Monday, September 26, 2011

Champs again! - A hatrick...

Cleveland Cricket Club wins the Midwest Cricket Tour Championship
The Midwest Cricket Tour (MCT) attracts about 32 teams from different parts of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. Games are played in league round-robin format with each game being 35-overs a side following ICC rules and regulations.

Starting this year, MCT has created two divisions (Division 1 and 2). Cleveland Cricket Club fielded two teams CCC Gladiators (Div 1) and CCC Warriors (Div 2). It was a grueling season for both the teams. The Warriors ended up topping their group, and reached the finals. They moved up to Division 1 for next year.

The chamionship game:

CCC Warriors faced University of Kentucky (UK) in the finals, played at Stubbs Park in Dayton, OH on Sept 18, 2011.

Warriors won the toss and chose to baT. Davinder Pandher (Goldy) and Suhail Hasham opened the batting. Goldy, as usual played some crisp shots but was caught behind soon. Mayank Mehta came in one-down, looked good but got a brilliant delivery to be caught behind. And soon Vignesh Palanivel, the man-of-match from the semis, was given out LBW. Warriors reduced to 40/3 in 12 overs. To make matters worse, Sujay Ithychanda, got runout, leaving Warriors in dire straits.

Suhail was joined by Rahul Sarnobat, and they knew they had their tasks cut out. Both played sensible cricket, rotating the strike and dispatching the odd-bad balls. Excellent footwork against spinners meant UK was running out of ideas to break the partnership. The scoreboard rolled and Warriors marched ahead to about 125.  

Just when it looked like Warriors would start the final onslaught, Suhail lost his wicket trying to clear the rope. Suhail played a solid innings of 51. Rahul then combined with Sunny Hira to get some quick runs before Rahul was caught out for an excellent 42. From there on Sunny, Deepak, Basu, Sundeep and Bala took Warriors to a respectable 169 leaving UK a target of 170 to score in 35 overs.

UK began the chase in an aggressive mode with their openers Vinod and Abhijeet taking them to about 55/0 in 12 overs. A great start by any means, especially in a final. Warriors were desperately searching for a break. That break came via a brilliant stumping by Bala off the bowling of Vignesh. That let Warriors into the door, and the spin trio (Vignesh, Sujay and Sunny) assisted by brilliant fielding, put the brakes on the scoring. The equation became run-a-ball (UK needed 60 to get in about 10 overs with about 5 wickets in hand). Warriors used all their experience and skill to tighten the grip and eventually UK fell short by 35 runs. Goldy, Basu and Rahul took great catches. Sujay ended up with fantastic figures of 5-17. All bowlers provided crucial support. Vignesh and Sunny got 2 wickets each. When the last wicket fell, Cleveland team erupted in joy for what has been a tremendous season.

Cleveland Cricket Club has for long been a promoter of cricket in this region. CCC won the Michigan League for the last two years. And this win at the MCT makes it a third championship for CCC in as many years.

sep 26-2011

The victorious Cleveland Warriors with the cup:
(From L->R): Mayank Mehta, Sujay Ithychanda, Sanket Shah, Sundeep Bhatia, Suhail Hasham, Riddhish Acharya, Deepak Maddha, Shubhayu Basu, Bala Cherukuri, Sunny Hira, Vignesh Palanivel, Rahul Sarnobat and Goldy (Davinder Pandher) with open arms! :)

(Not in pic but Warriors no less): Anand Nadar, Patrick Arjune, Rajan Gautam, Shiva Birdi, Sunil Raja, and Vishal Bhatia. Pic Courtesy: Shivaram Alluri

More Pictures:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Catching UP!!

Wow...its been a good 3 months or so that I have blogged. And these 3 months have been - to put it very simply - a roller-coaster of ride.

