Nadkarni determined to lead the USA from the front

ICC Media Realiase
Mon, Mar 5, 2012 12:37 PM

In the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier UAE 2010, the United States of America (USA) was in the limelight due to its first-ever meeting Afghanistan on a sports field.

In this month's ICC World Twenty20 UAE 2012, all eyes will be on it as it will be led for the first time by 35-year-old Sushil Nadkarni - an attacking top order batsman who in the mid-90s was considered as one of India's most talented and brightest cricketers.

In the 1994-95 season, Nadkarni averaged just under 100 with three centuries and as many half-centuries which earned him a place in the India U19 squad on the 1995-96 tour to Australia where in two Tests, he scored 120 runs at an average of 30.

After moving to the USA in the late 90s to complete his education, Nadkarni celebrated his debut for his adopted country by hammering a fine century (111) against the Cayman Island in August 2006 in the Americas Cup.

Nadkarni was also USA's highest run-getter in his side's successful campaign in the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 4 2010 in Ovale di Rastignano, Pianoro, Bologna, with 216 runs from five innings of seven matches at an average of 108. In that event, he also showed his muscles when he clubbed 17 fours and 12 sixes.

In the historic match against, which Afghanistan won by 29 runs, at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in February 2010, Nadkarni scored 12 and featured in a 28-run first wicket partnership with Carl Wright as the USA finished at 106-7 while chasing 136 for victory.

"Leading Team USA is an honour for me personally and I want to lead from the front.," says Nadkarni, adding: "We are representing thousands of cricketers in the USA and the expectations are pretty high from the stakeholders out here.

"The average age of the team is about 27 years. We have four new faces in our team ? Elmore Hutchinson (left-arm fast bowler), Adil Bhatti (all-rounder), Nauman Mustafa (wicketkeeper), and Abhimanyu Rajp (off-spinner) ? while some of our players like Steven Taylor (opener), Ryan Corns (all-rounder), Muhammad Ghous (off-spinner), and Andy Mohammed (left-handed middle-order bat) have come through the U19 programme and have represented the USA U19 in the recent years.

"A lot of responsibility will sit with the senior player group including Aditya Mishra (vice-captain), Orlando Baker (all-rounder), Usman Shuja (right-arm fast bowler), Gowkaran Roopnarine (opener), Asif Khan (left-arm spinner) and myself.

"Everyone is excited to be a part of this high profile tournament," he says.

Nadkarni says his side attended a selection camp in January in Florida and also played in four T20 selection matches. "The team is focusing heavily on fitness at the moment with each player reporting on the progress to the team physiotherapist, Mr. Masood Chik, on a regular basis."

The USA, along with Canada and Bermuda, qualified for the UAE tournament by finishing in the top three of the ICC Americas Division 1 in Florida in July 2011. The USA for the UAE event has been placed in Group B which also includes Ireland, Kenya, Scotland, Namibia, Uganda, Oman and Italy.

"We have met Ireland, Scotland, Oman, and Italy before but have not played Kenya, Namibia, and Uganda in the past five years, at least. Nevertheless, we are excited about the tournament and have been communicating with each other on regular weekly conference calls.

"When we arrive in Dubai, we will be playing three practice games before our first game against Uganda on 13 March 13."

Nadkarni says if his side qualifies for the tournament proper in Sri Lanka, then it would be a historic moment in the history of the USA sports and will give a tremendous boost to cricket. "Qualification to the ICC World Twenty20 Sri Lanka 2012 would be a historic achievement and a dream come true for the entire nation.

"Much as Major League Soccer went to the next level when the USA Soccer team made the World Cup, the same will happen with cricket in the country."

More details on the ICC WT20Q UAE 2012 can be found here

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