Peter Della Penna is a journalist based in New Jersey
Sushil Nadkarni, the left-handed batsman, will captain USA at the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier from March 13 to 24 in the UAE. The USA Cricket Association (USACA) also announced an 18-man preliminary squad for the tournament, which will be trimmed to 14 in February.
Nadkarni, 35, had previously represented India Under-19s and also played first-class cricket for Maharashtra in the Ranji Trophy before migrating to the USA.
Nadkarni's vice-captain will be Aditya Mishra, 30, who has made a rapid ascent into a leadership position since playing his first match for USA in 2010. USA will be relying on both men for major contributions if they are to gain one of the two available berths for the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 from September 18 to October 7 in Sri Lanka.
The two senior batsmen will lead a young and inexperienced squad in the UAE. Only three players - Nadkarni, Orlando Baker and Usman Shuja - remain from the squad that participated in the same event two years ago. Seven players among the 18 are under the age of 25.
The squad includes six players who have yet to make their senior debuts for USA. At least two are guaranteed of making the final 14 that will go to Dubai in early March and Elmore Hutchinson appears almost certain to be one of them. According to multiple sources, the left-arm seamer turned in a string of impressive performances during four trial matches that were held at a USACA training camp in Florida last weekend for the initial list of probables.
A surprise omission from the squad is Bhim George, who was the leading wicket-taker at the ICC Americas Division One Twenty20 tournament in July with 13 scalps in five games. George, 38, and Samarth Shah, 34, were beaten out by fellow left-arm orthodox spinner Asif Khan, 32. Khan was harshly dropped after a solid debut series for USA at ICC World Cricket League Division Three in Hong Kong last January but now appears set for a recall.
USA is in Group B at the qualifier along with Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Namibia, Oman, Scotland and Uganda. Their first match is on March 13 against Uganda in Sharjah.
USA preliminary squad: Sushil Nadkarni (capt), Aditya Mishra (vice-capt), Orlando Baker, Adil Bhatti, Ryan Corns, Akeem Dodson (wk), Muhammad Ghous, Elmore Hutchinson, Naseer Jamali, Asif Khan, Andy Mohammed, Nauman Mustafa (wk), Japen Patel, Abhimanyu Rajp, Gowkaran Roopnarine (wk), Usman Shuja, Timothy Surujbally, Steven Taylor (wk).