The last time I wrote something here was towards the end of round 1 of the MichCA league. Since then we have marched ahead and in style... winning the MichCA 2010! And the victory is even more meaningful as it was our second consecutive title. And nothing seems better than a repeat crown. It reassures your class and quality. It takes away any 'flukeness' that may have crept in some doubting thomases.

I had taken the responsibility to write up on our cricket team/club site and whatever little time I used to have to blog was consumed doing just that.

The reason it has also been very difficult to take out time is our daily work routine and add to that handling the well-being of parents back home... Mom has been unwell but improved. I pray she continues to improve and that we can spend more quality time with her as a family.

Cricket just seems to have been one good friend over the last 12 months (especially if you are a fan of Indian cricket)...sorry but can't say the same about Pakistan or for that matter Aussie fans out there. Man, what a tough time Pak cricket is going through. I can only wish and pray that they come out strong out of this as I do believe that there is only one thing that can help them - focus on the game and the game will take care of the rest. I feel really bad about the talent being wasted. And I am stunned with the news we got of Mohammed Amir getting involved. If there was one thing that was bringing back smiles - and some sort of comfort to a country that has been ravaged by fighting and the brutal flood - was this young guy and lo and behold he gets dragged into a mess. I am not close enough to all this to know exactly what goes on but whatever it is, the heartbreak of seeing such a talent being impacted by this is a shame, however you look at it. I wish and pray that we get to see the return of Pakistan cricket. The competitive spirit and the talent that country has needs to be restored. And for that I hope the players, the people associated and the powers be, work tirelessly to come out clean and give no chance for any finger to be raised. I wish to see that day soon.

Back to why Indian fans have had a blessed time - there are several reasons:
  • Sachin's unbelievable run festival,
  • Laxman inching towards glory. And (if not already) becoming a legend,
  • Youngsters in the Indian team stepping up.
All this has meant we saw some amazing test cricket and continue to rule as Numero Uno in world cricket. I feel that the upcoming test series with SA will be another classic litmus test. Can't wait for that. And ofcourse I back my nation. Watch out SA.... and I am saying so, mindful of the SA wickets, as I think the lineup we have now has seen it all.. So just beware SA.

On a personal/cricket front, we had a gratifying 2010 season. And had some of the best times as a team. We dominated the final rounds at MichCA, although the games were all tricky. But the Final was a thoroughly professional performance.  What was so endearing of our efforts was that we looked and played like a champ. Yes we did lost couple of games that we could have played better in but overall the season was by far my most satisfying and enjoyable.
Cleveland - Micha Champion 2010

I congratulate Viggy - for picking up the captaincy this year and doing a terriffic job of keeping us on the right track. He led from the front and always cared to ensure that the team mates are having a good time as well as we are progressing towards the goal. A silent crusader, he did show signs of aggression when needed. Apart from that all the other team mates stepped up and helped each other. Goldy had a tough year but he tried to make best use of the learning experience. I am sure he will come back strong.

Another thing that needs to get acknowledged and we all do so is that a winning team does not happen overnight or over one year, it takes some years of playing together to get the combination right. And for that, Ani (the previous captain) has played a big role. I wish he was playing with us in the final, he would have been really proud. But he did keep ball-by-ball contact with us even from India in the wee hours there.

Apart from Ani, the club seniors and alumni need to take a bow and I am sure they are proud as we have now shown twice in a row that some things do get done and get done right when hard work and support is there.

I need to run now but I will keep this space update more - hopefully. :)


Monday, August 2, 2010

end of round 1

Life has been real busy over the past several weeks keeping me away from cricket greens. I could not participate in the past couple of games - one against Canton and the other against Troy (a rescheduled game). The results were odd… an extraordinary game with a sweet result against Canton but the other an ordinary performance from our collected 11 that resulted in a loss.

On July 17, we played and won against Canton. They have played great cricket this season and are certainly the top 2 teams to beat. I safely would have said ours would be the other but since I am writing this – kind of post cast :) - I know that we cannot claim, any longer to be the top 2 teams to beat. I will spell what I mean in a minute.

