USA name ODI squad for Namibia, 5 changes

Shayan Jahangir of the Lone Star Athletics looks for a run. (photo: Peter Della Penna)

USA named 14 to their senior Men’s team squad on Tuesday, ahead of their upcoming Cricket World Cup League Two tour of Namibia. 

Tuesday’s announcement features five changes from September’s disappointing tour of PNG, as USA hope to turn around poor form which has resulted in two victories from their prior eight ODI matches, with four losses, one draw and another abandoned. 

The most notable exclusion is Jaskaran Malhotra, who has scored 250 of his 429 ODI runs against Papua New Guinea, a team which USA will face twice on the upcoming tour. On September 9, 2021, Malhotra scored 173 of those runs, the highest for a number five in ODI history, in a game in which Malhotra also famously blasted six sixes in one over. Malhotra’s 261 ODI runs in six ODI innings in 2021 came at an average of 87 and a strike rate of 104.4, as the former opener embraced a new role in the middle order.

The calendar year of 2022 has been a different story for the talented former USA wicket keeper, with just 116 runs across seven innings at an average of 19.33 and one half century, though he did take two wickets in 10 overs of limited use as a bowler at an economy of 4.30.

Also omitted from the previous team are fast bowler Kyle Phillip, and 2021 USA U19 members Saiteja Mukammalla, Rahul Jariwala, and Yasir Mohammad.

Kyle Phillip appeared in only one game in Papua New Guinea (9 overs, 54 runs), going wicketless in a loss to Namibia in Port Mosby on September 17. Phillip’s only other USA ODI chances came the previous September, wicketless in a loss to Oman, and taking three wickets in a victory over Nepal, both in Al Amerat. The tall fast bowler took 14 wickets in 38 overs during the 2022 Minor League Cricket season, playing on mostly batting friendly grounds while leading the attack for the Atlanta Lightning.

Sai Mukkamalla has batted in eight ODI innings for USA since his debut in May against Scotland, falling just four runs shy of a maiden half century against PNG in Port Moseby in September. The teenaged top order batter averaged 18.75 at a 62.76 strike rate, but should push regularly for a place back in the team, considering his poise, talent, and regular domestic success.

Also 18 years of age, wicketkeeper batsman Rahul Jariwala featured in four ODI. His 14 runs on debut against UAE in Pearland, Texas remained his high score, as the Silicon Valley Strikers opener struggled at numbers 6 and 7 Internationally. Jariwala failed to find the form that carried him through the 2021 USA Men’s National 50 Overs Championships, where he led the competition in runs with 251, and had the second highest strike rate (114.61) of any batter with at least 100 runs. 

Legbreak bowler Yasir Mohammad, 20 years old, received chances in three matches for USA in Pearland in June, taking three wickets in 18 total overs at an economy of 6.27. Though selected for the 14 man team which traveled to PNG in September, Yasir received no chances during the tour. Featuring as an all rounder in Minor League Cricket with the Manhattan Yorkers in the batting-heavy East Division, Yasir improved his batting in 2022, with 103 runs in five innings, including a maiden Minor League Cricket half century.

In their places, USA selectors have named debutants Shayan Jahangir and Saideep Ganesh, recent USA regulars Sushant Modani and Ian Holland, and Usman Rafiq, who last represented USA Cricket at the Super 50 in February of 2018. 

Rafiq, who tragically lost his young wife to cancer in February, had a stellar Minor League Cricket season in 2022. The Houston Hurricanes captain took 23 wickets with his right arm offbreak bowling at only 6.15 runs per over, and scored 191 runs at a strike rate of 153 in a closer’s role with the bat.

“It was for sure not easy to go through what life had thrown me over the last couple of years,” Rafiq told Emerging Cricket. “I kept myself grounded and very hopeful with this life, because nothing happens without any reason. Now that I am back with USA again, it shows what being patient in life gets you. I wish and pray to do well for my team and make everyone who has supported me throughout my journey very proud.” 

