The MiLC All-Rounder – Week Eight

Oh, what a tangled web we weave! After almost 200 matches over seven weeks, we finally came down to the final weekend of the Toyota Minor League Cricket regular season. And when it was over, eight teams moved one step closer to punching their tickets to Morrisville, while players on the other 18 teams got an early start on their back-to-school shopping, apple picking, and whatever else people do in the late summer.

Of course, figuring out which eight move on and which 18 clean out their lockers isn’t so simple. While a few teams were in complete control of their destinies, most required some help from some other teams if they were going to move on. Thankfully, Steve Steinberg from CricAmerica was around to sort through all of the possible playoff scenarios. So, take a deep breath and see if your favorite MiLC team survived the weekend.

Eastern Division

What they needed to happen…

New Jersey Stallions: They’ve already clinched a playoff spot and have virtually locked up first place. If they beat either the Philadelphians on Saturday or the Cavaliers on Sunday, they’ll win the division and won’t have to go to a NRR tie-breaker for the division title.

Manhattan Yorkers: If they win either of two games against the DC Hawks, they’ll clinch second place in the east. If they sweep the Hawks and the Stallions lose both their games, it could come down to a NRR tie-breaker.

The Philadelphians: They need to beat the first-place Stallions and then then the Titans and then they need the Yorkers to lose back-to-back games against the Hawks. If all that happens, there’s an ever-so-slight mathematical chance that they’ll go to the playoffs.

What actually happened…

On Saturday, New Jersey staked their claim as the top team in the east with a solid victory over the Philadelphians. Despite a 57-run innings from Jonathan Foo, the Phillies couldn’t stop New Jersey’s bats. A strong partnership between Dominique Rikhi 62* and Anthony Bramble, who put up 25, set the tone and the Stallions never looked back — surpassing the Philadelphians 124 in 18 overs.

Manhattan also made quick work of their Saturday foe. They bowled out the DC Hawks for just 90 in 18.4 overs behind Surya Thurumella’s three-wicket haul and needed just 10.2 overs to notch the W thanks to opener Rarjeep Darbar’s 40(25).

There were no surprises on Sunday, either. The Yorkers thrashed the Hawks by 70 runs. Manhattan posted 159 and had five batters win 20-plus-run knocks. Their bowling attack — with another three-wicket grab from Thurumella and three from Christopher Barnwell — was able to send the Hawks to the off-season after allowing only 89 runs. And in their final game of the season, the Stallions showed why they made it all the way to the Minor League Cricket finals last year. Three-wicket hauls from Sachin Mylavarapu (four runs allowed in four overs!), Raymond Ramrattan, and Preet Shah helped bowl out the New Jersey Somerset Cavaliers for just 63 runs in 17 overs.

When the dust cleared…

New Jersey maintained their hold on first place while the Yorkers were able to hang on to second place and a playoff spot.

Southern Division

What they needed to happen (you may want to pour yourself a drink)…

Atlanta Lightning: If they sweep the Raptors and the Atlanta Fire lose any of their three games this weekend, they’ll take top spot in the division. If they split with Morrisville and the Fire win two of their three games, then they’ll end up in the second playoff position — UNLESS Morrisville wins its remaining two games and then they’d be out of the playoffs. If they lose both games to Morrisville and the Fire win just one of their games, the Lightning will be eliminated.

Atlanta Fire: If they beat the Raptors on Friday and then sweep the last-place Ft. Lauderdale Lions over the weekend, they’ll clinch top spot in the south. If they go two for three out of the weekend, they’ll stay in the top spot if the Lightning split with the Raptors and the Raptors don’t win three of their four games over the weekend. If the Lightning sweep the Raptors, The Fire would take second place. If they don’t win at least two matches, they better hope for total collapses by the Lightning and the Raptors.

Morrisville Raptors: If they win at least three of their four game over the weekend, they take first place in the south unless the Fire win all three of their matches. If they go 2-2 over the weekend, they’ll hang on to second place if one of those wins is against the Lightning.

What actually happened…

Morrisville got an early gift when the Ft Lauderdale Lions forfeited their Friday night match due to player availability issues. The Raptors couldn’t win the night-cap on Friday against the Atlanta Fire, though. On a Church Street Park pitch where they’ve been dominant and where opening teams have been averaging in the 160s, the Raptors came up with only a weak 129. The Fire, aided by a rough 16-run 17th over by Raptor bowler Abhiram Bolisetty, were able to sneak past the line in the final over.

On Saturday, The Fire ran up against a fired-up Ft Lauderdale Lions team in what might have been one of the best matches of the year. Chasing the Fire’s 161, the Lions needed 21 from the final over when Javelle Glenn threw the entire Ft Lauderdale team on his back and responded with four sixes and a 26-run over. Glenn ended up with 83 from 48 balls in what was clearly the Lions best outing of the year.

In the late game at Church Street, the hometown fans saw another thrilling match as Morrisville was able to stage a heroic late innings charge to seal a spot in the playoffs and end the Atlanta Lightning’s post-season hopes. The Lightning put up an impressive 178 thanks to strong knocks from Hanchard Hamilton 74(45) and Jesse Bootan 52(38), but Morrisville was ready to go to the playoffs. A solid late partnership between Matthew Forde 22* and Obus Pienaar 41* — assisted by four no-ball calls in the final four overs — sent the Raptors and the Raptors’ fans home happy.