But back to the game against Canton, the one guy they probably hate the most now is Devin Patel, for this is the second time in a row he scored a century against them! It’s a punishing feeling to be the best team but to be sought out by the same guy. Devin's brilliant century (114*) along with solid performances from Sujay (60+), Puru (51*) and Chirag (30) left Canton to chase 295. It’s a really tough ask and they folded at 242 after giving an equally tough fight.

Next we played Troy on July 25 with a depleted side as most of our guys were not playing including me. We scored 181 and they got that with 4 wickets left. Our bowlers, I heard, struggled to find the rhythm.

Anyways, with that game, we completed our 1st round. 8 games – won 6, lost 2. But more importantly I see somewhat of degradation in our performance going into the next round.

=suhail =
July 2010

the first loss!

It’s terrible. The pain of a loss lingers mentally longer than the physical aches. It is more personally agonizing when you can’t forget that you could have played a part in getting the team out of the woods. And there on, each passing moment, you want to get back out there and make amends. That is the beauty of the game of cricket. You always feel you can do better.

On Saturday, July 10, 2010, we hosted Metro Detroit CC at our home ground in Cleveland.

MDCC is a new team this year. And they certainly were playing for the first time at our ground. But if you watched them in action or review the scorecard, they played at ease with us and played a solid game.

Winning the toss, they batted first and scored 210 in 40 overs. An assured 130 plus run 3rd wicket partnership between Kumar and Nadeem was the underpinning act behind their above par score. Kumar went on to get a deserved century. He had luck on his side too, getting a couple of good lives. But their ‘chanderpaul-stance’ left handed captain Nadeem () played a calm and composed inning to anchor them along. We had a target of 211 to get but ended up getting all out for 165!

What caused the break to our winning ‘habit’?
To sum it up - We looked lazy on the field. Bowlers lacked purpose and failed to find that one delivery that could break a partnership and when our bowlers did find a way, our fielding did not finish it. We looked less hungry to win than MDCC. And it would be safe to say we may have been over-confident when we batted.

So we were below our standards in all aspects and MDCC thoroughly deserved to win.

I know it’s better said than done but I will still say it….barring a few good testing slower ones, our bowlers did not show any attempt to mix it up. We could not adjust quickly to the left-right combination and kept feeding into the width areas preferred by the batsmen (especially Kumar).

One glaring problem I see is that our bowlers are not bowling to the fields they themselves set. We need to be more mindful and do justice to the fields. Another thing is bowlers are not working together. So to say, they are not ‘hunting in a pack’. Every time a new spell begins, the bowlers put in several useless deliveries slicing away any pressure that may have been built by the peer bowlers. That cannot happen, especially in the games going forward. So the sooner the bowlers get this right, the better. I am sure each of the bowlers would like to put this game into perspective and come up with way to perform better.



Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wrapping Grand Rapids..

I got news that, on June 26, we will be playing ‘hosts’ to Grand Rapids on a ‘new’ cricket ground in Canton. Anytime you are driving to a new field or to a field that you have never played cricket on, there is a sense of excitement and happiness that the game you love most is spreading and growing.

Then when you drive around a park – it was called the Heritage Park - with umpteen fields – baseball, soccer, basketball etc – it makes you even more eager. As you drive around this park you come to a crowded parking lot. The anticipation grows. The lush green ageless tall trees provide even more encouragement and build up. You park and begin a brisk walk through the walking trail, eager to see it – the cricket field..

As you mound your way up and close to the cricketing ‘area’, suddenly all that excitement and joy comes to a grinding halt and converts to sheer disappointment. This is just sad. All the promising 15 minutes fade and it is sad to see that a small piece of land is allocated to cricket, with no decent room for boundary. If something is better than nothing then yes it is something. But I wish cricket was given some importance. I am sure the people involved in putting this place together may have tried their best and succeeded to whatever they could land their hand on. So not taking anything away from the folks who put this ground up to play but I wish there was more room and justice for cricket in such a setting...

