MIAMI (Diya TV) — One of India’s most storied cricket franchises have arrived stateside in an effort to popularize the sport on U.S. soil — the squad will square off in a match against West Indies, the current T20 champions.
The occasion marks the first time competitive international cricket has been played in the U.S., an initiative put forth by the collaborative efforts of India’s Board of Cricket Control and the West Indies Cricket Board.
India-West Indies is a world-class match-up, and local cricket aficionados are hopeful this weekend’s games are indicative that baseball’s older cousin is gaining a foothold in South Florida’s crowded sports scene.
“If you’re a cricket fan, this is what you dream of watching, especially if you are a resident of the United States. You rarely get games of this nature outside of the cricketing nations,” said Jamaican-born Mark Johnson, a long-time Broward County resident who played for the U.S. national team. “People from around the world will be tuned in just to see the guys that they see on TV day to day. We’ll be able to see them live in person.”
India, who recently emerged victorious in a set against West Indies in the Caribbean in Test cricket, the purest form of the game, are currently ranked No. 2 behind New Zealand in T20. Despite their reigning champion status, West Indies are ranked No. 3.
Unlike Test cricket matches, which can sometimes last for days at a time, T20 matches are contested in roughly three hours.
“India is like a rock a star of cricket. It’s a unique opportunity,” said Rizwan Mohammed, of Parkland, who grew up playing the game in his native India and at 49 still competes in a South Florida league. “I’ve been living in this country for 28 years and it’s the first time that I’ve had the opportunity for the rock star to come play in front of you.”
On their day off, the Indian Cricket Team decided to test their skills in a more popular American sport — basketball.
With the NBA’s Miami Heat playing host, members of the cricket team — Ravichandran Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar — participated in a shoot-around with Tyler Johnson and Briante Weber of the Heat.
“It was great to see these guys and learn about their game. I was impressed with the facilities here and it was a learning experience for me to see the amount of technology being used in sports science,” Kumar said.
They were taken around the locker room, gymnasium and the recuperation center before indulging in a brief bout of play between the five of them.
Shikhar and Bhuvneshwar were chatting up with the hosts, while Ashwin seemed to have gone back to his school days of playing basketball.
“I’ve played a bit of Basketball during my school days so that got me really excited while I tried my hand again after so many years. I am thankful to both Weber and Johnson for taking time out and showing us around their home turf,” Ashwin said.
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) August 24, 2016
Believe it or not, there are a surplus of ex-pats from cricket-playing nations in South Florida who get the appeal. For U.S.-bred sports fans, cricket is largely an enigma with recognition limited to the game being sort of like baseball.
While soccer is widely observed as the undisputed sport of the world, cricket often ranks second or third of the lists of most nations, ahead or after basketball. Cricket itself is deeply rooted in the sports history and fabric of the U.S. as well — the sport’s very first international contest was played between the U.S. and Canada in the 1800s.
That match, in Manhattan, N.Y., in 1844, is recognized as the first sporting competition between nations in modern times by various sources, including the Smithsonian, more than 50 years before the rebirth of the Olympics. There were about 10,000 spectators with considerable wagering on the outcome. The U.S. won 165-42.
Further, evidence exists to suggest cricket was played in Colonial America as early as the 1700s. It was a popular game among the troops at Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War, there even exist accounts of George Washington himself being a cricketer.
The preference didn’t turn to baseball until after the Civil War, cricket took hold elsewhere, mainly in places with historical ties to the British Empire.
The principals of cricket are simple — score runs by batting the ball. The ball, which is pitched or bowled on a bounce, moves toward a batter at the same speed an MLB pitcher hurls. Instead of four bases there are two wickets bracketing a rectangular 22-yard-long dirt pitch at the center of an oval ground.
The 11 fielders on defense have a multitude of options to get batters out, including striking the wicket behind the batsman with a bowled ball or catching a batted ball on the fly. The batsman remains in his position until he’s retired, or dismissed, and as displayed by the match between the U.S. and Canada, runs can accumulate quickly if he or she gets on a roll.
The International Cricket Council aren’t sure what to expect by bringing the game to the U.S., however, they hope to grow the game in the States regardless. Evolution for USA Cricket faces several hurdles as the team was suspended by the ICC more than a year ago. Although allegations of wrongdoing have not been substantiated, the sanction has not been lifted.
Jignesh Pandya to spend $2.4 billion on 8 U.S. cricket stadiums
SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — Indian-American cricket enthusiast and businessman Jignesh Pandya announced he plans to build eight cricket stadiums across the U.S., which will cost an estimated $2.4 billion, to help professionalize the sport in the states.
