Tour Diary - Imran Khan, Team Manager of USA
The Florida town of Lauderhill hosted the Pepsi ICC Americas Division 1
Championship that included six sides. Defending champions and ODI rated
side Bermuda were hoping to make it a second straight victory, whilst
Canada another ODI side were favorites to take the title.
The Cayman Islands a regular in the Stanford 20/20 were supposed to be
the dark horses of the tournament and Argentina ranked higher than the
US could not be taken lightly. Only Suriname who made their debut in
ICC Americas were ranked lower than the US in the global ICC rankings.
Squad: Back Row -left to right: Clayton Lambert (Coach) Akeem Dodson
(W/K) Orlando Baker, Rashard Marshall, Timroy Allen, Robert Cresser,
Aditya Thyagarajan, Shaid Munir, Sudesh Dhaniram, Masood Chick (Physio)
Front Row- left to right: Carl Wright (W/K), Nasir Javed, Sushil
Nadkarni (V. Capt), Imran Khan (Manager), Steve Massiah (Capt), Imran
Awan, Lennox Cush
Thus, it was on the 25th of November 2008 on the artificial pitch
situated outside the Lauderhill stadium that the two lowest ranked
sides of the tournament battled head to head in the opening match.
Match 1: USA vs Suriname - The Butcher and the Pfeiffer
USA: S. Massiah, S. Nadkarni, C. Wright, R. Marshall, S. Dhaniram, A.
Thyagarajan, O. Baker, T. Allen, I. Awan, N. Javed, S. Munir
It was a mismatch of the greatest proportion as the merciless
US batsmen hammered the contemptible Suriname bowling attack into
complete annihilation. The batting was dominated by possibly one of the
most talented batsmen never to play senior international cricket.
Sushil Nadkarni butchered
the hapless Surinamese for 197.
The first of his back to back
Nadkarni epitomizes the archetypical butcher. He will pounce on
anything short, drive anything full and wait patiently for his moment
like a predator. He has the full repertoire of shots and the
temperament to match his skills. His overall total of 197 in only 132
balls although a phenomenal feat proved conversely to be a
heartbreaking score, as he would have become the first man to score 200
in a one day match and thus the 3 runs he failed to make was the only
real disappointment of the day.
The innings had begun in earnest but Carl 'Kung Kong' Wright
got out for 34 by slamming a long hop straight to cover. Rashard
Marshall was the next man in but only managed a solitary single before
edging Oemraw to the keeper Mohabir. This brought in the captain Steve
Massiah who was looking to open his and the team's account with a
resounding victory and put the disaster of Jersey behind them.
His stand of 159 with Sushil all but destroyed any hopes that
the detractors may have had at the fall of the second wicket and took
the score to 270 before getting out to a swinging Yorker from Goekal
for a stroke filled 62. Nadkarni continued to plunder the Surinam
attack and was supported by the graceful Dhaniram who made a run a ball
20. Nadkarni eventually fell three runs short of a double century when
he went hunting for a boundary and only managed to pull a short of a
length ball high to Dohkhie at square leg. His innings contained 9
sixes and 22 fours. The final score for the USA was an outstanding 365,
the tournaments highest team total.
In reply the Surinam batting order offered little, if any, resistance
to the raw US pace attack lead by Timroy Allen who took outstanding
figures of 5/7.
Timroy Allen returned
excellent figures of
Five for 7
The Suriname grand total was 60 of which 23 were extras! Thus of the
bat they scored only 37. It was a clinical performance from a side
placed in the 5rh division of the ICC league tables. Sushil Nadkarni
was deemed Man of the Match for his 197.
After the conclusion of the match, comments made by observers
and officials suggested that the US side may have more to offer than
was accredited to them before the onset of the tournament. USA had
proven itself to be a ruthless side that took no prisoners and offered
no hope to any opponent once they were in a position to dictate the
Match 2: USA vs Argentina - Nadkarni does it again
USA: S. Massiah, S. Nadkarni, C. Wright, R. Marshall, S.
Dhaniram, A. Thyagarajan, L. Cush, T. Allen, I. Awan, N. Javed, A.
