Nitesh Kumar saved his best innings for the last as the skipper scored 68 not out, getting Canada across the line with a tense three-wicket victory over USA to win the ICC Americas Northern Division U15 Tournament at Erskine Cricket Ground in Brooklyn, New York. Kumar was named Man of the Match and Man of the Tournament after finishing with the second highest runs while topping the averages with 173 at 86.5, in addition to being tied for third in the wickets column with eight dismissals.
"I thought until Nitesh is there, we had a hope," said Canada coach Farouk Kirmani. "People play around Nitesh. He can take charge at the wicket and I told him what to do. Just stay there until the end of the game and we'll be in a winning position."
The match started an hour late because of overnight rain in Brooklyn. The outfield and pitch were fine, but the run ups for the bowlers needed some attention before play could begin. The ground staff did an outstanding job to get the game started with only a short delay.
With the sun shining bright, USA won the toss and elected to bat first. For the second day in a row, Stephan Rajasingam was the catalyst for Canada's success at the start of the innings as he dismissed both openers, Vikram Valluri (2) and Rishi Patel (2), with his left arm medium pace. When Vidura Ratnayake (1-25) got USA captain Steven Taylor out in the fifth over, it left USA in a deep hole at 16-3 and it was never able to climb out of it.
After the early breakthroughs with pace, Canada then strangled USA into submission with tight spin bowling. Persaud top scored with 25 as USA finished at 127-9 in its 40 overs.
In the second innings, USA put in a disciplined bowling performance to make Canada struggle for runs. The first wide wasn't delivered until the 15th over, just after Krish Goel had dismissed Manoosingh for a seven-ball duck to make it 41-4. It wasn't until Ratnayake came in at number seven and scored a rapid 21 that a teammate gave Kumar any kind of help from the opposite end, but when Ratnayake was dismissed by Patel with the score at 87-6, it looked like USA just might defend its small total.
Kumar kept cool though and with Jeevan Sidhu giving him support, the captain steered Canada towards the target. He brought up his 50 in 66 balls as Canada's contingent at the ground gave Kumar a big ovation. Sidhu got out with two needed to win, but on the next ball, Kumar hit the winning runs with a two wide of mid on to give Canada the match and the tournament title.
USA finished second with Bermuda at third. If Bermuda had beaten USA in the first match of the tournament, which USA won by only one run, Bermuda would have been tournament champions because it would have finished level on points with Canada but would have won out with a superior net run rate.
At the post tournament trophy presentation, several honors were shared among the teams. While Kumar was named Man of the Tournament, Kamau Leverock of Bermuda was named the Best Bowler at the event after finishing tied with Ratnayake at nine wickets in four matches. Ratnayake was named Best Fielder for his brilliant fielding as he took five catches throughout the week and teamed up for a run out in the final match. Taylor was named Best Batsman after leading the runs list with 183 in four innings including two half-centuries. Christian Burgess was named Best Wicketkeeper for his tidy glovework, not to mention a series of stunning diving catches behind the stumps to finish with the most dismissals in the tournament.
Match report provided by USACA courtesy of Dreamcricket.com.
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