The Gujarat-born real estate developer wants to see stadiums go up in New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Georgia, Florida, Texas, Illinois and California. Construction of the stadiums will create nearly 20,000 jobs, Pandya, chairman of Global Sports Ventures, said.
Each venue will seat 26,000, he added. The Pennsylvania-based Global Sports Ventures will also sign a $70 million licensing agreement with the United States of American Cricket Association (USACA), the body’s first step in growing and popularizing the sport in the U.S.
Pandya has been spanning the globe with his two sons, the trio have spent countless hours seeking out the world’s best live cricket matches. During their travels, Pandya said he noticed most of the spectators to be either Indian or American. This has led him to believe there is more of a desire for the sports in the states than meets the eye.
“So there is a great market and readymade audience for cricket in the U.S.,” he told The Press Trust of India.
The stadiums, Pandya said, will be built into complexes that already include high-rise condominiums, shopping and entertainment centers as well as commercial office space. His ultimate goal, however, is to create and foster a professional cricket league that allows athletes to compete at the highest levels of the sport.
“This will be a strong foundation when the International Cricket Council hosts any tournaments in line with its strategic framework for USA cricket, potentially hosting the ICC World Twenty 20 in 2024,” he said.
Ravichandran Ashwin seals series win for India over England
SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — England subsided to an innings-and-36-run defeat on the final day of the fourth Test in Mumbai as India swiftly sealed a series victory, thanks in large part to the efforts of batsman Ravichandran Ashwin.
India resumed play with a hefty scoreline of 182-6, but England’s final four wickets fell in 48 balls, with Ashwin taking 6-55 for match figures of 12-167.
It is the third time a Test side have made 400 or more in the first innings of the match and lost by an innings. India now lead the series 3-0 with one match to play, and have now won five consecutive series. Ranked No. 1 in the world, India are now unbeaten in 18 matches on their home pitch, winning 15 of those in a run that dates back to England’s 2-1 series win in 2012.
For England manager Alastair Cook, it equals his fourth defeat in five matches and his side’s seventh loss of the year. Having already lost seven, England could match their 12-month worst of eight losses in the fifth and final Test match, which begins in Chennai on Friday.
While it was batting collapses that cost England during defeats in the second and third Tests, the most recent match was a pure display of being outclassed by the other side, something that was further enhanced by Cook’s poor squad selection.
Of the traveling squad, off-spinner Gareth Batty had a poor third Test, left-arm spinner Liam Dawson was uncapped and batsmen Gary Ballance and Ben Duckett were out of form. England’s selection problems became compiled with on-field errors — after winning the toss, England found themselves 220-2 but lost their last eight wickets for 180 runs.
With chosen spinners Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali disappointing, England failed to capitalize on chances off Virat Kohli, Murali Vijay and Jayant Yadav, who made a double century and two hundreds between them as India racked up a massive 631.
Watch what happens when Liam Thomas looses his prosthetic leg on the cricket field
NEW YORK (Diya TV) — English cricketer Liam Thomas made definition of remaining calm and collected after losing his prosthetic leg while playing in the final of a tournament for people with physical disability in Dubai last week.
The 22-year-old played for the England Physical Disabilities team in a match against Pakistan back on Oct. 24 when his leg got loose and began flying across the pitch.
“It just happened, really. I was sprinting for the ball, put my hand out, hit the deck hard and the next thing I know I stood up and had no leg,” Thomas said. “I didn’t know whether to grab the leg or get the ball in. I decided to go for the ball.”
He would later blame the smothering Dubai heat for the occurrence, saying it caused the socket to expand, ultimately causing it to loosen.
Thomas, who was born with a disability, said his teammates would later thank him for his gregarious play and enjoyed his effort. “Having a disability, we all take the fun out of each other a little bit, we all have each others’ backs, so we are all trying to give each other grief when something like that happens,” he said.
Despite his fight and gregarious play, England would lose the match by three wickets. Thomas said he hopes the attention his performance is receiving helps raise the profile of the sport.
The England and Wales Cricket Board supports a multitude of teams, including the Physical Disabilities team, teams for people who are visually impaired, for people with learning disabilities, and for people who are deaf.
Thomas, who works for the local water service near his home in Bradford, England, urges disabled people to get involved in sports. “Don’t be afraid, no matter what sport it is,” he said.
“Never in a million years would I have thought I would be touring Dubai, playing cricket, doing something I love. It’s just not something you think a disabled person would do, but being involved in disabled sport allows you access to do stuff like that.”
Information from CNN contributed to this report.
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