The second day match against the Argentineans was supposed to
be a tricky affair as Argentina was ranked above the US and play in a
higher division of the World Cricket League.
The US decided to include Lennox Cush and Akeem Dodson the reserve keeper for this match-up and gave rest to Munir and Baker.
The match was played at the Brian Piccolo Park on a turf
wicket. Argentina won the toss and elected to bat first. A decision
they soon came to rue as Imran Awan accounted for Ferguson early and
wickets fell at regular intervals as all the bowlers cashed in on a
feeble Argentinean batting line up. Only the kiwi player coach Hamish
Barton stood strong to score an excellent 74. Awan and Javed took 2
wickets apiece and all the bowlers chipped in with wickets as Argentina
finished on 200/8 of their 50 Overs.
In reply it was if Nadkarni had scripted the whole play
himself. He came out and blasted 109 from only 106 balls with 12 fours
and 3 sixes to win the match in only 37 Overs by 7 wickets. He was well
supported by his opening partner Wright who scored 24, but for the
second successive match lost his concentration and gave his wicket away
when he had just got going.
Rashard Marshall again failed to go past the lonely single and
was slightly unlucky in being adjudged LBW. Thus the old timers Massiah
and Nadkarni joined together to cement a 95 run partnership that
effectively all but ended the contest. Massiah needlessly got out
towards the end but the writing was on the wall and Dhaniram and
Nadkarni ensured a second successive victory for a US side that was
increasingly getting sharper and more potent as the tournament
Nadkarni was named man of the match for his wonderful undefeated hundred.
Match 3: USA vs Bermuda - The Thanksgiving Massacre
USA: S. Massiah, S. Nadkarni, C. Wright, R. Marshall, S.
Dhaniram, A. Thyagarajan, O. Baker, L. Cush, I. Awan, N. Javed, S.
This was the first big match of the tournament and according
to many experts the US was going to be taught a real lesson and any
ideas of grandeur would be extinguished by the ODI rated side and world
cup campaigners Bermuda.
The match was once again played at the Brian Piccolo Park and
Bermuda won the toss but surprisingly elected to field. An indication
that no matter what the pundits felt the Bermudan dressing room was
rather apprehensive about this US side and thus took to defensive
maneuverings straight from the offset.
The US had brought back Baker and Dodson made way for the
swing bowler Munir.
The US started well and the first wicket partnership of 44 between
Wright and Nadkarni set the stage for a battle. However, Nadkarni
departed earlier than anticipated for 16 as he chased a wide half
volley and nicked it behind. Lennox Cush who had come in for Baker
joined Wright for a partnership of 40 that was slow in its momentum but
prevented any more losses up front.
However, within the space of 40 runs Cush (31), Wright (33)
and Massiah (17) all got out by trying to up the ante. The scorecard
began to reflect a rather meager effort thus far, 116 for 5 from 30
overs bowled. The Bermudans were now on top and their vocal supporters
made no effort to hide their glee.
However, what the US team banks on is the depth of their squad and in
particular their batting order. For the sixth wicket partnership
brought together a contrasting pairing in the rather subdued but
methodological Aditya Thyagarajan and the destructive yet explosive
Rashard Marshall. However, the formbook was against Marshall as he had
only scored 2 runs in two games and Aditya had spent less than an over
at the crease. Therefore, the US batting line would now be tested to
its fullest extent and the US motto of 'cometh of the hour; cometh of
the men' would finally come into fruition.
Aditya Thyagarajan after
completing an amazing
Marshall and Thyagarajan played cautiously to rebuild and when the time
came to party, boy! did they they let lose. Marshall in particular was
severe as he thrashed the Bermudan attack to all parts of the park. He
smashed an incredible 6 sixes and 3 fours in his whirlwind knock of 71
from only 59 balls. Thyagarajan who was cool, calculated and calm to
the finish dropped anchor and supported Marshall for a fine 42 that was
worth double its value. Both batsmen lost their wickets towards the end
but the damage had been done and the US had recovered and revived their
hopes of victory by posting an unbelievable final total of 260/7 of
their allocated 50 overs.
