USA Take Top Spot and Progress to Next Stage
Despite a minor wobble that had people scrambling for calculators, the USA comfortably won the Americas Qualifiers to take the sole spot and progress to the Global Qualifiers in 2022.
Heading into the final day there was a mathematical possibility that either Brazil or Canada may have joined the USA in top spot and the tournament thus decided by net run rate. In reality it was a pipe dream, for the USA’s last match was against bottom placed Argentina and in the end the calculators were not needed.
A combination of a four pronged pace attack and an energetic fielding unit were the keys to the success of the USA. None of their opponents were able to get on top of that pace attack in conditions where runs were hard to come by. The USA were deserving winners and looked like for the get go. It was for the other teams to chase and catch up.
Each team played the others twice which allowed the opportunity to get a true gauge of the teams, not something possible from a single game, especially in T20 format.
The young pace attack unleashed in this tournament bowled with discipline and variety and on occasions hostility. Left arm pacer Tara Norris was a model of all three of those aspects, her 2-5 from 4 overs in the opening game against Brazil is a case in point. She took 2-4 from the return fixture to emphasise her ability. Those 4 wickets were Tara’s full tally but her real value was an economy rate of just 1.72 runs per over. Gold.
Moksha Chaudhary the right arm pacer also shone, taking 7 wickets at 10.42 as did Sara Farooq with 5 wickets at 10.80. However the real star of the show with the ball was medium pacer Suhani Thadani. The fifteen year old bowled with great rhythm and accuracy and was a real chance to be Player of the Tournament. Suhani’s 8 wickets came at 3.67 average and an economy of 1.63 runs per over, the best economy during the series.
The pacers were well backed up two spinners in Uzma Iftikhar who finished with 5 wickets which put her to the top of USA wicket takers, and Akshatha Rao who only picked up a couple but did not play every game. It must also be said that it’s hard to get a run following the pace quartet.
The USA were well drilled in the field and were well led by skipper Sindhu Sriharsha behind the stumps. The only downside for the team would be the batting – enough to eclipse their opponents in this series but will need to improve for the global qualifiers.
Easily the best fielding unit in the tournament and not far off being the best bowling outfit. Indeed, sixteen year old Laura Cardoso was named bowler of the tournament. Her final over against Canada where the team took five consecutive wickets and in the middle of two runouts, Laura took a hat-trick is a testimony to her skill. She was the leading wicket taker with 11 wickets at 4.54 runs per wicket.
Also shining with the ball for Brazil was right-arm pacer Nicole Monteiro whose off-cutters were a real problem for opposition batters and she improved with every game, taking 8 wickets at 5.87 average. Off-break bowler Lara Moises was another who bowled well for Brazil giving the ball lovely flight.
This Brazil team is so well drilled in the field and led capably by captain Roberta Avery whose skill at short cover or point was outstanding and it was of no surprise that she was named fielder of the tournament. As if to emphasise just how good the team performs in the field, the wicket keeper, Evelyn de Souza was named wicket keeper of tournament.
While they cleaned up with both ball and in the field, Brazil’s batters struggled on the turf wicket, a surface they are not used to as they don’t have a turf wicket back home. This will need to change for the batters bravely stood tall but at the same time stood still, for they could not consistently penetrate the field. That said, the team finished second, and their only two losses came against the USA.
Despite having only played three T20 Internationals prior to this tournament – and even then, back in 2019 – there is a lot to like about this team and they will only improve with more opportunities to perform at international level.
Only one player in the entire tournament passed 100 runs and that Divya Saxena, Canada’s opener. Divya scored 180 runs at 60.00 at a strike rate of 86.12. To put that in perspective, next best was USA’s Gargi Bhogle with 95 runs at 23.75. Little wonder that Divya was named batter of the tournament. She had few friends on her own team however and the batting is something Canada will be keen to work on, as well as the running between wickets.
Canada’s best with the ball was Hala Azmat who bowled her off-breaks outstandingly and was used cleverly by the captain, Kamna Mirchandani. in their second game against the USA, Hala took 4-15 after opening the bowling. The USA batters struggled against both the spin and the accuracy. It was a command performance by Hala.
In any tournament there is always a team that must finish last and so it was for Argentina in this series but there are plenty of positives for this team to take away.
The lowest ebb was being bowled out for 12 by Brazil, a calamity by any standards and indeed the lowest total ever recorded by the team, but the strength from these situations is how you come back from that and their performance the following day against the USA showed that this team has great courage and character.
Wides and no-balls will be key areas to work on – indeed, that game against the USA they gave 41 extras – if they can trim those away from their game they are looking good. In Mariana Martinez they have a genuinely quick bowler. In Alison Stocks they have a solid allrounder.
Like the other teams in the tournament, Argentina has had little to no time on turf wickets. Indeed, little to no time playing cricket through the pandemic. With a little clear air, Veronica Vasquez and her team have plenty to work with into the future.
* Photo: (c) Peter Della Penna/USA Cricket