Week three of Minor League Cricket exhibition announced

Saurabh Netravalkar USA
Saurabh Netravalkar USA

Minor League Cricket’s exhibition season has been in full swing these past two weekends, and there’s more to come. USA Cricket announced a slate of 11 games for the third weekend of MiLC’s extended exhibition season. 

Over the first two weekends, 18 teams across five zones played 26 games, with USA Cricket veterans, First Class, former internationals, T20 pros, and top local club cricketers competing shoulder to shoulder. 

Rusty Theron’s East Bay Blazers of the Bay Area group remain the only unbeaten team out of 18, with a record of 3-0. The USA fast bowler has looked dominant on turf, taking 7 wickets across 12 overs at a 3.83 economy. The Blazers play twice on Saturday, first against the Sillicon Valley Strikers (2-1) led by Shadley Van Schalkwyk (119 runs at 127.96), and next against USA Captain Saurabh Netravalkar’s (4 wickets at 5.75 economy) winless Golden State Grizzlies (0-4). On Sunday the Grizzlies challenge the Strikers to round out the weekend’s games for the Bay Area group. 

The Texas group was the only other to play on turf wickets in week two, but this weekend’s games in Dallas will be on an artificial surface. On Saturday, the hometown Irving Mustangs (3-1) hope that former Pakistan International Syed Najaf Shah can stay white hot against centurion Rameez Raja (103* against Austin on 19/9) and the Houston Hurricanes (1-2-0-1). On Sunday, the Mustangs complete the Texas group’s weekend against Austin Athletics (1-2-0-1) and rising star Ali Samad (57* from 35 to chase Houston on 19/9).

The Midwest Group will see their second weekend of games, with Chicago Catchers (0-1) opening up in Skokie, Illinois with a rematch against Michigan Cricket Stars (1-1). The Catchers took the Stars right down to the wire, but their 53 run opening partnership between Sarwar Ghori and Waseem Khan wasn’t enough to overcome Stars captain Shaker Ahmed’s blistering 72 from 52, and Chicago fell only four runs short of the target. On Sunday, Michigan travels to Des Plaines, Illinois to face the Chicago Blasters (1-0) for another rematch. Last weekend in Michigan, the Blasters lived up to their name with Anirudh Jonnavitula (74 from 41) leading the side to 183/5 in the first innings. In the chase, Nikhil Kanchan scored 67 from 48, but was victim to Humain Amin’s clutch three wicket 20th over, and the visitors held on to win by 8. 

Five games were postponed last weekend as a member of the DC Hawks tested positive for Covid-19 following the first weekend of games. The Hawks remain inactive for the second consecutive weekend following the confirmed infection. The Empire State Titans and The Philadelphians resume play this weekend. 

The 2-1 Titans travel to Connecticut on Saturday to face off against all rounder Assad Fudadin (109 runs with the bat, 3 wickets with the ball) and the New England Eagles. Titan’s Finisher Waseem Shahzehd (98 runs, 208.51 strike rate) looks to resume form. Also in the East, Dominique Rikhi’s fast start (203 runs at 131.83 strike rate) has helped the NJ Stallions to a 2-1 record, but the star-studded Somerset Cavaliers (1-1) and Aaron Jones (61 runs at 127.08 strike rate) have a chance to pass them in the table with a win. A win for the Stallions, however, could set them up with an opportunity to leave the group behind on Sunday, as they travel to face The Philadelphians (0-1), headed by first overall draft pick and USA All Rounder Karima Gore (3 wickets at 5.25 economy, and 26 runs with the bat at 152.94 strike rate). The Philadelphians will face Somerset Cavaliers later on Sunday to close out the weekend.

Florida teams have yet to name their squads, and the Southern California teams have yet to play a game. There is no official word yet on the final length of this exhibition season.

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