Rashard Marshall's 59
ball 71 changed the
whole tempo of
shell shocked Bermudans had watched the match slip away in the field
and when they came out to bat their fate was instantly made apparent as
they were reduced to 26/2. The US utilizing a strategic attack more
akin to their military, shocked and awed the Bermudans as Awan was let
loose on the top order. He bowled with pace, accuracy and consistency
to subdue the batters into avoiding his end and scraping for
non-existent singles. Eventually though Cann and Outridge survived the
initial burst and put on an 80 run partnership that seemed to offer
some form of resistance. However, the most impressive facet of this US
side as hammered into their psyche by coach Clayton Lambert is the
virtue of patience. Wait, be patient, anticipate the moment and then
pounce to finish of your opponents like a hunter.
The score was on a dangerous 109/2 from 30 overs when Cann
pulled a short of length ball to the square leg boundary and called
Outridge through for what seemed an easy single at the very least.
In a single moment Rashard Marshall summed up what this US
team was and is all about! Marshall sprinting to the ball picked up the
ball in a solitary motion and threw the ball a good 70 yards flat as a
whistle to knock down the single stump that would have been visible in
his line of sight! Sheer class, brilliance and the result of a drilled
set of skills as drummed into these men by Mr. Lambert.
The Bermudans were stunned and went from 109/2 to 129/5 before being
blown away by Awan (3/16) for a paltry 168. The US had secured its
third victory on the bounce and the holders had been thrashed beyond
It proved to be an ironic encounter as it was held on Thanksgiving Day
and thus some of the players dubbed the match 'The Thanksgiving
The tables had turned and the ranking system became a mockery, as reputations were buried in Florida by this rampant US side.
Match 4: USA vs Canada - Oldest Rivalry
USA: S. Massiah, S. Nadkarni, C. Wright, R. Marshall, S. Dhaniram, A.
Thyagarajan, O. Baker, L. Cush, I. Awan, N. Javed, S. Munir
On Saturday 29th November the Lauderhill Stadium built for the
2007 world cup played host to the oldest international rivalry in
international cricket. The US was finally allocated a match at the
stadium against the ODI outfit Canada. Both teams had recently toured
Guyana to take part in the WICB Presidents Cup and thus were familiar
with each other's form and style.
teams were coming into the match on a perfect winning streak but the US
held a slight psychological advantage as they had just beaten Bermuda
and thus a victory over the Canadians would almost guarantee the
It was a tense affair on a wonderful day for cricket. The
better team would no doubt decide the ultimate conclusion of the match
on the day but the playing conditions would be a factor. The outfield
seemed lush but slightly heavy and the wicket was clearly prepared to
deceive more by chance than design.
Steve Massiah won the toss for the US and elected to have a
bat first up. Umar Bhatti the Canadian skipper did not seem
disappointed as he was the opening bowler for his side and probably
fancied the stadium surface early in the morning.
The US innings began with some caution but disaster struck in
the third over of the day as the left arm Bhatti bowling at a brisk
pace nipped one delivery back into the left handed Nadkarni who had
decided to leave the ball and was bowled shouldering arms, 3/1 from
three Overs. The worst possible start for the US as the prolific
Nadkarni was back in the dresser before any significant play had
commenced. One down for the US was the Stanford 20/20 star Lennox Cush.
On arriving to the wicket he was greeted by the on-field umpires who
wanted to query the legitimacy of his bat.
As deliberation ensued and the matter seemed to have been
resolved and Cush geared up to face his first delivery and was
instantly rapped on the pads by Bhatti and the Canadian contingents
from fine leg, to square cover all went up in unison to ask the
question, beg for the decision and demand a result. As Cush stared in
disbelief, the umpire's finger rose high and handsome to send him back
as quickly as he had come. US were staring down a long barrel, 3/2 from
only three overs bowled.
A point was made to myself that a few of the officials from various
bodies that represent global cricket and the Americas region were seen
to be cheering and sniggering at the possibility of a US defeat. The
word used was possible and the opposite of that is impossible.
