Following are the match reports of the North West Region at USA National Under-13 tournament which was held in Chicago.

Game 1:  Northwest displays its batting prowess
July 9th: 1:30pm v/s Northeast
Because of delays in the United Airways flights, most of the kids reached the hotel after 2:45 in the morning. And to make things worse, NWR got off to a rough start, as their main bowler, Supravo Goswami who would have been the fastest bowler in the tournament, was declared unfit to bowl in the tournament.

NER won the toss and elected to field. NWR openers, Captain Abhishek Kattuparambil 62 (61 balls, 6x4s, 1×6) and Ved Patel 59 (55 balls, 9x4s, 1×6) got NWR off to a brisk start with a partnership of 140 in around 21 overs. The inning ended with a sizzling partnership between Rahul Jariwala 23 not out (14 balls, 2x6s) and Supravo Goswami 19 (12, 2x4s, 1×6). One of Rahul’s six was a pull that landed way past the square-leg boundary, it was a stunning shot. NWR completed the inning at 224 for 3 (30 overs).

In response, NER could only reach 85 for 8, with a generous sprinkling of wides. Keshav Balaji (3-1-8-2) was the pick of the bowlers with some serious swing bowling. Rohith Bharanidharan though wicket-less, displayed some superb swing bowling too. Hari Nair (4-2-6-0) and Pratham Kataria (5-1-8-1) choked the NER’s batting with some disciplined bowling.
Man-of-the-Match: Abhishek Kattuparambil

North West Region captain Abhishek Kattuparambil won the best batsman and the under-13 MVP award. He scored 203 runs in four innings with an average of 101.5 and a strike rate of 103, he also had 3 catches and a stumping.

North West Region captain Abhishek Kattuparambil won the best batsman and the under-13 MVP award. He scored 203 runs in four innings with an average of 101.5 and a strike rate of 103, he also had 3 catches and a stumping. Top photo, North West Region team poses with winning trophy.

Game 2:  U13 Tournament discovers its star
July 10th: 6pm (day/night) v/s South East
NWR won the toss and elected to bat. A superb burst of swing and pace bowling ensured that NWR was tied down to 63 for 1 (Abhishek Kattuparambil scoring 44 not out) at the end of the 15th over. After the break, NWR quickly lost another wicket. This is when Abhishek Kattuparambil took over the game. Targeting the bowlers, he burst into a flurry of five sixes in a spate of four overs, including three in one. This was augmented with some deft singles that rotated the strike and frustrated the bowlers. Aman Rao (16 off 28, 1×4) gave very good support at the other end.

The crowd was denied a spectacular century when Abhishek was out for 97 (69 balls, 10x4s, 5x6s), the last 47 coming in 25 odd balls. The standing ovation resonated at the ground. It was dusk but there was a glow in the ground – a star was born. Abhishek had scored 97 of the 149 NWR runs. NWR consolidated their position, courtesy of a quick-fire 17 (14 balls, 1×4, 1×6) by Knish Bhalla. The monstrous six by Kanish stunned many a parent as he had hit a bowler who was almost twice his size. NWR ended their innings at 178 for 8 (30 overs).

With the lights switched on and some heavy dew present, NWR found it difficult to contain the hard-hitting SER opener. Runs were flowing and bowling changes were not helping. Things changed with a super catch at deep gully by the tiniest but one of the most agile NWR players, Hari Nair. This ignited the NWR team into shifting gears. The fielders had an extra spring in their step; the intensity was back and the bowlers found their rhythm. Vatsal Vaghela ran out SER’s hope with some sharp fielding at point. Rohith Bharanidharan (1 for 8 in 4 overs), Keshav Balaji (1 for 10 in 4 overs), and Akhil Arunachalam (0 for 12 in 4 overs), were the pick of the bowlers. SER folded up at 133 in 29.1 overs. The game ended close to 10:45pm and NWR kids were exhausted because of the humidity they were not accustomed to.
Man-of-the-Match: Abhishek Kattuparambil