On Sunday, the Fire put in their claim for the top spot with a resounding 50-run win over the Lions. Rakheem Cornwall scored 86 of the Fire’s 183 and also helped with the ball — picking up a wicket in his two overs bowled. The late game saw Morrisville open with another subpar 146. The Lightning used strong innings from Mark Parchment 68* and Jesse Bootan 32(16) to exact a little revenge in the final game of the season.

When the dust cleared…

The Atlanta Fire won the division with the Morrisville Raptors taking second place.

Central Division

What they needed to happen…

Dallas: They’ve already clinched first place. The Mustangs’ goal is to escape the weekend injury free.

Chicago Tigers: Beat the last place 0-11 Chicago Tigers and then hope that the Michigan Cricket Stars don’t sweep the Mustangs.

Michigan Cricket Stars: They control their own fate. If they can beat the Mustangs in back-to-back games, they’ll make it to the playoffs.

What actually happened…

On Friday, the Chicago Tigers did what they were supposed to do by taking out the last-place Blasters. Syed Saad Ali 48(25) and Kush Ganji put together an opening 68-run partnership that set the tone for the Tigers innings. The Blasters never really got on a pace to chase 150 as a balanced bowling attack — all five Tiger bowlers picked up wickets — held them to 129 and kept them victory-less for the year.

On Saturday, the Cricket Stars took on the Mustangs in the first of back-to-back must-win games against the division leader. Strong mid-innings batting from Corey Anderson 94*(46) paved the way to a solid 197 total for the Mustangs, but the Cricket Stars were not to be denied. Ryan Scott — as he’s done so many times — was a beast. His 70 from only 33 balls coupled with late power from Mohammad Mohsin 42(22) were enough to get Michigan over the line and let them live to see another day.

On Sunday, though, Michigan couldn’t seem to get on track. Early on, Ryan Scott took a Burt Cockley delivery to the hand and had to leave the game. He would later return but would be dismissed for just 21. With Cricket Star bats virtually silent for the final few overs, they limped to a 119/7 score. Openers Rishi Ramesh’s 33 and Sujith Gowda’s 69* got the Mustangs chase off to a good start and it took only 14.2 overs to send the Cricket Stars into the off-season.

In a couple of matches that didn’t have any playoff implications, the St Louis Americans took back-to-back matches from the Lone Star Athletics. St. Louis took the first game by six wickets, topping Lone Star’s 141 in the 19th over, and then came back even stronger on Sunday putting up a 173 score that the Athletics could only look at in admiration. The Americans’ Nikhil Kanchan supplied the majority of the power for St. Louis for the weekend with scores of 46 and 40, but it was the Athletics’ Shavan Jahangir who produced the series most prodigious shot…

When the dust cleared…

Dallas retained their hold on first-place and the Chicago Tigers claim the number-two spot.

Western Division

Here’s what they needed to happen…

Silicon Valley Strikers: Like the Mustangs, they’ve already clinched the top spot in the division. They only have to make it through one more regular season game before the playoffs start.

East Bay Blazers: A win over the last place Hollywood Master Blasters would make them the favorites for the second spot in the west. If they lose and Seattle sweeps Golden State, they’ll be eliminated.

Seattle Thunderbolts: They probably need to sweep the Grizzlies and hope for an East Bay loss to qualify for the post-season. If they sweep and East Bay wins, it could come down to a tight NNR tie-breaker.

What actually happened…

With everyone’s eyes on Net Run Rate, these looked to be fast games — and the East Bay Blazers didn’t disappoint. On Saturday, the Blazers tore through the Hollywood Master Blasters — eclipsing their 108 total in just 11.2 overs with Saideep Ganesh 53(30) and David White 48*(31) doing most of the heavy lifting.

Despite being four points down in the points table and seemingly miles behind in NRR, Seattle didn’t flinch. On Saturday, they bowled out the Golden State Grizzles — a team that went to the league semi-finals last year — for 122 in 17.3 overs thanks to a three-wicket haul from Phani Simhadri. Wasting no time in chasing, the bolts rode the bat of opener Rayyan Khan Pathan — 61 from 32 balls with four fours and five sixes — to get over the line at the 11.5 mark.

Needing an even more impressive win to sneak into the playoffs, Seattle held the Grizzles to just 110 on Sunday. Shubham Ranjane’s lights out bowling — three wickets and only 12 runs allowed in four overs — set the table for the Thunderbolts’ bats to do the rest. Another strong innings from Parthan 31(11) and some added punch from Harmeet Singh — a walloping 45 off of 13 balls with six sixes — got them to the 111 mark in just 7.1 overs.

When the dust cleared…

Last year’s champion Silicon Valley Strikers once again took first place in the division and, thanks to two dominating performances, the Seattle Thunderbolts managed to overtake the East Bay Blazers in Net Run rate 1.67 to 1.6 to claim the second playoff spot.

What it all means…

It’s playoff time!

New Jersey Stallions v Morrisville Raptors

Atlanta Fire v Manhattan Yorkers

Dallas Mustangs v Seattle Thunderbolts

Silicon Valley Strikers v Chicago Tigers

See you next week!