The US camp felt it impossible to lose no matter what the
circumstance as the squad was brimming with outstanding talent right
the way through. Clayton Lambert reminded his men that the wicket was a
slow low wicket that would not be conducive to large totals and
anything in excess of 150 would stand the US in good stead. How sound
this advice and analysis was would be proven true as the day unfolded
its drama and pursed the lips of those who laughed first.
Carl Wright having only faced a handful of deliveries was
joined by his captain and together they attempted a fight back by
utilizing the only form of defense they knew, attack. Massiah cut,
drove and looked to be edging towards an innings of some substance when
a low skidder from Osinde failed to gain any sort of height and hit
Massiah low on his pads and the umpire hesitated not to confirm
Osinde's appeal and leave the US at a precarious 38/3 from 10 overs.
Massiah had looked fairly set and had struck 4 boundaries in his 22 on
a difficult track, so his loss was crucial. However, the US batting
keeps going and going and Wright was now joined by Dhaniram who stood
for 10 overs and prevented the loss any further wickets.
With the score at a paltry 59, Dhaniram was the next victim
for 5 and the US looked in dire straits. The Canadians were now
ecstatic as they cheered on every ball and looked the ODI team that
they were supposed to be. However, the US team is built like a tactical
military unit that carries specialists, experts, men for all occasions
and situations. Aditya Thyagarajan the hero against Bermuda typifies
the US approach and was the ideal candidate to be tasked with the
proposition to see out the innings and shut out one end. He strode out
to join the lonesome Carl Wright and put on a 27 run partnership.
With the score on 86/5 Wright who had battled for his 40 runs,
almost half the team total attempted a flat bat pull only for the ball
to keep low and succeeded in dragging the ball onto his stumps. Rashard
Marshall was the next man in and lasted only 3 balls when he was
adjudged LBW. Marshall's luck had again failed him for the ball seemed
to clearly be missing a second set of stumps.
The score was 88/6 and the Canadians had the match in the bag.
The strange thing is that for all the noise and smirking remarks by
various aficionados the US camp was quietly confident as they knew that
walking in at number 8 was Orlando Baker, the regular US opener who had
some issues with his form and thus was placed lower down the order.
This day would be an ideal time for him to regain his form. The man is
a fighter and someone I would select before anyone on any day. He has
all the qualities that you require in a complete cricketer.
He possesses an excellent technique, has the experience and
the ability to excel in any facet of the game. His 105 run partnership
in 19 overs with Aditya Thyagarajan was possibly the best comeback
innings played by any pairing this year. Aditya played every ball on
merit, kept the scoreboard ticking over with smart singles, hard
running and effortless stroke play when required.
As his innings progressed he began to dominate the Canadian
attack and finished on a scintillating 84 not out from 99 deliveries
faced. While Orlando Baker complimented his partner with a rearguard
innings whereby he dropped anchor and rotated the strike to further
frustrate the Canadians into opening up spaces all over the field and
presenting more opportunities for quick runs. Eventually Baker was out
for an excellent 38 in the 49th over and the damage had been complete.
Aditya saw the innings out for a final score of 201 that would present
a momentous challenge for the Canadians. The wicket was getting slower
and lower and cracks had begun to appear.
The opening stand for Canada between Sandeep Jyoti and Asif
Mullah was a solid affair as they put on 44 run stand and edged Canada
towards the final total. The partnership was just getting troublesome
for Americans when Imran Awan who had bowled so magnificently both in
Guyana and the Americas championship managed to trap Mullah in front
for 18 and the US had the breakthrough that they so badly needed. The
US knew that they had the runs on the board and the Canadians would be
under pressure if wickets fell regularly. Enter then into the fray
Bowling at a slippery pace that batsmen can never get
completely comfortable against he began to swing and seam the ball to
magnificent effect. The seriousness of this match was reflected in the
measures that the Canadians took to prepare for this encounter. They
flew in their key player Ashish Bagai who was in London just for this
clash but that may have placed added and unnecessary pressure on him as
Baker uprooted his stumps and sent him back for a solitary single and
the score read 56/2 from 17 overs bowled.
As Baker found his rhythm he was ably assisted by the spinners
Cush (0/24), Dhaniram (1/10 from 10 overs) and Javed (1/14) who tied up
one end and let Baker blow steam at the other.
