Further growth in the women’s game was evident over the Independence long weekend with the first USA Cricket Women’s Regional Championships (Eastern) being held at Church St Cricket Ground, Morrisville. This tournament followed on from the successful Intraregional Championships in the next step of the newly developed Women & girls domestic pathway.
Two teams, representing the East & Central regions, competed over the weekend in 2 x 50 over games & one T20 game. A torrential storm on the eve of the tournament saw the first T20 washed out on Friday but thanks to some unbelievable work from ground staff, the 50 over game went ahead on Day 2 with nothing but perfect cricket conditions for the rest of the three days at the beautiful setting in North Carolina.
The first 50 over game saw a low scoring affair with batting teams struggling on a slow pitch after the rain with East winning the toss and electing to bat first. 14 year old Taranum Chopra showed some resistance and maturity at the top of the order scoring 15 before being stumped off the bowling of Bhumika Bhadriraju. Captain Lisa Ramjit and former Pakistani International Nain Abidi put together a 44 run partnership before Bhadriraju again struck by bowling Abidi to starta huge collapse, with the East Region losing 7 wickets for 10 runs. Bhumika Bhadriraju went on to claim 5 for 5 from 5.1 overs and was the player of the match. Aafia Khazi also picked up 3 for 15 from her 5 overs.
With only 108 to chase, Central found themselves 43 for 4 in the 21st over before the experience of current Team USA player Nadia Gruny got her team over the line in the 42nd over. Gruny finished on 34 not out.
Sunday saw the presence of local dignitaries & VIP guests for the 4th of July celebration, which clearly inspired the teams for their second 50 over game with both teams having been able to reflect on their performances overnight. Mayor TJ Cawley & Morrisville Cardinals Owner Sunil Buttalla oversaw the toss with Central winning and choosing to bowl first again to take advantage of anything that may be in the pitch early. After the loss of an early wicket, Candacy Atkins-Martin & Nain Abidi stabilised the innings for East with a 41 run partnership before Atkins-Martin was sensationally bowled by local teenager and current Team USA player Geetika Kodali (2 for 25 off 10). A couple of starts from Onika Wallerson (16), Taranum Chopra (19), Disha Dingra (16) & Moksha Chaudary (13) saw East complete their 50 overs with a total of 163 for 8 with Aafia Khazi the pick of the bowlers for Central claiming 3 for 12 from 6 overs.
Requiring just more 3 an over to chase down Easts’ total, Central got off to the worst start possible with young left handed opening bat Jessica Willanthgamuwa being run out without facing a ball. Despite this setback Central stabilised through opening bat Saba Shah (24) and ‘keeper Mithali Patwarden (28) putting on a 60 run partnership. Captain Shebani Bhaskar, combined with Geetika Kodali, for a Player of the Match performance by being 55 not out at the end of play with Kodali also unbeaten on 15.
In a change of tactics and a change of format, East won the toss and elected to bowl on the final day of the series. It paid dividends immediately with Nadia Gruny moving up the order and promptly having her middle stump removed fourth ball by USA team mate Onika Wallerson. Central were unable to recover and lost wickets consistently with Jessica Willanthgamuwa the only resistance finishing on 29 not out off 38 balls. Wickets were again shared around the team with the pick of the bowlers for East being Wallerson (2 for 9 off 4 overs) and Ramjit (2 for 1 off 2 overs).
East’s innings saw the big hitting wicketkeeper in Melanie Henry promoted to open the batting in her favoured format of T20 cricket. Henry was dismissed for 25 (24 balls) but got the East off to the start they had hoped for after two losses from two games so far over the weekend. Henry was ably supported by Disha Dingra (22) who was dismissed in the 17th over when it looked fairly safe that East should romp home. East lost 4 wickets for 3 runs trying to chase down the low total of 83, through some magnificent bowling from Kodali (2 for 7 from 3 overs) and the miserly Janani Suthan who went for just 8 runs from her 4 overs. Then enter Holly Charles for the East who hit the second ball she faced for an enormous six off the bowling of left handed Jessica Willathgamuwa. Some great bowling from Willathgamuwa got the game to the last ball to see Anika Kumar scramble for the required single to avoid the super over and give her team their first win for the weekend in a thrilling finish to round out three highly entertaining days of cricket.
3-2-1 votes each game were awarded by both coaches & the umpires for the Player of the Tournament Award. Congratulations to those players below after some outstanding performances.
1st=: Shebani Bhaskar Central 9 points
1st=: Bhumika Bhadriraju Central 9 points
3rd: Melanie Henry East 8 points
Other vote getters: Geetika Kodali (Central), Taranum Chopra (East), Jessica Willathgamuwa (Central), Nadia Gruny (Central), Onika Wallerson (East), Disha Dingra (East), Lisa Ramjit (East), Nain Abidi (East)
Following the USA
Cricket Women’s Regional Series, an Eastern Conference team will be selected for the upcoming Women’s National Championships to be held in Fort Lauderdale from 3-8 August 2021, which will be followed by the USA Cricket Under 19 Women’s National Championships at the same venue from August 11-13. This team will play against the Western Conference which will be selected after the USA Cricket Women’s Regional Series (Western) to be played in Houston, Texas from the 15-18 July at Prairie View Cricket Grounds.
USA Cricket wishes to express its appreciation and thanks to everyone involved in the event in Morrisville over the weekend, with huge efforts from groundstaff, volunteers, the live-streaming team, media, local leagues and many more to help make the event such a success.