The BP:L was honored to host the USA Cricket Senior Men’s Combine in Chicago memorial day weekend. The best players in the midwest were on display as they competed for spots in the USA National Men’s team. The BPL stadium was the venue selected by ICC America’s for this combine as it boasts Chicago’s first turf wicket, a pitch that performed impeccably over 3 days of play and was nothing short of an international level pitch. The players, selectors and spectators truly appreciated the efforts put forth by the BPL to elevate the quality of cricket with the turf addition, which is another feather in BPL’s hat.
There were some notable performances this weekend. With the bat Srini Salver’s excellent run-a-ball 81 on Sunday stood out, as did Ibrahim Khaleel’s cultured fifty on Saturday – the classiest innings of the weekend, especially featuring his footwork against the spinners. Shaheer Hassan shone brightly but all too briefly – 3 sixes on Saturday and 3 more on Sunday (and probably the shot of the tournament – a six over point off USA speedster Ali Khan on Friday) demonstrated his brilliant ball striking ability to the national selectors that Chicago bowlers are all too familiar with, but he failed to build a substantial knock that could have thrust him to the forefront of the national conversation. The showing that would have made the USA selectors happiest, however, was that of Ali Khan – the former USA speedster who has been on a sabbatical from Team USA showed no signs whatsoever of rust and bowled with fiery pace and control, conceding very little in terms of runs, and consistently picking up wickets in most spells. The single highlight of the bowling this weekend was probably Ali’s beautiful yorker that clean-bowled the well-set Ibrahim Khaleel on Saturday afternoon. One element missing in this combine was Chicago’s very own star and USA national player Fahad Babar, who is currently playing cricket in Pakistan and is looking forward to playing Pakistan First Class this year and the PSL in 2019. No doubt he would have been sensational to watch this week, nevertheless we are proud of his achievements abroad.
There were good performances from some of our local players as well. In the forefront was Mohammad Sami Khan from the BPL who had an excellent weekend with both bat and ball – useful contributions with the bat in every match (30, 17, 36), and excellent off-spin that brought him 6 wickets in 16 overs highlighted by an outstanding spell on Sunday that brought him 3 wickets for 6 runs. Datta Prakash was solid with the ball, with 4-45 spread over 12 overs in the two 50-over games. Sikander Soleja was consistently solid with the ball, conceding only 48 runs in 14 overs spread over 3 games – but unfortunately was given very little opportunity to demonstrate his outstanding hitting ability this weekend, consistently batting very low in the order (including, strangely, being sent in at #11 on Saturday – when he promptly made 14 not out off 10 balls with a four and a six before running out of partners!) Anupam and Amit Kumar were solid in their opportunities with ball too – and Koti shone with his consistency with the ball in the middle overs, though did not live up to his well-known ability with the bat. And it was especially great to see young 15-year-old leg-spinner Tejas Vishal get an opportunity to bowl at the best senior batsmen of the region on Sunday along with youth opening batsman Vignesh Sundaresan as both were consistent and promising for US cricket.
The weekend was a memorable one as the players walked away with a sense of pride and motivation to work towards becoming the best of the best and someday play for their country. The BPL is committed to improving the standard of cricket in America and to make cricket a sport for all Americans.
Click on the below link to see the pictures from the combine.