Playing without four key players due to COVID-19 protocol, USA have defeated Ireland by 26 runs to claim their first international win against a full member.
Batting first, the home team recovered from 16 runs for four wickets in the fifth over, to an impressive 188/6, thanks to 154 runs off the bats of their five, six and seven batters. In fact, no team has scored more runs after four wickets down (171) in T20i history than USA did today.
Ireland’s Barry McCarthy started the first innings red hot, taking out USA Captain Monank Patel and Xavier Marshall before the end of the third over. Simi Singh followed in the fourth against teenager Ritwik Behera, out for a duck, leg before wicket. McCarthy struck again in the fifth, as Ryan Scott flicked an over-pitched ball at his legs directly to the deep point fielder to put USA at 16/4.
The innings appeared doomed for USA, with Ireland destined to chase a low target on a shiny, flat track, but Gajanand Singh and Sushant Modani had different plans. Slowly and steadily the lefty/righty partnership built, as projected totals grew along with hope. 120 went from a prayer to a certainty, to “maybe they can score 150 and make a game out of this.” Ten overs after the Ryan Scott Wicket, USA were flying, and 170 seemed in reach.
By the time Gajanand Singh was caught by Ben White for 65 in the 16th, his 110 run partnership with Modani was the second best 5th wicket partnership ever in T20i history. Eleven overs earlier, USA fans would have probably taken 126 runs for the innings. With 25 balls left, and Men’s National Championships standouts Marty Kain and Sushant Modani (another lefty/righty pair) now in the middle with momentum on their side, a big score seemed likely.
Blasting another 66 runs from those final 25 balls, Kain (39 for 15) and Modani (50 from 39) completed the comeback, and USA looked to be favorites to defend and win.
Ireland got off to a fast start in the chase, and looked threatening in spite of Andrew Balbirnie’s early wicket, lost to Ali Khan in the second. With the dangerous Paul Stirling flying at 31 from his first 14 in the fifth over, Saurabh Netravalkar delivered a peach aimed at the top of middle stump, and Stirlo swung across and over the ball and was bowled clean.
Lorcan Tucker (57 from 49) built threatening partnerships with Curtis Campher (17 from 15) and Shane Getkate (19 from 13), but Monank Patel turned to reliable Nisarg Patel and bowled through Saurabh Netravalkar’s quota in the middle overs, in order to stomp out the spark before it spread.
At the end of 15 overs, Ireland were 117/5, compared to USA’s 116/4 at the same point. With Saurabh, Kain and Nisarg spent, and Ireland’s most realistic threats quashed, the innings would need to be closed out by Ali Khan and 19 year old Yasir Mohammad. While the game looked like it was in the bag for USA from an analytical point of view, USA would still have to rely on a young leg spinner on debut who had been removed from the attack after a 12 run sixth over.
“I had a rough start, but i think it was a great call by the skipper to give me a little break to think about my over and what mistake I was making,” Yasir Mohammad told Emerging Cricket. “I was mentally prepared to bowl again, and it worked out well.”
“I felt really excited and mostly honored to be selected, especially coming in making my debut. I came in knowing I just needed to give it my best, and although I could have been better, it went pretty well.”
After a 16th over that conceded only six runs, Yasir showed he was settled, and USA coasted to victory from there.
Yasir’s fellow USA U19 and Atlantic Zone teammate, Ritwik Behera, added two key catches, as USA Cricket continue a youth trend begun by the Women’s setup this past summer.
Ireland and USA will rematch on December 23rd at 7pm EST.
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