Nadkarni dropped from USA squad
Ten of the 14 players who played for USA at ICC WCL Division Three in Hong Kong, including vice-captain Sushil Nadkarni, have been replaced for the ICC Americas Division One Twenty20 tournament from July 18 to 23 in Florida.
"Sushil Nadkarni, for me and the rest of the selectors, is an ODI player, a 50-over player," chairman of selectors Sew Shivnarine told ESPNcricinfo on Monday. "In T20 you've got to have fitness and you've got to be strong out there. Sushil is a good batsman. I'm not taking anything away from Nadkarni, but in T20 we need fitness. That's one of the main reasons."
Nadkarni finished fourth overall on the runs list at the first ever USACA Twenty20 nationals on June 18 and 19 in New Jersey. Last year in Bermuda, Nadkarni, 35, was USA's leading run-getter when they won the inaugural ICC Americas Division One Twenty20 Championship.
Among Nadkarni's many astonishing feats was a 54-ball century in 2010 against Cayman Islands, one of USA's opponents next month. USA will also be squaring off against Suriname in the tournament, a side Nadkarni blitzed for a career-high 197 in 2008.
Since making his debut for USA at the ICC Americas Division One tournament in 2006, no one has scored more runs while representing the national team in that time span than Nadkarni. He has 1538 runs in all forms of cricket including four centuries and nine fifties. He was the Man of the Series at ICC WCL Division Four in Italy last August but had a disappointing series in Hong Kong, scoring 105 runs in six innings with a high of 47 against Italy.
Among the other players dropped was left-arm spinner Asif Khan, a former first-class cricketer in Pakistan, who made an impressive debut for USA in Hong Kong with six wickets in five innings. He also made a vital contribution with the bat against Oman, scoring an unbeaten 31 as part of an unbroken 71-run ninth wicket partnership in a two-wicket win. At the USACA Twenty20 Nationals, Khan took four wickets in two matches, including three batsmen out stumped. When asked to explain why Khan was left out, Shivnarine responded, "Who's Asif Khan?" He did not sound as though he was being sarcastic.
Japen Patel, Nauman Mustafa, Quasen Alfred, Bhim George and Samarth Shah are the five uncapped players who have been brought into the squad.
"I think Shah is a good left-arm spinner. At the trials, he impressed the selectors," Shivnarine said. "We feel that Shah is fitting in that team as the extra left-arm spinner. The primary left-arm spinner is Bhim George. The coach wanted extra spin so that's why we have Shah in the team. Japen Patel scores a lot of runs in his league. He's one of the big run-getters in the Atlanta area. We see a lot of talent in him. We can use him as an allrounder. He's one of the fittest guys in the team and I think he deserves to be in that 14 because we feel that he has a lot of potential for the future."
Clayton Lambert will return to coach the team in Florida. No captain has been named yet According to Shivnarine, the intention was to select Neil McGarrell, the former West Indies spinner, and make him the captain but he still does not qualify to play for USA because he has not been a resident for a minimum of four years prior to the start of this tournament.
USA squad: Quasen Alfred, Timroy Allen, Orlando Baker, Akeem Dodson, Bhim George, Muhammad Ghous, Adrian Gordon, Steve Massiah, Aditya Mishra, Nauman Mustafa, Japen Patel, Gowkaran Roopnarine, Samarth Shah, Usman Shuja.
Peter Della Penna is a journalist based in New Jersey