The Rutgers University’s players came into the Northeast Conference Championship determined to show that they were better than their performance at the 2010 American College Cricket Spring Break Championship last March. NYU-Poly, led by USA fast bowler Adrian Gordon, was out to avenge their defeat by Rutgers at the nationals, and win the Northeast title.

Champions, Rutgers University Cricket.

Idlewild Cricket Field in Queens is one of the most beautiful fields in the Tri-state, and whilst the outfield was soft and slow from a week’s worth of rain, conditions were wonderful for the Finals of American College Cricket Northeast Championship, as these 2 teams took the field. Planes roared overhead from nearby JFK Airport as NYU-Poly batted first in the brilliant sunshine on a cool autumn day. It didn’t go unnoticed that the 2 schools also represented NJ and NY respectively.

NYU-Poly’s Jags Singh seemed reluctant to run, but then pulled a four finally in the 3rd over. The openers Nardik Shah and Singh struggled against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights’ opening bowling attack of Sapan Sharma and Udit Patel and lost 2 quick wickets. Captain Adrian Gordon got off the mark with a beautiful cover drive for 4. Yet after 6 overs NYU-Poly had made only 27 runs for 2 wickets and Gordon was back sitting down pensively.

A mix-up between Hardik Singh and NYU-Poly’s Master’s candidate Orval Crawford resulted in a run out, and the score was 30 for 3. Tight bowling by Divyesh Gandhi and  Nisarg Choksi further tightened the screws on the NYU-Poly batsmen and their Captain Gordon was somber looking on the sidelines as Rutgers’ Captain Choksi set his fielders with precision – it seemed every ball was hit to a fielder!

6′ 2 Ashrab Cheema played 2 years in the NYC High School cricket (PSAL) Cricket League and in the NYPD Cricket League, now he was batting for NYU-Poly. Cheema graduated high school early, and amazingly is only 16 years old! He is among the new breed of American cricketers in NYC who are getting the opportunity to play cricket in high school and continue onto to college cricket. Cheema extended his left leg and played a beautiful off drive for 4 but then lofted one and was caught at square leg – the Rutgers fielders seemed to hold every catch!

2. Ashrab Cheema of NYU-Poly being interviewed by Shanae Strong, 2008 Ms. Teen Bahamas.

With the score at only 50 after 13 overs the NYU-Poly batsmen had no option but to try to go for it, and Ankit Pandhya was able to wrap up the tail by getting 3 wickets for 11 runs and NYU-Poly were all out for only 71.  The ground was large and the soft out field slow, but Rutgers University seemed set for a win! Divyesh Gandhi took 2 wickets for 13 runs and Akhil Shankar 2 for 5.

Choksi opened Rutgers’ batting by on driving for a beautiful 4 but the determined NYU-Poly team struck back and Rutgers was soon 15 for 2! Choksi drove a short one over mid-on for 4 but after 6 overs Rutgers had 27 runs – the same run rate NYU-Poly had at that point.

Gordon came on, and eschewed his usual express pace for a short run up and swinging the ball. Only 1 run was scored off his first over then Choksi a free hit for 4, which did not sit well with Gordon, who swung the next ball in to clean bowl the dangerous-looking Choksi (for 21) and the Scarlet Knights were 40 for 3 !

50 runs for the Scarlet Knights came in the 13th over but in the 14th over they lost their 4th wicket! Their strategy of going slowly after the low target appeared to be back-firing.

Alok Prabhu took 3 quick wickets for 9 runs, and Rutgers was reeling! Jagminder Singh came back and claimed 2 wickets and NYU-Poly looked like they would win but Divyesh Gandhi and Parth Shah managed to hold on and Gandhi cover drove for 4 runs in the 19th over to seal the Championship for Rutgers and confirm his MVP award !

The Trophy was presented to Rutgers’ Captain Nisarg Choksi, and his team, by American College Cricket President Lloyd Jodah and former Miss Teen Bahamas Shanae Strong. ACC VP Nino DiLoreto came in from Florida to see some very good cricket from the student athletes of Boston University, York College, NYU-Polytechnic, City College (of NY) and Rutgers University.

Earlier in the Northeast Championship Rutgers had defeated City College (of New York) and Boston University to go unbeaten and establish the Scarlet Knights as # 1 in the Northeast in American College Cricket!