Miramar, Florida, October 31, 2014 – Fortune favored cricket this past weekend in Trinidad, permitting the Worldwide Cricket Academy (WWCA) and the Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) Under-19 women’s teams to complete the three scheduled matches. Thunderstorms roared through the entire week and threatened to stop play on the weekend but on Friday, the clouds parted and a kiss of sunshine made way for the games to begin on Saturday.
WWCA completed the tour to T&T with one win and two losses in two days. Despite the two losses, Coach Stephanie Power considered the tour a success. “Although we won only one of the three games we measured our success based on the fact that we do not play many games together as a team; we played against an established national Under-19 team which just came off of a tournament; we showed improvement in every game; and we received valuable learning experiences to take forward. Playing more matches like these against strong opposition would serve us well in our quest to become an elite team,” said Power.
In the day’s first T20, T&T won the toss and sent WWCA in to bat. T&T restricted WWCA to 90 for 7 in 20 overs. Sindhu Ashok and Erica Rendler put on a 74-run partnership with Ashok (44) scoring almost half of the team’s total and Rendler contributing 25 runs. In response, T&T chased the target in 16.4 overs with 6 wickets to spare. The WWCA spinning duo of Akshatha Rao and Samantha Ramautar scalped 2 for 16 and 1 for 11 respectively, and the 4th wicket fell at the hands of Skipper Nadia Gruny with a direct hit from mid-off.
In game 2, WWCA returned with less jitters to put on a match-winning, all-round bowling performance. In the first over, Neha Sukhija removed the T&T openers for a pair of ducks. Wickets fell rapidly with T&T eventually being bowled out for 80 runs in 18 overs. Sukhija, Gruny, and Rendler grabbed two wickets each. Gruny opened the WWCA innings and played a patient knock of 38 runs to take the team to the finish line. With 8 runs needed to win in 6 balls, it was Ramautar who took the team home with what is to be remembered as one of the most dramatic finishes of the tour. Ramautar’s straight drive for four off a full-toss at the top of the final over released some pressure. A quick two kept her on strike, and with only two runs to win from the last ball, T&T’s Kamara Ragoobar bowled an over-the-waist no ball and a little confusion ensued as batting partner Rao was run out on the second-run attempt. Not before long, the leg umpire called the no-ball and the scorers confirmed that the match was completed before the second-run attempt and won by WWCA.
Match-winner Ramautar thought, “The tour went very well and was a positive experience for the women. We had a good blend of youth and experienced players from different parts of the country. I could see everyone was eager to learn and play as much cricket as possible on the tour. We’ve definitely gained more exposure and experience on an international level by playing against this T&T Under-19 team on a turf wicket. We won only one out of three but we’ve come a long way and will take this experience made possible by WWCA, to continue to develop so we can become a stronger and more dependable team.”
On the final day of play, early morning showers forced a two-hour delay and a reduced match from 35 to 25 overs. Intermittent rain at the start of the match didn’t cause too much damage as WWCA sent T&T in to bat again. Triholder Marshall joined Sukhija at the top to add reinforcement to the pace attack. Sara Farooq, Marshall, and Ramautar snagged a wicket a piece, and Rao grabbed two wickets to end her breakthrough performance on this tour.
Rao was ecstatic about her bowling performance. “Having the most wickets in the tournament is a shock to me. I’ve worked hard to improve my bowling and I’m glad to see it come together. Overall, the tour was really amazing. We woke up to indoor practice facilities at the cricket center and the view from my bedroom was the cricket pitch. I couldn’t ask for anything better. The competition was great and I could see the development in some of our girls. It was also great to have a couple of teenagers with us because they will be the USA women players of the future.”
Chasing 129, WWCA’s Gruny and Ashok opened the innings. After a steady 36-run opening partnership, a blooper of a run-out occurred as Gruny (12) top-edged a ball into the sky around the middle of the pitch, attempted a run on what eventually became a dropped catch but both Gruny and Ashok were caught at the non-striker’s end. WWCA newcomer, Vritti Sethi, contributed 28 runs before a middle-order collapse. Ashok top scored with 39 but efforts were in vain as WWCA fell short by 11 runs to finish 119/8. Sethi, a 19-year old and former Singapore player, is a freshman college student at Indiana University.
“I had an amazing time on tour with WWCA. Thanks to Nadia for inviting me to come on tour. I really learned a lot and I look forward to being able to play more competitive cricket in the US,” said Sethi.
Rao tied with T&T’s R. Dookie to finish the tour with the most wickets in three games – 5, with an economy rate of 3.54, second to Dookie’s 3.08. For WWCA, Rao led the bowling with the most wickets and best economy rate followed by Ramautar with 3 wickets and an economy of 3.92. Ashok was the tournament’s highest run-getter with 98 followed by T&T’s S. Pascall with 54 and Gruny with 50.
Vice-Captain Triholder Marshall had an enjoyable tour and thought it boded well for WWCA players’ development. “Apart from being one of the most fun and exciting trips, this tour presented another learning opportunity for WWCA players. It highlighted our individual and collective strengths, and also made clear the areas we need to develop as individuals and as a team,” said Marshall.
Program Director Nadia Gruny lauded the local cricket bodies for their role in supporting women’s cricket in the US. “Many thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board and to the Trinidad and Tobago Women’s Cricket Association for organizing the tour in support of WWCA’s efforts to develop and expose our women cricketers to quality cricket competition. The hospitality was superb and the women loved every part of the trip, especially the national cricket facilities,” said Gruny.
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