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Houston Cricket Match : Warriors v Blasters – Dr. Nilesh D. Mehta
All Star Cricket at Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas : Dr. Nilesh D. Mehta
A noisy and animated crowd at Minute Maid Park in Houston cheered every moment when the camera zoomed in on Sachin Tendulkar during the All Star Cricket match. Other than a few positive batting moments for the Blasters, it was an all around disappointment for Tendulkar’s team who suffered a second successive loss. Previously, Sachin’s Blasters had lost to Warne’s Warriors in New York.
Under a covered dome, Tendulkar’s Blasters won the toss and decided to field in this Twenty20 match that utilized a drop in pitch. This pitch was prepped on to the baseball center field on Monday allowing just over two days for it to settle for these cricket stalwarts.
While the crowd in Citi Field in New York was much larger, the decibel count of the crowd in Houston did not lack too far behind. On a well lit night under bright lights, on the day of Diwali, Shoaib Akhtar and Glenn McGrath started the proceedings for Blasters against Yorkshireman Michael Vaughan and Aussie Matthew Hayden. Vaughan was trapped by his fellow countryman Graeme Swann after a well made 30 runs. Hayden entertained the crowd with sixes off McGrath before McGrath bowled him. Kumar Sangakkara, man of the match, top scored with 70 off 30 balls and provided 28,000 Houstonians a lot to cheer.
Nolan Ryan, an ace Pitcher from Houston Astros, has his name affixed on a train that would make a brief run inside the Minute Maid Park every time a six would be scored. This is a baseball tradition for the Houston Astros that was adapted for the sixes that were scored.
There were several interesting moments and situations that the fans would remember for a long time. One of those was Mahela Jayawardene keeping wickets while his star Sri Lankan partner was playing free flowing strokes lambasting opponents.
Usman Rafiq, a substitute US cricketer, had his moment to shine but dropped a tough chance. But, it provided him with a unique opportunity to be on the field with cricket’s legends.
The response by Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag appeared to be quite sedate by Twenty20 standards. A silken off drive all along the ground by Tendulkar off the ace left arm bowler Wasim Akram reminded the frenzied crowd of the master class. Wickets fell in quick succession and there was no true partnership that had the potential to reach the mammoth total of 262 set by Warriors. It seemed to be a foregone conclusion of an abject surrender until Shaun Pollock, scoring a quick fire 55 off 21 deliveries, showed some heroics with some magnificent sixes. But, it was a little too late. Shaun Pollock and Kumar Sangakkara provided the fireworks to the fans on this Diwali day in what turned out to be purely an entertainment value for the sport.
Not surprisingly, Sourav Ganguly, who retired from cricket several years ago, seemed a mere shadow of his prime years struggling to score and mistiming his shots. Brian Lara and Tendulkar at the crease – what a sight that was at 43-2. This dynamic duo, has amassed 27,874 runs in test cricket, batted together for the third wicket partnership albeit briefly.
This match was thoroughly one-sided with Warne’s Warriors completely over powering Tendulkar’s Blasters. The third and final match will be played in Los Angeles on 14 November.