Well, enough about the ground, and game should go on... Due to bad weather and delayed start, it was a reduced 35-over game.

We batted first and opened with a new pair – Chirag and Suraj. Unfortunately, Suraj did not last long. Pratik walked in one-down for his first game of the season with us. He is a vital cog in our wheel and the conditions seemed ideal for him to get his eye in. He played a nice chip over the midwicket in his cool and casual style but unfortunately could not time another loft well and holed out. Bad blow for the team and more so for Pratik but I am sure he will be eager to harvest some time and runs come next game.

Viggy joined Chirag for what ended up being a trailblazing partnership. Chirag played freely from the get go, with clean hits over long on, midwicket and straight down the ground. Viggy had bat and timing issues to deal with initially but eventually set into his usual self with an elegant and assuring knock.

Cleveland was cruising consistently at a rate of above 7 an over. Chirag fell after a well-made 67. And Manu was promoted so we can silence him up :)…. But he came back soon cramped up for room to play his shot. Navdeep went in and played sensibly picking his shots and spots.

At 140 odd in about 20 overs, we were eyeing a huge score as we still had about 15 overs and 6 wickets in hand. Viggy along with Navdeep kept up the scoring and we were 180 odd in 27 overs. Viggy fell after a good 60 runs. I went in to join Navdeep and we continued to keep the score board busy. But Navdeep was stumped out for 20.

Chandu walked in and we knew it could be his day as it’s been long time coming. With the conditions ideal for his kind of hitting, he played out some balls and he and I rotated well for 15 odd runs. But I was needlessly run-out attempting a risky one. I drove to long-off and was running to the danger end but didn’t realize Chandu had not taken off. And by the time our calls matched up I had come too far down the track and could not return. But Chandu continued on and we sensed something big was in the making.

....[chandu pic here]..

With 6 or so overs remaining and 7 wickets down, usually the bowlers think they have had already faced tackled all the batsmen and they are eager to wrap up the overs. And in comes Chandu and shocks them out of their socks. He pasted the bowlers to all sides specially the long on, midwicket fence. And they had no answer. When big-hitters get going field setting or size does not matter and that’s exactly what we saw. In a matter of 20 odd balls Chandu passed his half century with awesome strikes and running :) and our score touched 258 in 35 overs.

Chasing 258 in 35 overs is tough on any day. It becomes even tougher when you have been drilled to all parts of the ground. The Grand Rapid openers looked good to begin with and played some good shots but our opening bowlers Manu and Deepak didn’t allow too much room, especially Manu bowling his accurate line and length. And once we got the initial breakthrough there was no looking back. We kept getting wickets at regular intervals. And with rain in the forecast, our slow blowers (Ishant, Murali, and Viggy) operated most of the starting 18 overs to ensure game is on.

All the bowlers bowled well with some being unlucky not to get more wickets. But overall it was a good performance. I kept wickets with new Kookaburra Neon gloves  and new pads. Did get a simple catch behind the stumps but need to improve on leg side collection. Hopefully it will improve after the Soccer World Cup when I stop seeing goal-keepers.

Grand Rapids was wrapped up in 23 overs for 105.

Post-game, I overheard the Grand Rapids captain talking highly of certain Canton players and their stats and that we need to watch out etc but honestly we treat every team with dignity per merit on any given day and play every game with equal seriousness. Unfortunately this season and humbly speaking with no disrespect to any team, we have not faced a stiff competitor yet this season. Of course every game presents some challenges and we are not bigger than the game but I must admit we have not come across a team that looked threatening enough to blow us off. And we eagerly look forward to playing against Canton.

But before that game we have a game against Metro Detroit CC at Cleveland on July 10 and we look forward to that encounter and make no mistake we are in no mood to give up the winning habit.



