February 10, 2011

US U19 faces its stiffest challenges in the last two matches

The US U19 team has disposed of the admittedly feeble opposition with efficacy and is now tied for first place with Canada with three wins.  Bermuda which lost to Canada has two wins including a much improved winning performance on Wednesday against the Bahamas.  US takes on Bermuda on Friday in an important match.  If US wins, it is through to the global qualifiers regardless of the outcome of its last match with Canada.  If Bermuda wins and also wins its last match against Argentina which is expected, then US has to beat Canada in its last match and finish ahead of Bermuda on NRR to move forward. If Friday's match is abandoned due to rain which is in the forecast, then US can still go through, even if it loses to Canada, with a better NRR than Bermuda. 

With the exception of Suri, all the front-line bowlers have been given opportunities to get acclimatized as well as perform.  And they have done quite well by making short work of the weak batting lineups they have seen.  Catching and fielding has been fairly good although some chances have been put down.  From a batting standpoint, Mirza and Taylor have scored heavily but the rest of the lineup, notably Joshi, Babar and Jodhbir, have not spent that much time in the middle.   That is a concern as the US middle order may be asked to chase down a total or get enough runs on the board.

The US boys have a lot to play for, that too against a better opposition than they have faced to date.  They should treat it as a "must win" and not "experiment" with their batting and bowling options.  Some would say these are not experiments as much as pressure from USACA power brokers to have a particular combination as well as specific batting and bowling lineups. 

Bermudan players to watch for on recent form are Gilbert, Burgess, Leverock as batsmen and Fubler, Gilbert and Bell as bowlers.  American players to watch for in this key encounter are Taylor, Mirza, and Joshi as batsmen and Shahid, Ahmad and Abdulghani as bowlers.

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