Central East denied semi-final spot after floodlight shut off
Central East Region's surprising run in the 2015 USACA T20 National Championship fell just short of the semi-finals in bizarre circumstances after their match against North West was called off with three overs to go as the floodlights were turned off at the Central Broward Regional Park on Saturday night in Lauderhill, Florida. The match was declared a tie, leaving Central East with two wins, a loss and a tie, and putting them behind New York and USA Development XI, who each finished with three wins and one loss in Group A.
Central East were restricted to 147 in their 20 overs in the final match of the day with North West offspinner Pranay Suri taking 4 for 25, his second four-wicket haul of the tournament. Aditya Mishra struck 57 off 40 balls including ten fours to lead North West's chase but was dismissed off the second ball of the 17th over as the score became 114 for 3. North West needed another 29 off the final three overs with two new batsmen at the crease when the match was halted.
The match took place on one of the artificial pitches on a satellite field adjacent to the main stadium wicket at Central Broward Regional Park. USACA first vice-president Owen Grey responded to ESPNcricinfo on Sunday and stated in an email that "a floodlight malfunction" occurred after which the match was unable to be resumed.* The umpires reviewed Duckworth-Lewis calculations which showed North West was level with the par score after 17 overs, resulting in the tie.
The game began at 6:45 pm, a 45-minute delayed start due to overlapping finishes from the previous slate of games, and the floodlights went off at 10:02 pm. Tournament rules state that in the event of a tie, a super over should determine the winner but in this instance that was not possible due to the floodlights going off. If North West had one less run, they would have qualified for the semi-finals despite a loss but Central East required a win to keep pace with New York and USA Development XI after having lost to South East on the final ball earlier in the day.
North West will take on USA Development XI in the first semi-final while South East's win over Central East guaranteed them a semi-final match against New York on Sunday. Central East were bowled out for 148, Ashhar Mehdi top-scoring with 69 off 45 balls. Steven Taylor followed up figures of 4 for 26 with 51 off 32 balls to power South East's chase on a stadium turf wicket. Japen Patel finished unbeaten on 14 off seven balls, including a boundary off the last ball of the match, to give South East a three-wicket win.
South East's only loss in group stages came earlier in the day when New York chased down their 166 for 5 by four wickets with three balls to spare. Taylor starred with the bat in this encounter as well, cracking 72 off 38, which included two fours and seven sixes. Alex Amsterdam, coming in at No.3, powered New York's chase with 72 off 42 balls.
New York needed a victory over North East in the afternoon to have a chance at the semi-finals and they did so with a 52-run victory. New York posted 202 for 6 on the back of 55 off 35 from Akeem Dodson and 40 off 22 from Amsterdam. North East's top four all went past 20 but no one could produce a big score to get them within striking distance of New York's total. Karanjit Singh and Anat Patel scored 37 each, but North East came up short, finishing on 150 for 5.
USA Development XI won both their matches on Saturday starting with an easy 116-run win in the morning over North East on the stadium turf wicket. 2014 USACA T20 National Championship MVP Nisarg Patel set up USA Development XI's total of 181 for 6 with an unbeaten 92 off 48. In reply, North East were bowled out for 65 with Sai Ramesh ripping through the tail to finish with figures of 4 for 2 in two overs.
In the afternoon, USA Development XI outlasted Atlantic in a high-scoring shootout to secure a 26-run win. Former USA U-19 player Mrunal Patel turned in the tournament's first century, striking an unbeaten 111 off 60 balls, as USA Development XI surged to 208 for 5. Allrounder Adil Bhatti kept Atlantic in the hunt with 108 off 49 balls including 12 sixes but got no substantial support from his team-mates with the next best score being Charan Singh's 18 off 21 balls. Medium pacer David Pieters took 3 for 30, including the wicket of Bhatti in the final over, as Atlantic finished on 182 for 9.
In a match that wound up being crucial to deciding both teams' chances of reaching the knockouts, North West held on for a five-run win over Central West on Saturday morning. North West grafted their way to a total of 157 before being bowled out in 19.3 overs. Mishra made 30 off 28 and was supported by Saqib Saleem's 31 off 36.
Opener Ahmed Waleed gave Central West a strong start in reply with 46 off 44 balls as they reached 88 for 1 in 12 overs before spin sparked a collapse. Legspinner Rahul Singh dismissed Waleed and Dhandapani Devarasan in the space of three balls in the 13th over to turn the tide for North West. Central West entered the final over against Suri needing 21 to win with three wickets in hand and broke it down to 14 off four balls before Suri struck with the third and fifth balls to clinch the match for North West, despite a last ball six. Suri, who claimed figures of 3 for 31, is the tournament's leading wicket-taker after the group stages with 12 scalps.
Atlantic Region defeated Central West by three wickets in the evening game on the stadium wicket to keep North East the only winless team in the group stages. After having opted to bat, Central West scratched their way to 123 for 4 in 20 overs, Devarasan top-scoring with a run-a-ball 31. Charan Singh then propelled Atlantic's chase with 38 off 30 balls and was supported by Savan Patel who made 31. Atlantic were cruising at 69 for 1 in the ninth over before losing a flurry of wickets but they managed to recover and finish the chase with five balls to spare.
*This article was updated at 17:20 GMT on Sunday, April 5 to reflect Owen Grey's response on behalf of USACA.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna