The USA Cricket Women’s Regional Series finished this weekend with the Western leg of the competition seeing the West & Southwest competing at Prairie View Cricket Complex. As with the Eastern Women’s Regional Series, the first game of the series was washed out with the greater Houston region experiencing torrential rain for an extended period leading into the series.
Game two was also in danger of being cancelled due to the scale of rain that the Prairie View grounds had endured but thanks to some quick thinking and the support of the cricketing community and a huge effort from local ground staff, the 50 over game was moved to Round Rock Cricket Club just outside of Austin where a 32 over rain-reduced game took place to get the series underway. Southwest won the toss and batted first, with 13-year-old opener Pooja Ganesh top scoring with 35 (54 balls) and displaying some aggressive running between the wickets. Best of the bowlers was Uzma Iftikhar and the up and coming medium pacer Suhani Thadani both picking up 2 wickets from their overs to restrict Southwest to 147 for 9 from 32 Overs.
In response the opening batter for the West, Gargi Bhogle scored a well compiled 37 (51 balls) and earned herself the player of the match award for her batting. Solid contributions from Chetnaa Prasad (22), Laasya Mullapudi (26) & Anika Kolan (23) who all played well helped to ease the West towards victory and they took the opening match win with 7 wickets in hand.
On Saturday, game 3 was a delayed start but thanks to the ground staff at Prairie View Cricket Complex, the teams were able to go head-to-head in a reduced 40 overs a side game. Southwest again won the toss and chose to bowl to take advantage of the wet pitch but couldn’t restrict the fire power of the West with the Team USA & West Captain Sindhu Sriharsha playing a commanding innings in stifling heat to score 69 (66 balls) and put her team in a strong position. Teenage duo Anika Kolan (35 off 40 balls) and Isani Vaghela (25 off 26 balls) assisted the captain with aggressive hitting and were supported by some quickfire runs to finish the innings from experienced Erica Rendler (23* from 20 balls) and Uzma Iftkihar (16 from 12) to have West finish on an imposing 238/6 scoring at just shy of a run a ball.
In reply it was tough going for the Southwest and 14-year-old opener Snigdha Paul was the only batter to show some resistance with a hard fought 25 from 61 balls before succumbing to a sharp stumping by 14-year-old, Anika Kolan off the bowling of Akshatha Rao. Ifthikar (2/7 from 4) and Rao (2/6 from 3) were the main destroyers in the West bowling attack who were dominant in dismissing the Southwest for 88 to take an unassailable lead in the series.
The final game on Sunday was a T20 game, again played out in hot and humid conditions. West captain Sindhu Sriharsha continued her unlucky run with tosses and was told to field this time by Southwest captain, Mahika Kandanala. A 37-run opening partnership between Pooja Ganesh and Kandanala got the Southwest team off to a good start before Ganesh was dismissed for 21 by some outstanding fielding from Mullapudi. Southwests’ Tya Gonsalves (13 from 27) and Vidhya Prabhu (10 from 21) were the only other players to present themselves to an experienced West team. Best bowling from Suhani Thadani (0/4 from 2), Akshatha Rao (0/4 from 2) and Yashaaditi Teki (1/12 from 4) for the West.
Although only a small total of 79 to chase down, Southwest bowled tightly to pick up consistent wickets particularly those of form batters Gargi Bhogle (15 from 16) & Chetnaa Prasad (17 from 22). Key bowlers for the Southwest were Snigdha Paul (1/7 from 3), 13-year-old leg spinner, Sai Tanmayi Eyyunni (1/13 from 3.2) & Shreya Deo (1/13 from 2).
3-2-1 votes each game were awarded by both coaches & the umpires for the Player of the Tournament Award. Congratulations to those players below after some outstanding performances.
Gargi Bhogle (10 points) from Los Angeles was the Player of the Tournament, closely followed by Sindhu Sriharsha (9 points), and Suhani Thadani and 13-year-old Pooja Ganesh (both with 7 points).
Other vote getters: Snigdha Paul, Sai Tanmayi Eyyunni, Tya Gonsalves, Uzma Iftikhar and Anika Kolan
The Women’s Western Conference team as well as the Women’s Western Under 19 team will be announced later this week and will go on to play the Eastern Conference at the National Championships to be held at the Broward Cricket Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from the 3rd to the 8th of August, with the U19 Nationals soon after then from 11th to the 13th of August.