Wednesday, June 9, 2010


So, finally Yuvi is rested and Sachin asked to be rested :)...
Squad: MS Dhoni (capt & wk), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Praveen Kumar, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Pragyan Ojha, Ashok Dinda, R Ashwin, Saurabh Tiwary.

Team India for the Asia Cup, looks good. I don't necessarily think Tiwary  is ready for it but no harm in trying. It just seems that now a days its become much more easier for players to get into the India team. The Gambhir's and the Sehwag's had to struggle (in my view) more than the like of Tiwary, Ashwin. I may be wrong but it just seems that they are getting picked as they are performing somewhat well in the Ranji and then IPL gives them the extra boost or attention. This extra boost was not available when say Gmbhir or Sehwag were making their attempts. I wont even go towards outside India (meaning one Mr Cricket - Mike Hussey scored 10000 first class runs prior to getting into Team Australia :).... Having said that, I dont see why we need to fuss about it, its the sign of changing times. So be it.

Coming back to the team :), Rohit, Raina and Kohli have the chance to show who emerges out of the shadows. I think 2 of these will be certain to play in the World Cup. All 3 is possible but its upto them.

People have said that Uthappa should be in the team. I dont think he fits in. I think he is an excellent player at T20 level. I am eager to see how Ashwin evolves. I hope the 'allrounder' seekers dont punish by using that tag or expecting him to be that. He can be one but only results should drive that. In the recent past we have lost couple of good players due to the hype that they are allrounders - Irfan Pathan is a case in point. Its a shame we lost him. Coz he certainly began well as a bowler who could bat but now his bowling is mediocore and we cannot afford to pick him for his batting.

 Coming to Yuvi, I think the selectors dd the right thing by dropping Yuvi. Having seen the talent he possesses, its only his fitness (physical and mental) that needs adjustments. And if he gets those adjustments done, he can resume/fully blossom in his career. I think we will get to see him more. I believe in talent. As far as his off-cricket activities, I dont really care what he does and where he goes. So long as he performs for the country on the cricket ground.

The media coverage of any cricketers' non-cricket life is ridiculous and simple annoying. The news outlets are destroying our country's sportsmen. I wish these media houses take up that time slots to cover up and coming athletes, sponsor the time to showcase new talent that can some day win our country some medals in Olympics. No, I guess that is a 'waste' of thier time, they would rather show Sreesanth walking the ramp or Yuvi dancing at a party. Or Dhoni eating an aalo-chat.


Game 4 Rained out

The much awaited Game 4 on Sunday (June 6) against 6-time champs Greater Detroit Cricket Club was washed out due to heavy rains and tornadoes that struck parts of Michigan, Illinois and Ohio. This game most likely will be replayed at a later date this season. Looking forward to that encounter. Update - this game has beeen called as a 'draw'. and the points have been split. Nevertheless - look forward to play GDCC hopefully in the next round.

GDCC is always fun to play, primarily due to them being a strong team but also since they are very passionate bunch of cricketers. People like Shahid Ahmed, Faisal and others who have done so much for the cricket in this region play in that team, so its always a good time in the middle. Thr fun is even more as we have beaten them :), albiet closely, every time we have played them (twice so far).... So GDCC will be coming strong at us and also they have been there where we are now and I am sure they would like to regain that spot. So can't wait to play them.

Next weekend  (June 12/13) we have a bye. So no game.Sometime its good to grt that break but this season has so far turned out to be a slow one, especially the weather has been quite erratic, and we are also loosing practice sessions due to the rain. If not weather then maybe its Sujay (practice coordinator) or maybe its Viggy (skipper) ....:). Kuch karo yaar, we need mroe cricket.

Pratik - I am not sure what you are upto, maybe 'inventing' something special... :)?
Chandu - yes you are correct, my scores this season have been due to your bat. You know some one has to do it. Since you were mostly hitting the air with it I thought I will put it to better use :)... But seriosly, thank you.