Orlando Baker man
of the match for a vital 39
and incredible bowling
spell of 5/31.
ripped through the Canadian top order and accounted for Sandeep, Ali,
Dhaniram (Sudesh Dhaniram's brother) and Chonanan in his 10 over stint
that effectively blew away any Canadian hope of recovery or serious
assault on the target. Baker finished with man of the match figures of
5/31 and proved why he was probably the best all rounder in the world
at this level of cricket. With the score at 108/8 the game was
effectively over and it was left to Imran Awan to cement victory by
tearing apart the tail and claiming fantastic figures of 3/14. The
Canadians were 120 all out and the US had won its second successive
game against an ODI side by 81 runs.
The US team had it seemed achieved the impossible and won 4
out of 4 to all but claim the Americas for the second time in their
history. However, the manner in which they achieved their feat is
unprecedented as they smashed all opposition they encountered and
proved that this US team was probably the best to ever play in the
Match 5: USA vs Caymans - Playing for a sweep
With the championship secured the US was playing for a perfect
record and a point to prove when they took on the Caymans at Brian
Piccolo Park. The other match that was being held at the stadium
between Bermuda and Canada was for all intents and purposes was
supposed to be the final but that projection had been written well out
of the script by Lamberts boys.
The Caymans play in the Stanford 20/20 cup and are thus
seasoned campaigners. However, they were up against a runaway train in
the US and the inevitable was only delayed due to the prolongations of
time and physics.
If anyone felt that this US team may ease off the gas and wallow in
their glorious achievements from the night before than they were in for
a grand surprise. This team has been built to win and focus on each
match as a battle for pride, reputation, glory and the ultimate prize
of becoming champions. The eye of the team has been channeled to see
only the prize and each run, ball and moment of the match is a step
closer to that goal.
Thus, on a blustery rain soaked morning the Caymans won the
toss and elected to field. The thinking one can only assume is that
they fancied bowling out the US on a damp wet wicket.
Sushil Nadkarni and Carl Wright obviously were not privy to the Cayman
strategy because they put on a record first wicket partnership of 194.
The Caymans attack was simply swept away like a Floridian hurricane.
Nadkarni and Wright bludgeoned the Cayman attack into the ground as the
beleaguered islanders mopped about in the field one could not help
sense that the tour was probably one match too many for them and the
sun and comforts of home were taking precedence over any cricket match
at this point.
From the US perspective Nadkarni fell 16 short of his third
century in 5 matches for 84 but had done enough to secure the
tournament, his accolade as the best bat and the MVP award for his
consistency and brutality on the hapless attacks that were presented
Carl 'Kung Kong' Wright
'Kung Kong' Wright more than any other player deserved a century and
the final day's play finally rewarded him with the three figures that
all the team prayed so hard for him to achieve. Carl is an effervescent
character, a one in a million find that one's imagination could not
even conjure. He is 100 percent a team man and a soldier for the cause.
However, what stands him apart from anyone else in the side is his
heart! He is brave, solid and stout. His courage and attitude is one
the major factors behind why this team has gelled and performed the way
is more akin to a warrior on the front line who charges into battle on
his own initiative and spirit. His mere presence is an inspiration and
at time one cannot be faulted for accusing him of getting bored when
the challenge is not up to his extremely high standard and danger. His
hundred was a fine knock that produced every stroke in the book and the
poor Cayman bowling fell victim to a man on a mission. Carl eventually
got out for 112 but could have a had a few more tons if he had been
At the fall of his wicket Massiah, Dhaniram and Marshall ensured that
the US posted a reasonably large total of 297 in only 49 overs due to
The Caymans were always up against it from the start and
detailing the innings would be a futile exercise that may bore more
than excite. Due to rain, wind and the US bowling attack the Caymans
had limped to a meager 65/5 from 25 overs when the match was called
off. Everyone thanked the Lord (including the Caymans I think!) for not
subjecting us to any more of this tedium in such harsh conditions.
The US had won all 5 matches and were now quite rightly crowned the kings of the Americas!
Capt. Massiah lifts the cup