Wicketkeeper batsman Shayan Jahangir once represented Pakistan at the U19 level, but moved to the USA with his wife in 2017. Jahangir was selected with an ICC Americas slot for the Barbados Tridents in 2020, and appeared in one game without batting. In 2022, Jahangir was one of the most consistent big performers in Minor League Cricket, scoring 507 runs at a strike rate of 134.48 while averaging 42.25 for Lone Star Athletics. 

Though it has been a goal for Jahangir to represent USA at the international level, the young family man is taking it all in stride. “The excitement around the game stays the same for me in general, no matter what uniform I have on,” Jahangir told Emerging Cricket. “I’m forever grateful that I’m able to play this game at a high level. Having said that, it is humbling for me for sure getting the call and getting an opportunity to be a part of an International team, and I’m happy to be at this point today.”

Jahangir’s rise in the domestic scene has coincided nicely with the emergence of Minor League Cricket. “MiLC and the competition it brings, i would say, has been a game changer in American cricket. For me personally, it’s been great in terms of working my game out, putting in big numbers, and as you can see, it has gotten me my maiden ODI call up.” 

Both Jahangir and Rafiq were recognized by Minor League Cricket for their stellar seasons by being named to the 2022 MiLC Domestic Team of the Tournament. 

Shayan Jahangir, Usman Rafiq, and Saideep Ganesh each made the 2022 MiLC Domestic Team.

Saideep Ganesh not only had an excellent 2022 MiLC season, but he finished the 2022 Altius NSL 50 overs league as the fifth leading run scorer with 179 runs at an average of 29.83 and a strike rate of 90.86. Considered Major League Cricket’s first 50 overs league, the Altius NSL was composed of four bay area teams, and featured top MiLC Performers such as Sami Aslam, Unmukt Chand, Hammad Azam, David White, and Shehan Jayasuriya. 

Ganesh’s move from the Golden State Grizzlies to the East Bay Blazers in 2022 paid off in spades, as the young top order batter’s 402 MiLC runs at a 136.27 strike rate and an average of 30.92 earned him recognition in both the Domestic and U21 teams of the tournament.

“Those two leagues (Altius and MiLC), especially Minor League Cricket, are stepping stones and the current pathway to make the national team,” Ganesh told Emerging Cricket. “I had a long off season in Australia, playing grade cricket and training at the Joe Root Academy for three months to prepare for the Minor League and summer of cricket in the USA.”

Inclusion in the national team is a major validation of the young batsman’s choices. “This means a lot to me and my family. It was the biggest reason behind moving to California. This has been a goal of mine for a long time, and after last year where I hurt my knee right before the start of the Minor League season and had to get surgery, it means a lot to have come back from that. I’m grateful to my coaches, parents and God to have this opportunity.” 

Ian Holland rejoins the USA squad after missing out of September’s tour while on contract with Hampshire in the first division of England’s County Championship. The Wisconsin born all rounder last played for the red white and blue in their win against Scotland on August 17, and has appeared in 11 ODI matches for USA with a batting average of 27.81 and a bowling average of 29.54.

Visa issue kept Sushant Modani from traveling with USA in September, and USA clearly missed his batting. Modani’s 498 runs in 16 innings at an average of 31.12 are good enough to put him fourth all time in ODI runs for USA. November’s tour of Namibia will be his first One Day action in Africa. 

Games will be held at the Wanderers Cricket Ground with 9:30am local start time (3:30am EST/12:30am PT). 

Schedule – 

Sunday 20th November USA vs Namibia

Tuesday 22nd November USA vs Papua New Guinea

Friday 25th November USA vs Papua New Guinea

Saturday 26th November USA vs Namibia

USA Squad-

Monank Patel (Captain)

Aaron Jones (Vice-Captain)

Cameron Stevenson

Gajanand Singh

Ian Holland

Jasdeep Singh

Nisarg Patel

Noshtush Kenjige

Saideep Ganesh

Saurabh Netravalkar

Shayan Jahangir

Steven Taylor

Sushant Modani

Usman Rafiq

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