Game 3:  Mother Nature rules
July 11th: 11am v/s Atlantic
Most of the NWR kids went to sleep after 12:30 am, but had to start early for this the 3rd game of the tournament. An exhausted lot marched to Ground 2. The outfield had thicker grass. Some of the kids like Rohith Bharanidharan and Rahul Jariwala had taped their swollen fingers while Abhishek Kattuparambil had an icy/hot tape on his pulled back muscle. But the kids were looking forward to battling Atlantic who won the toss and elected to take first strike. Atlantic got off to a slow start but losing only one wicket in the first 15 overs. This set a good platform for their middle-order to free their arms. Atlantic scored almost at 10 an over for the last seven overs, finishing at 138 for 3 (30 overs). There were some flashes of fielding brilliance; like a sharp catch by Pratham Kataria. Ved Patel (1 for 15 off 5 overs) and Vatsal Vaghela (1 for 8 off 4 overs) were the pick of the bowlers.

Atlantic bowlers started off with a good amount of pace and swing, aided by overcast conditions. For the first time the NWR looked to be in trouble. At 13 for 2 in 6 overs, it was time to settle down and play sensible. Vatsal Vaghela joined Abhishek Kattuparambil and the pair stemmed the rot. Abhishek changed gears flicking a six over square leg, followed by a boundary. Vatsal’s dismissal, trying to up the run rate, got Supravo Goswami to the crease, and who launched 2x4s in a 12 run over. With four more top-order batsmen geared up, 78 in 16 overs with 7 wickets was achievable; more so as Atlantic was bowling their secondary string of bowlers. However, Mother Nature wanted NWR kids to enjoy a natural phenomenon, which they were missing for the last few years; called ‘rain’. A drizzle turned into steady showers and NWR ended up being stranded at 55 for 3 in 14 overs (Abhishek – 23 not out off 29 deliveries, 1×4, 1×6), and losing by 12 runs. Those three wickets had turned the equation against NWR. Absent spectators were robbed of a good contest.

The North West Region team warming up before a game.

The North West Region team warming up before a game.

Game 4: Beware of the Velociraptors
July 12th: FINALS: 11am v/s Atlantic (20 overs)
A couple of things the coaches/managers/parents of other regions noticed were the discipline and the team dynamics of the NWR team. The team played and moved like a pack, a unit. An evening of pep talk, some family time and a good night’s sleep; the kids woke up, switched to their “velociraptor” mode, hungry for the U13 nationals cup.  As depicted in the movie Jurassic World, T-Rex was considered dangerous, but nothing was as dangerous as velociraptors, who hunted in packs and mercilessly hunted down their prey.

Atlantic won the toss for the T-20 finals and was immediately corned by the raptors, which showed amazing agility on the field. There were not one but three fielders backing every throw, there were always two fielders converging on any ball.

Hari Nair (0 for 5 in 3 overs), Keshav Balaji (2 for 10 in 4 overs) and Aman Rao (2 for 6 in 3 overs) rummaged through the Atlantic line up while Akhil Arunachalam (3 for 12 in 4 overs) ensured that the Atlantic tail did not wag. The bowlers were well-supported by some excellent catching, notably Kanish Bhalla’s catch at short cover and Abhishek Kattuparambil’s catch behind the wickets.  Cornered, Atlantic collapsed for 44 in 18.2 overs. The young talented NWR bowlers had risen to the big occasion and delivered a performance that pulled the rug out from under Atlantic’s feet.

NWR changed the batting order, sending Keshav Balaji in, as Abhishek Kattuparambil’s partner.  There was a mini collapse including a spectacular outfield catch to get Supravo Goswami out. Though wickets were falling at one end, captain Abhishek kept his cool, rotating the strike, before launching a six over the mid-wicket boundary. NWR reached the target scoring 45 for 3 in 12.3 overs; Abhishek not out (21 off 30, 1×4, 1×6).

Man-of-the-Match: Abhishek Kattuparambil