Washington Cricket League
The WCL Premier Division competition is heating up and contenders are separating from pretenders. Looks like again it will be a two team race with Washington Tigers and Virginia Cricket Club towards the end. But Titans Cricket Club has closed the gap and peaking at the right time with some very good wins in the last three weeks. Also Dulles Cricket Club will be a factor and have already beaten a very strong Washington Tigers team earlier in the year.

More fascinating storyline is at the bottom of the Premier Division where teams are trying to avoid relegation. Currently four teams are tied for the worst record Vikings, Boyds, UMBC and Zolon Challengers.  Vikings are the last year runners up in WCL Premier division and both Zolon and UMBC just got promoted to the WCL Premier Division this year. Boyds is a surprising team in this list which has amazing talent like National Team player Adil Bhatti and veterans like Basheer Aslam and Roshan Rao. This will be a tight race all the way towards the end and don’t be surprised if one of these teams make a run and end up making it to the big dance either.

The competition in Washington Cricket League Premier Division is very close and teams have international and first Class presence across the board. Current USA players like Steven Taylor (Zolon). Karan Ganesh (Titans). Adam Sanford (Virginia). Barrington Bartley (Virginia) and Akeem Dodson (Tigers) are regular participants in WCL.

With that, here is the weekend round up in Washington Cricket League Premier Division in week 7 and www.newyorkcricket.com will give you a WCL weekly roundup moving forward.

Tigers vs Nitro:
Washington Tigers were short handed for this game due to unavailability of Charan Singh, Mohammed Kamran and Junaid Rasheed who all were participating in the Atlantic Region Inter League games last week. Tigers lost the toss and captain Dishant Parikh quickly put Tigers to bat. USA National Akeem Dodson opened the innings with Anirudh Roy and both put together 50 plus runs opening partnership. Akeem got out on 27 and Anirudh scored 19 runs. Tigers were 96 for 3 when Dawood Ahmed got caught out by Prachant Joshi.

Danial Ahmed picked up 4 for 21 in Tigers win.

Then a partnership of another 50 runs between Danial Ahmed and Sujeet Parbatani put Tigers on track to get 200 total but Prachant Joshi had Sujeet cleaned bowled. Tigers could not manage any more partnerships and kept losing wickets. At the end, Danial did not have enough support and Tigers were all out for 166 at 38th over. Danial Ahmed scored 25 Runs not out. In reply Nitro did not have a great start and lost the opening batsman Vishal Khatri to an up and coming bowler Shami Singh. Nitro never got any momentum going in early part of the inning and were 40 for 4 when the captain Dishant Parikh came to rescue. Dishant and brother Neel had a great partnership of 60 plus runs and put Nitro at a very strong position to chase the total but lost Neel wicket to season veterans Imran Awan.

Still the game was in balance with Dishant on the crease and Nitro needing 21 runs in 3 overs. Then another USA national came to Tigers rescue. Daniel Ahmed got Dishant Parikh out LBW in his very first over of the second spell. Danial took 4 wicket for 21 run and rescued the Tiger with his tight spell. Shami Singh took 2 wickets and Imran Awan, Junaid Saeed and Sujeet Parbatani took 1 wicket each. Nitro could only manage 148 runs and lost by 18 runs.

Dulles VS UMBS:
UMBC Cricket Club played Dulles Cricket Club at William Wirt on Saturday. Dulles won the toss and elected to bat first on a bright sunny day. Dulles openers got off to a good start scoring 80 runs in first 14 overs. Yaseen Karche scored 60 whereas Kartik Radhakrishnan made 40. UMBC pulled things back in the next 14 overs by grabbing some quick wickets leaving Dulles at 142/5 after 28 overs. Deepak Tyagi, after getting dropped thrice, made full use of the opportunity and ended up as the highest scorer for Dulles. Deepak scored 87. Samuel Lalzare was the pick of the UMBC bowlers with breathtaking figures of 8-1-9-2. UMBC captain Rikin Parikh also chipped in with 2 wickets. Dulles scored 241/7 in their 40 overs.

