economical bowler getting two wickets for three runs in 4 overs.
She was ably supported by other bowlers who very economical as well. Bhavana D. Katti, Parveen Baig, and Supriya Desai got one wicket each.
The Atlanta inning was cut short with a sudden outburst of non-stop pouring rain. At this point, Atlanta had completed 28.4 overs and needed 64 runs to win. The superb knocks from Saba Shah and Bhumika Bhadriraju proved crucial in The DLS calculation. Chapel Hill Bears won the match against Atlanta South Heat in a nail-biting finish.
Here is the scorecard: https://www.cricclubs.com/USACricket/viewScorecard.do?matchId=300&clubId=4273