Midway Through The Midwest!!!
After 2 months of cricket in the Midwest it is just about time to figure out who stands where in this war, that is the Midwest Tournament. The presence of three groups, each of which has 11 teams, has made this tournament huge, not only stature, but also in size. This being the halfway stage (well just past it), its time now to identify the hitters and the missers in each group and try to forecast accurately the outcome of this years edition. Believe me when I say, this has been one tough job, with the missing scorecard and the rain abandonment playing no small part and hence no amount of help from tarot readers and the palm readers is going to help us with these predictions. So, all I can do is bullshit and hope everything falls into place. It actually does not matter, because as Morpheus would attest, reality is just the electrical impulses that my brain senses. So I am going to believe all that I am writing down below as gospel. You do that too and address all comments to email@example.com. As u might notice, that is not a valid email id. So.. sit tight.
This has been the group that has been worst affected by these un-seasonal rains. As much as 4 matches abandoned, with MVCC having two. It’s interesting, therefore, to see MVCC among the top 3 in this group at the halfway stage. Since this analyst cannot really predict what would have transpired if those rain affected matches had progressed to completion, he is inclined to give MVCC the benefit of doubt and assume that they would have won one of those matches and hence still be at 6 points (having gained 2 points from a forfeit by FWCC). With OSUII and Columbus (IN) snapping close at their heels with 5 points each. Now Columbus (IN) have just 3 matches completed one of which was abandoned. So it is certain (knowing fairly their strengths, having played against them last year) that they would go farther in this tournament than they have so far. With Bouncer, Buckeye and OSUII also having one each of their matches abandoned, they could possibly make a jump too. But, as far as I am concerned, the teams to watch out for in the next stage would be surely Columbus (IN) and then the second place would be a close contest between Bouncer11 and MVCC and Purdue (who topped their group last year). The last mentioned have won both their matches so far and have a good chance of upstaging the others incase it comes down to the NRR. Hence Purdue is my bet for the second place. The last two places are going to be a tough choice and hence I do not want to call them. It has to be however noted that these predictions are solely my point of view. And while my views are usually correct, I will recant my statements if you are from another galaxy. But only after ensuring that the rail gun and the light saber on your belt are not from the shelves of ToysRus.
Predictions for the next stage: Columbus (IN), Purdue, and two other teams from between OSUII, MVCC and Bouncer
Players to watch out for: Mohammed Mazhar Khan (Columbus (IN)) with 89 runs and 4 catches (2 matches) and Amit Patel (Bouncer11) with 90 runs, 5 wickets and 2 catches and Pankaj Chipalkatti (Purdue) with 79 runs, 3 wickets and 2 dismissals.
Notable Performances: Purdue opener Pradeep Parerra's 70 runs and 2 wickets against FWCC. FWCC’s bowler Kamran Hafeez's 6 wickets in the same match.
This group has been perhaps the most evenly matched. CCC occupies a lonely spot at the top at this stage with 9 points. Three different teams - WVU, OSU, Cleveland, are at 6 points with Cleveland technically second having played one fewer match than the other two. Interestingly, last year, CCC and Cleveland were in different groups and finished in the lower half of each group with almost identical records. These teams in my eyes are the most improved, at least going by their records so far this year. If trends continue unchecked, the above-mentioned teams will be in the next stage. But the fact is that there are three teams with 5 points each (Akron, ECC and YCC), all of which have been unfortunate victims of the rain havoc. Hence this group promises to be the nail-chewer of the lot. We will have to wait and watch before making any predictions.
Predictions for the next stage: Any four teams from the top seven
Players to watch out for: Sohail Choudary (WVU) 195 runs (with 2 fifties), 13 wickets and 3 dismissals (from 5 matches), Bharat Jataprolu (CCC) with 169 runs (highest score of 126), 8 wickets.
Notable Performances: Bharat Jataprolu's 126 against Cleveland2, Sohail Chowdry's 6 for 32 against Cleveland2.
This group seems to have been a Lexington show so far. Three centuries (not to mention another that was missed by a whisker) by Hammad Malik and Hammad Bokhari and steady bowling by their bowlers have helped Lexington thrash all their opponents so far - UC by 120 runs, Cincinnati2 by 60 runs and COBCA by 121 runs. That they have made light of their two abandoned matches makes this record much more spectacular. They certainly will top the group at the end of the preliminary stage. They have four more home games scheduled and the presence of good batting conditions, a short offside boundaries and good clean hitters means that they will win most of their remaining home games. The rest of the field seems to be balanced enough with Nationwide, OUCC and London forming the top half of the table so far. OUCC seems to be the most improved team this year, with 2 victories already after having to win just one last year. Their bowlers have managed to perfect the end game this year. Moreover one of their games is sub-judice (under the TOC) which means that OUCC could be a strong contender this year. Nationwide2 also seems be a certainty for the next stage of this tournament. As for the other teams, the analyst wishes to add that several of the jokes that COBCA players made during the course of the match against OUCC were well appreciated. The “thong” joke still makes me go “rotfl”. We enjoyed the match, guys.
Predictions for the next stage: Lexington and Nationwide2 then two out the next three teams (OUCC, London, UK)
Players to watch out for: The two Hammads from Lexington, Malik and Bokhari (who top the overall batting this year with aggregates of 244 and 234 runs respectively)
Notable Performances: Big knocks from Hammad Malik and Hammad Bokhari and the 6 for 21 by Shahid Iqbal for Lexington against COBCA.
QOTD: "Who do you think you are ? Steve Waugh?" - Question posed to Anshuman by an opposing opening batsman wearing a RED BASEBALL HELMET during the course of some well directed sledging by Anshuman (7/13/2003, OUCC Cricket Ground, West State Street, Athens, Ohio)