Minor League Cricket exhibition week 4, Church Street Park debuts under lights

Church Street Park in Morrisville, North Carolina
Church Street Park in Morrisville, North Carolina

Minor League Cricket will feature ten games in the 4th weekend of competition, per USA Cricket’s announcement. With North Carolina’s Church Street Park making its Minor League debut, the weekend will see six games on turf, the highest percentage of turf games played in any exhibition weekend to date. 

New Jersey Somerset Cavaliers (2-1) start the weekend in New York at Idlewild Park with a double header against Empire State Titans (2-2). The Cavaliers exploded last weekend and beat New Jersey Stallions by 94 runs to leapfrog to the top of the Eastern table. Slugger Syed Abdullah started off the assault with 55 off of 31 in the number three spot, and Shawn Findlay closed it out with 32* off of 16 to lead the Cavs to a first innings total of 166/7. USA bowler Jessy Singh grounded the Stallions chase before it could take off, claiming two wickets in the first over, including a diving effort to catch Oraine Williams off of his own bowling. Jessy ended the game with the eye popping figures of 4-11-5.

Empire State hopes to bounce back from a 3 wicket loss to Assad Fudadin and New England Eagles that went right down to the 119th ball. Jaladh Dhua helped the Titans set a target of 162/9 with his 71 from 52 balls. Two dramatic runouts in the 20th over of the chase, including the wicket of the red hot Fudadin (80 off of 51) scampering to get on strike on the fourth ball of the over, left the Eagles with three runs needed to win from the final two. On the very next ball, new batsman Karthikeya Jagadish went down on one knee and smashed Derone Davis over the deep midwicket boundary for the walk off win with a ball to spare.

Jessy Singh’s effort earned the wicket of Oraine Williams

The Cavaliers will close their weekend on Sunday against The Philadelphians (0-1) back at the Howe Athletic Complex in New Jersey. The Philadelphians will be playing in only their second and third exhibition games, having the misfortune of two weekends postponed by Covid-19 after losing their first game to DC Hawks by 30 runs. DC have yet to resume action since a player tested positive following the first weekend of games. Following their matchup against the mighty Cavs, Philly will face the aforementioned New England Eagles (1-3). 

In Texas, games return to Prairie View on Saturday, as the Austin Athletics (1-3-0-1) face the first place Irving Mustangs (4-2). Austin have struggled against Irving’s bowling, losing by 12, 52, and 69 in their three matchups, having twice won the toss, deciding to bowl first. The team’s lone half century has come from the bat of Ali Samad, scoring 57 not out to lead the A’s to victory against Houston on September 19. 

The experienced bowling attack of Nosthush Kenjige and Syed Najaf Shah lead the way for the Mustangs, but the young core has punched above their weight and boosted the team to the top of the table after six games. “I think we have a very good mix of experience and youth in the side,” Nosthush Kenjige told Emerging Cricket. “The youngsters are starting to find their feet and have been fearless in their approach. It rubs off on the whole team and we are looking to play the same brand of fearless cricket going forward and top the table.” 

The Dallas area team has had to adapt to the turf wickets of Prairie View, an important feature of the whole league, as Nosh sees it. “We had a couple games on turf, and we had a 1-1 record. The younger guys will realise that adaptation is the key. The more we play on turf, the more you learn about your game and find areas that you need to work upon. It’s an exciting time for the youngsters with MLC offering the opportunity to play on turf…Great exposure for them, but well needed and the correct step in the right direction.”

The Mustangs will face the Houston Hurricanes (2-2-0-1) on Sunday in a rematch of last week’s super over thriller, which Houston won thanks in part to an 89 run first wicket partnership between Rana Ali (54 from 30) and Rameez Raja (82 from 47). Captain Shayan Jahangir has shown his value as an all rounder, with 5 wickets from 11 overs across 3 innings for Houston to go with his 113 runs with the bat. Raja’s 232 runs at 161.11 are good enough to place him 3rd in the Minor League.  

With both Houston and Austin ending the weekend with six exhibitions played in total, a fifth weekend of exhibition games in Texas seems ideal. 

Steven Taylor returns to Church Street Park

Church Street Park in Morrisville, North Carolina will be the proud hosts of the first Minor League Cricket game under the lights, with the opening ball set for 5:30pm EST. Jaskaran Malhotra looks to lead the home town Cardinals (1-2) against the Atlanta Param Veers (3-1), hoping for better results on home turf. “The boys are looking good, they’re used to the turf. If we jell well as a team and hold onto chances, we should be good,” Jaskaran told Emerging Cricket on Friday. The Cardinals will be playing in front of no fans, per local Covid-19 policy. “I would love to have 1,500 people here, but right now everyone’s safety is most important.” The Captain scored 100 in Atlanta the first time Morrisville faced the Param Veers, but the inexperience of the young Cardinals reared its head in the chase. Darpan Patel launched 106 from 36 to lead the way, and PV easily chased down the 161 target in the 15th over.

Saturday’s game marks the return of Steven Taylor to Church Street Park. Blasting a barrage of sixes into the Morrisville pine trees, Taylor chased 22 runs in the final over of a thriller against Canada in the 2018 T20 World Cup ICC Americas Qualifier. Taylor will get two chances to recreate his famous moment, as the Cardinals and Param Veers face off again on Sunday at noon.

The west coast is quiet on Saturday, but Saurabh Netravalkar’s Golden State Grizzlies (1-5) will play a double header on Sunday against the Silicon Valley Strikers (3-2) and the East Bay Blazers (4-1). The Grizzlies finally got off the mark last weekend with a 3 wicket win over the Strikers. Four tidy overs from Rudolph Hinds (4-15-1) helped the Grizzlies limit the Strikers to 155/6 in the first innings. Coming in seven down in the chase with five overs to go, Hinds left no debate for the man of the match, brutalizing Strikers bowlers to the tune of 39 runs off of 17 balls. The dominating performance from Hinds turned the match on its head and the Grizzlies won with 4 balls to spare. 

The Strikers loss came one day after they topped the East Bay Blazers by 7 wickets, handing the Blazers their first loss of the competition. In the chase, the 54 run opening partnership of Srinivas Raghavan (30 from 30) and 16 year old Rahul Jariwala (34 from 45) helped set the table for Narsingh Deonarine (47 from 29), Pranay Suri (15 from 11) and Shadley Van Schalkwyk, whose first ball six off of Josh Dascombe ended the game with four balls to spare.

Later that same day, Shivam Mishra’s 61 and Sanjay Krishnamurthi’s 42 paced the Blazers, and Josh Dascombe’s 3 wickets helped defend 153, as the 10 run win kept the Blazers alone at the top of the Bay Area standings.

You can follow the MiLC action live on YouTube

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