Atlanta, GA -The 4th Annual Atlanta Women’s T20 Cricket Championships, organized by the Georgia Women Cricket Association (GWCA) concluded last weekend here in Atlanta, Georgia, and for the third straight year the women of Atlantis Cricket Club – NY emerged victorious. Billed as the best opportunity for women cricketers in the USA to test their mettle against other US and international players, the tournament was held under some of nature’s most unforgiving heat and humidity conditions at times, at three parks in the Atlanta and suburban areas.
The GWCA tournament was sponsored in part by the American Cricket Federation and held during that organization’s “Women’s Cricket Awareness Week – 2014” designed to focus on growing the sport among the fairer sex, the role women cricketers can play in promoting the sport in the USA, as well as recognition of Ms. Petal Samuels as the principal figure behind the very successful annual women’s premier cricket event.
Six teams competed for the coveted women’s championship title – Defending champions Atlantis, CanAm United, Cayman Islands, Texas Thunderboltz, an Invitational XI, and host team Atlanta Pearls. Atlantis seeded No. 1, was expected to be tested by newcomer Texas Thunderboltz, an invigorated Cayman Islands National XI, and the combined Canadian and American – CanAm United team. However, Atlantis appeared determined to three-peat as champions and did not waste any time in dismissing the Invitational XI, Cayman Islands, and Texas Thunderboltz, on their way to an unbeaten streak of 11 tournament matches, the much anticipated clash with the very talented CanAm United team, and three championship titles.
By the second day of the tournament, it was obvious that the four teams headed for the semi-final round were Atlantis and CanAm United, each with 3-0 records, followed by Cayman Islands and Texas Thunderboltz, each with 2-1 postings. However, in the interest of time, the tournament organizers along with the managers of the four teams agreed to take the tournament directly to the final showdown between Atlantis and CanAm United. Statistically Cayman Islands secured the third place title based on net run rate, followed by Texas Thunderbolts in fourth-place, with Atlanta Pearls and the Invitational XI finishing in the cellar.
Getting to the Finals
Atlantis reached the finals by defeating the Invitational XI by 69 runs. ACC 103 for 9 in 16 overs. N. Gruny, 26, S. Ashok, 17, J. Alexander-Serrano, 16, S. Wilson, 14, N. Anand, 11. Invitational XI all out for 34 in 16 overs; Cayman Islands by 72 runs. ACC 118 for 4 in 20 overs. S. Ashok Fnu, 32, N. Gruny, 26, J. Alexander-Serrano, 16 not out. C. Thomas 2 for 30. Cayman Islands 48 all out in 18.2 overs. M. Moore, 13. J. Alexander-Serrano 3 for 7, N. Anand and J. Jones each had 2 for 6; Texas Thunderboltz by 89 runs. ACC 138 for 4 in 20 overs. S. Ramataur, 61 not out, N. Gruny 40, S. Ashok Fnu, 15. Thunderboltz 49 for 7 in 20 overs.
Atlantis’ first real test of the tournament came when the Texas Thunderboltz had Atlantis losing its first two wickets for 10 runs, and later at 43 for three, before Nadia Gruny joined Atlantis’ skipper Samantha Ramataur in the middle and together the pair added more than a 50-runs fourth-wicket partnership, with a belligerent knock of 61 not out from skipper Ramataur. Gruny had a supporting contribution of 40, before being bowled by Anuprita Malik.
CanAm United advanced to the championship finals defeating the Atlanta Pearls by 10 wickets. Atlanta Pearls 37 and CanAm United 38 without loss. T. Granger, 20; Texas Thunderboltz by 5 wickets. Texas Thunderboltz 76 all out in 18 overs. B. Sankar, 15, K. Tirumala, 10. M. Patel 2 for 13. Can m United 77 for 5 in 12 overs. T. Granger, 38 not out, A. Porter, 12. The CanAm United vs. Invitational XI match was not played.
Tasmeen Granger, a 19 year-old Zimbabwe national player and an accomplished all-rounder, played a pivotal role in the CanAm United team, with some solid performances in the matches preceding the championship final, earning her two MVP match awards.
Atlantis defeated CanAm United by 13 runs. The championship final was reduced to a 15-overs contest in the interest of time and to allow for the post championship presentations. Atlantis won the toss and elected to take first strike. Final scores: Atlantis 108 for 3 in 15 overs – Sindhu Ashok 50 not out (4x4s), Joy Jones, 18 (2x4s) Neha Anand, 16, and Nadia Gruny 12. Bowling for Can Am United – Rupal Van Zweeden, Monali Patel and Victoria Begg, one wicket each for 11, 20 and 26 respectively.
In response: CanAm United, 95 for 7 in 15 overs – Victoria Begg, 36 (5x4s), Tasmeen Granger, 20 (3x4s) and Durriya Shabbir, 12. Bowling for Atlantis – Joy Jones 2 for 15, and Akshatha Rao, Neha Anand and Samantha Ramataur, all with one wicket each for 8, 9 and 14 respectively.
The match was watched by scores of local residents and cricket lovers in an idyllic setting of shaded trees and a picnic-like and bar-b-que atmosphere. In the end it was the best two teams meeting in the championship final and producing a cliffhanger, as fortune swayed from side to side with each delivery bowled.
The Atlantis pace duo of Jones and Anand in the final two overs may very well have been the strategic factor that determined the outcome of the match, as an obviously tired CanAm United Victoria Begg who opened the inning for her team, struggled to stay at the wicket through to the end, while her team mates came and left.
