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By Muhammad Asif Khan
Cricket, over the years, has seen a lot of innovations. The game has shrunk to Twenty20 – both teams play maximum of 20 overs each – which is arguably the most attractive format, but the quest to make it more appealing continues and recently the US saw a whole new concept of a T20 game with test match attributes attached to it.
2xCricket (read as two-ten cricket) game is an amalgam of the oldest format, test cricket and the latest, T20 cricket. Out of the contesting couple of teams, one bats for the first 10 overs followed by the other team for the next set of 10 overs. Then the two teams bat for their last ten overs, respectively, as third and fourth innings of the match.
The difference of runs between the two teams after the completion of the first two sets of 10 overs determines the lead of a team – here comes the test-match flavor. The last set of ten overs will determine the winner of the contest. In this segment the teams have to press the paddle exactly like the fastest format, the T20.
Like a Test match, there is ‘follow-on’ as well. If team ‘B’, in its first innings, gets out under 50% of the first innings score of team ‘A’ then ‘follow-on’ can be enforced by the ‘A’ team.
Follow-on means the team with the upper hand can ask the downcast team to start its second innings. In this situation the ‘A’ team will bat in the last innings.
The slight difference between 2XCricket and Test match is that unlike the Test game the team in the second innings resumes its first innings from the same point in terms of the number of wickets. For example if 4 wickets had fallen in the first innings then the same pair of batsmen will resume batting in the second innings.
This new concept was put to test for the very first time and the 2xCricket USA Cup was held at the Moosa Cricket stadium in Pearland, Texas, from November 9 to 13.
Eight teams – Nepali Rhinos, Montgomery Sports Management, Smart Choice Cricket club, Houston Sparks, Florida Underdogs, Pak Punjab, UAE Falcons and Somerset Cavaliers – were divided in two groups.
Florida Underdogs, Nepali Rhinos, Houston Sparks and UAE Falcons qualified for the semi-finals.
The final was played between Nepali Rhinos and Houston Sparks.
Such renowned players as Saeed Ajmal, Kamran Akmal and Shahzeb Hassan were seen in action during the match.
The Sparks put Rhinos into bat after winning the toss, and the Paras Khadka-led outfit managed 73 runs for three wickets. In reply the Sparks scored only one more run, 74-3.
In the second innings the Rhinos cut loose and hammed 124 runs to give Houston Sparks a very stiff target of 124 runs to win.
Shawn Findley and captain Paras stroked blistering knocks of 77 and 61, respectively. Asad Ali and Muhammad Khalil took two wickets apiece.
In their second innings, Houston Sparks were bundled out with 55 more runs to get. Shahzeb Hassan topped the batting chart with 38 runs. Shawn Findlay took three wickets and Paras two.
The vice president of Mitsubishi Motors for North American region, Don Swearingen, presented the trophy to the winning captain besides a purse of $60,250. The runners-up got $17,250.
The tournament was broadcast live on Willow TV, TV One USA and was streamed on youtube and facebook.
The game of cricket is somewhat alien to the Americans but this is what football was about 40 years ago. Therefore, one can hope cricket will slowly and gradually make its mark in the US and with format such as 2xCricket, people will not just get entertained but also get the basic education about the game’s oldest format, Test cricket.
The 2XCricket has an able team in the CEO and Chairman Max Shaukat, COO Sakhi Muhammad, chief broadcasting officer Riaz Babar and Executive director Aiza Irfan which worked day in and day out to transform the unique concept into reality.
The CEO Max Shaukat, an entrepreneur, has wide experience in films production, television and sports operations and management. Sakhi Muhammad has been an active cricket organizer in the USA, owns a state of the art cricket stadium in Pearland, Texas. Riaz Babar has had over two decades of broadcasting experience while Aiza Irfan has produced over 700 hours of television content.