UMBC, chasing 242 for victory, got off to the worst possible start. Losing Rahul Bhanot and Shahid Hanif in quick succession, UMBC was 3/2 after 4 overs. Minhaj Shahid and Anand Patel steadied the ship with a 74 run partnership. UMBC lost 3 quick wickets and was again in a spot of bother. Minhaj who scored 42 was holding one end tight. James George provided fireworks in the second half of the chase, scoring a quick fire 54 that included 6 huge sixes along with captain Rikin who scored 33. After losing James and Rikin, UMBC lost the plot. UMBC ended up scoring 227/9 in their 40 overs, losing the game by 14 runs.

Zolon vs AFCA:
AFCA won the toss and elected to field on a good Metro wicket with short boundaries and great weather. Stephen Taylor (USA’s international opening batsman) was out of the first legal delivery when he played a casual shot across the line to a length ball and scooped up an easy catch at extra covers. Gourav went in next and after just a few more runs, Srini was out bowled, when he played across the line, got an inside edge and was bowled. Kaushal went in next and was bowled the very first ball to a ball that swung a long way from the leg stump and hit the top of off. This brought Raghav to the crease. After a cautious start, runs began to flow and both Gourav and Raghav started to get comfortable. Then came the most unfortunate out of the game for Zolon. Gourav casually moved a few inches out of his crease (lifted his bat) while the bowler was delivering the ball and the bowler ran him out. He was extremely disappointed but had no choice but to walk back.

Digant went in next and along with Raghav put together a good partnership. Raghav was doing most of the scoring and Digant was playing solid defense. He was determined to play through the innings. At the break, the score was 65/4. Unfortunately, Raghav got out in the 14th over (first over after the break) when he tried to pull Anees, missed the ball and was out lbw. Next came in Anurag and he got out very quickly after scoring 4 runs.

Juber went in next and supported Digant well and the partnership was ended with a very silly run-out. Vivek came in next and got out cheaply. Zolon was in trouble now and needed a partnership desperately which is exactly what Juber and Rahi (the next batsman provided). Rahi supported Juber with good singles and doubles. These two players took the score to 150 when Zolon were teetering at 98/8. Juber scored 45 runs and Rahi scored around 19 before Zolon was all out in 38th over. Our final score was 160. Juber and Rahi had given us something to defend on a beautiful batting track.

For AFCA, Rahi and Vivek opened the bowling for Zolon. Vivek drew first blood when he got the other opener out caught and bowled. Nauman came in and struggled to get the ball off. Hamid was finally out, after hitting a few 6s, a couple of them huge, when he didn’t get to Vivek’s ball and skied the ball to long off where Kaushal made no mistake. This brought the hard hitting Ahsan to the crease and connected on a few balls to get a couple of 6’s.

After a reasonable partnership between Nauman and Ahsan (where Ahsan did the bulk of the scoring) Nauman got out stumped while he tried to force a shot off Kaushal and this brought Anees to the crease. They batted well together, but against the run of play, Anees played a very soft shot back to the bowler (Kaushal) who happily accepted the gift. This brought Shahid to the crease. Ahsan tried a slog on a good delivery and skied it for Gourav to take a catch on his own bowling. This was a huge wicket as Ahsan had been the primary scorer up to this point.

This brought another hard hitting batsman – Hassan Qureshi to the crease. But he didn’t last long as Rahi got him out LBW on a ball that he tried to play across. As the batsman was walking back, Ammar Hassan started to walk into bat but Shahid Munir changed his mind and asked for another batsman to come out to bat. As Ammar walked out, Zolon immediately appealed to the umpire for “Declared Out” and after a few forceful appeals, the umpire did give him out. Karma had played its hand for Gourav’s dismissal.

All of a sudden AFCA was down 7 wickets with another 30+ runs to score. The next batsman was Irfan Mahmood and he scored a huge 6 off Rahi. Kaushal came in to bowl from the other end and Shahid hit him for a 6 through midwicket, but a couple of balls later, Kaushal beat him and had him clearly stumped, but umpire missed a very clear call. Anyway, the equation was 10 runs in 4 overs. Vivek was brought back in to the attack and he got 2 wickets in 2 balls after conceding a boundary of the first ball. One wicket left, 6 runs to score. Zolon immediately had Rahi come in to bowl from the other end. Instructions given to him were simple: Keep it full and on the stumps. Yorker is what was needed.

The equation was 4 runs in 2 overs, with the last wicket. Rahi bowled a full toss, but Shahid could not connect and the ball hit his pads and the umpire gave Shahid out.

