By Yash Khandor – March 2018, 201
After rain played spoilsport to deny them a historic win in their debut T20i and a disappointing loss in the 2nd T20i against the UAE, USA Cricket team started the ODI series with a convincing win as they beat UAE by 5 wickets with 15 balls to spare in the first of the 7-match ODI stint in UAE!
USA Captain Saurabh Netravalkar lost the toss third time in a row and UAE were blessed to bat first in perfect batting conditions. Netravalkar opened the bowling with Jessy Singh (Ali Khan was rested – still recovering from back spasms) and they kept the scoreboard in check as UAE steadied to 34 in 9 overs. Steven Taylor was then employed within the Powerplay and he did not disappoint. He cleaned up Chirag Suri in the 10th over of the game and ended with inspiring figures of 10 overs 2 maidens 38 runs and 4 wickets. UAE got off to agreta start with Rohan Mustafa continuing his good form scoring 47 while the number four Rameez Shahzad notched up a fifty to take UAE to 134 for 4 in 34 overs.
The stage was set for the middle and lower-middle order to explode and take UAE to a total past 250. But USA bowlers had other ideas. Saurabh Netravalkar and Roy Silva took 2 wicket each to clean up the lower middle order and the tail, while Nosthush Kenjige kept it very tight in the middle overs bowling a miserly spell giving away only 44 runs in his 10 overs and getting the scalp of Muhammad Usman. UAE faltered from 188 for 5 to 290 all out and never took off to build on a good start setting USA a target of 210 in 50 overs.
Chasing just over 4-runs an over, USA got off a to a vigilant start just like the UAE. However, they lost opener Monank Patel and star batsman Steven Taylor early and were in a precarious position at 34 for 2 in 9.1 overs. Things could have gone either way at that point but Aaron Mac Jones had other ideas. He came together with Xavier Marshall (58 off 86 balls) to string together an important partnership of 52 balls before Marshall fell to the leggie Imran Haider. In came vice-captain Jaskaran Malhotra and along with Jones they took USA to 148 before Malhotra was run out. Needing another 62 to win in 70 balls, USA needed the well set Jones to drive them home with his Barbados partner Hayden Walsjh Jr. And that’s exactly what transpired and USA won with 15 balls to spare, 5 wickets in the bag and a responsible 81* by man-of-the-match Jones. Jannisar Khan was back in the playing XI (after missing the T20s serving a 2-match ban) and finished with 11* off 7 balls as he hit the winning runs (as per USA Cricket report).
This was a very promising win for USA and in context of their preparations for the upcoming Division two in Namibia next month, the win is a lot more than just a “W” for the record books. Not only does it instill confidence, it also sends out a strong message to the opponents that there are folks here wanting to come out and win, not just show up and play!
Also, it gives the team management a right frame of mind going ahead in this ODI stint in the UAE as they would try and experiment with their combinations to get their best XI for the WCL Division Two.
Hopefully this is just the beginning of many wins to come for team USA and the next 50-over game against the English County side Lancashire would be a great test.
Full scorecard here: (courtesy: USA Cricket)
Picture Courtesy: USA Cricket (usacricket.org)