The pressure only mounted on the in-form Begg, as the asking rate climbed to 23 off of 12 deliveries, then 18 off of 6, and most of the Atlantis fielders bracing the ropes on the boundary with the fiery Neha Anand bowling Atlantis to its third straight championship. In attempting to lift one for the maximum, Begg was caught by Beulah Pidakala just seven yards inside the boundary line. That dismissal pretty much secured Atlantis the victory. Begg, through her bowling, fielding, and batting, easily won the hearts of many, including Atlantis’ players, for her sterling contribution to the CanAm United team.
CanAm United with 19 year-old Zimbabwe national player Tasmeen Granger (Tournament MVP), former Middlesex 1st XI player Victoria Begg, and Canadian national players Vijayani Vithanage, Monali Patel, Maswisgh Khan, Durriya Shabbir and Achini Perera, along with former USA women’s captain Durga Das, Netherlands’ Rupal Van Zweeden, a five year 1st Division player, and Julie Abbott, a former England Junior Women batswoman, presented a major challenge for Atlantis, resulting in such a close finish. However, Atlantis with USA national players Samantha Ramataur (Capt.), Nadia Gruny, Akshatha Rao, Joan Alexander-Serrano, Joy Jones, and Sara Farooq, along with regulars Neha Anand, Sihle Wilson, Olga Charles, Beulah Pidakala and newcomers Sindhu Ashok Fnu, Nisha Patel, and 15 year-old Gita Venkatakrishnan, would prove Atlantis to be an immovable object from its champions perch.
As the match drew to a close, the spectators got more involved and found it difficult to root for one side over the other, encouraging both batswomen and bowlers to triumph. In the end Atlantis prevailed after being presented with their biggest challenge of the Atlanta Women’s T20 Tournaments, in an unbeaten streak of three championships.
Atlantis with batting as deep as number seven and bowling even deeper, is capable of putting in an excellent all round performance against its peers, and the 4th Annual Atlanta Women’s T20 tournament was no exception. On the few occasions that Atlantis was challenged, the confidence of its bench never wavered, a remarkable accomplishment for a team that does not enjoy the luxury of practicing as a unit on a regular basis.
Coached this year by former West Indies women’s captain and assistant coach Stefanie Power, a 2012 Lifetime Honorary Member of Atlantis, the squad displayed a tremendous will to succeed, and they did. Coach Power also served as the Honorary Tournament Coach, much to the delight of many of the participating players.
Most Valuable Player Match Recognition Awards
Cayman Islands vs. Pearls – – Carneth Thomas (Cayman Islands)
Atlantis vs. Cayman Islands – – Joan Alexander-Serrano (Atlantis)
CanAm United vs. Atlanta Pearls – Tasmeen Granger (CanAm United)
Texas Thunderboltz vs. Atlantis – – Samantha Ramataur (Atlantis)
CanAm United vs. Texas Thunderboltz Tasmeen Granger (CanAm United)
Texas Thunderboltz vs. Atlanta Pearls Pratyusha Balamuru (Texas Thunderboltz)
Atlanta Pearls vs. Invitational XI- – Ritu Singh (Invitational XI)
Tournament MVP- – Tasmeen Granger (CanAm United)
Championship Final MVP Sindhu Ashok Fnu (Atlantis)
Most Runs – – – Nadia Gruny (Atlantis)
Most Wickets – – Tasmeen Granger (CanAm United)
Best Wicketkeeper – Sindhu Askok Fnu (Atlantis)
Best Fielder- – – Victoria Begg (CanAm United)
Most Promising Player – Ritu Singh (Invitational XI)
American Cricket Federation ”Spirit of Cricket Award” – Alicia Porter (CanAm United)
The American Cricket Federation (ACF) “Spirit of Cricket Award” was presented to the player, who in the opinion of the judges demonstrated the true spirit in which the sport of cricket should be played. ACF Women’s Cricket Representative Durga Das presented the recognition plaque to CanAm United’s Alicia Porter.
One remarkable highlight of the tournament was eight-year old Ritu Singh’s debut among some players four times her age. She’s unafraid and quite a class act as an all-rounder, and for someone so young. It explains why the You Tube video of the bespectacled young girl has garnered almost 1,000 views since it was posted five months ago.
If young Ritu Singh is any indication of what’s to come for women’s cricket in the USA, then the game played by the fairer sex will take America by storm.
Ritu’s brother Yuvraj Singh is no slouch himself as a cricketer. One year older than his very talented sister, Yuvraj was adjudged the “Tournament’s Little Helper,” and received a special youth award.
In addition to the list of advertisers in its 2014 Souvenir Journal, the GWCA wishes to thank the scores of cricket fans in attendance at the matches, and the following individuals and organizations for their very generous support in making the tournament the success it was – Jermaine Lindo, Ashan Plummer, Marvin Darlington, Shnell Armwood, Brittney Porter, Paula Halley and Family, Shawna Thomas and family, Keith Maxwell and family, Lada Bedi, Atlanta Georgia Cricket Conference, Alfred Madray, Denys Williams, Evan Bjorkenstam, Tesalon Felicien, Simeon Felicien and Shariel Felicien.
Special thanks to the Pat Baccas Future Movement Radio show, Beulah Pidakala and xprncsports.com for providing live streaming of the matches, Georgia Supreme Cricket Umpires Association, Atlanta Georgia Cricket Umpires Association, and all those who assisted in scoring the matches.
The 5th Annual Atlanta Women’s T20 Cricket Tournament is scheduled for May 23-24, 2015 in Atlanta, GA.