It was a great game of cricket with both teams fighting it out and AFCA would feel that Zolon took this game away from them after a nail biting finish.

Titans vs Kensington:
It was a dark and gloomy Sunday afternoon as Titans were hosting Kensington at Bucklodge for the WCL regular season game. Titans captain Rizwan Hassan won the toss and elected to bat. Kensington were playing with nine men. Titans opener Muhammad Saqib and Naumanullah went out to open the innings. Naumanullah fell cheaply top-edging the second ball of the match to the keeper.

Gowkaran Roopnarine of Kensington. Photo by Shiek Mohamed

Rizwan Hassan, Titans captain went in and steadied the innings with Saqib. The pair batted until the 23rd over and steadily moved the scoreboard. When Saqib got out, wickets started to fall from the other end for Titans. Even as wickets were falling, Rizwan batted with persistence and scored a handy 62. Titan’s last wicket partnership added 55, which led Titans to a total of 242 for 9. Kensington opened the innings with Gowkaran Roopnarine (Juicy), former USA opening batsman along with Christopher Van Tull (USA U-19 wicket-keeper).

The pair started cautiously early on. Chris fell in the third over of the innings giving an easy catch to the cover fielder Shoaib Ahmed. Gowkaran Roopnarine from the other end was playing powerful shots all around the ground. He was looking in great rhythm as he was timing the ball with perfection. As Titans were looking to stop the destruction of Gowkaran Roopnarine, the captain handed the ball to Waleed Karimullah (Former USA U-19 bowler) and he struck in his first over removing Roopnarine holding out in the deep cover boundary. Waleed Karimullah was bowling an excellent line and length and picked up a five-wicket haul against Kensington. The wicket of Roopnarine cost Kensington heavily as they were bundled out for a mere 76.

Boyds vs Vikings:
Games between Vikings and Boyds are generally quite competitive and this game was no exception. The teams are evenly matched and bring a lot of competitive spirit to the ground.

Boyds won the toss and duly elected to bat. Basheer and Danish opened for Boyds and began cautiously. Right when it looked like they would start opening up, Danish got run out in an unfortunate way.

Adil and Basheer continued to the first drinks break, with  Adil unleashing his trademark well timed classic lofted sixes to advance the score further. Basheer got out trying to up the ante, but Adil kept Boyds going. He was strong all around the wicket and looked good to go for a big score before in his mid-30’s he lost his wicket against the grain of play. Zain, who had joined Adil continued his good form and played some exquisite cuts. He was joined by Roshan and both built a very good partnership. By the second break Boyds were comfortably placed around 130/3.

However, after that a batting collapse ensued due to which Roshan had to lay anchor. Eventually Roshan fell close to his half century. Boyds managed to score 171 in their allotted 40 overs, an under par score on Soccerplex.

Vikings too began cautiously. Waleed is a big hitter and if he gets going, the game goes away from you very quickly. Today was not his day, though. Adil bowled the right line and length, and quite quickly with the new ball. Adil troubled both batsmen with his pace and accuracy. Waleed got a few chances but could not capitalize on them. Ankit bowled his crafty spin and his change of pace had both batsmen guessing. Both openers went back to the dugout sooner than they would have liked. Na’il batted doggedly and hit some good productive shots.

Along with Ammar, who is technically correct, very stable, and a reliable batsman, they both pushed Vikings closer to the target. Basheer brought in Pranjal who got rid of the dangerous Na’il and brought a new batsman to the crease. A notable mention from Boyds bowling perspective is the new player Zubair Awan. He is tall and he can generate a very good pace. He gets a lot of bounce and is difficult to get away. His bowling created a lot of pressure on the Vikings batsmen. He followed up his hat-trick from the previous game to a few more wickets in this game including the all-important wicket of Ammar who top edged a rising delivery.

That brought Kartik to the crease. He is a very busy player and a quick runner between the wickets. He played a lead role and guided the other batsmen. At the end, it came down to 2 wickets remaining, 4 runs to win in 2 overs. Though some players volunteered to bowl, Basheer Aslam Khan, the captain of Boyds, took the responsibility and the ball. His second delivery got rid of the ninth wicket caught at short covers, and Boyds were jubilant. The next delivery was on the money again, homing straight at the middle stump and the tail ender duly missed it. Boyds players were ecstatic and very happy to have gotten a win out of this close game.