For the past two seasons the most high profile rivalry in WCL has been between Virginia and Tigers.  What makes this rivalry special? Well, there are several factors. Three keys among them are a) Both teams have been very good and have played meaningful games, both during the regular season and in the playoffs; b) key players from both teams hate each other c) These are the two best teams in WCL and covet the championship trophy. All of these factors are important ingredients in any rivalry. If we were to compare this at the professional level, the rivalries between Redskins and Cowboys, NY Yankees and Boston Red Socks come to mind. The teams genuinely hate each other and this makes for a compelling matchup.

I will go on record and say that there is nothing wrong with hating another team. It’s a personal choice and if it helps a team play better against the opposition, more power to them. Sportsmanship does not require you to like the opposition. It only requires that you play fair. I have no doubt that both these teams will give their best and play a fair game. If not, umpires will make sure that they do. The word is that the game will be played under the watchful eyes of Nikhil Deshpande and Ram Raghu.

What interests me about this matchup, besides the heated rivalry? Well, there are several things: Tigers have been winning most of their games with their bowling. Virginia knows this well. Their strategy will be to make sure that they keep wickets in hand and not let Imran and Daniyal do too much damage. Then they will target all other bowlers. Tigers rely on preventing boundaries and frustrating the batsmen. Virginia players are stroke players and like to hit freely. This is where the game will be decided. If Virginia can get off a few boundaries, how will that impact Tigers’ strategy? Tigers do not want to have to chase a score in excess of 200. Tigers have traditionally been poor chasers. They would much prefer to bat first, put up a score and defend it. This team bats and bowls better when it bats first and bowls second. Virginia wants to take this away. They want to win the toss, put up 200 runs and then make Virginia deal with the pressure. That said, if Tigers do have to bat second they have a couple of batsmen who bat well under pressure. Zaheer Abassi is a cool cat and actually bats better when batting second. Virginia will be targeting him when he comes to bat. I expect lots of verbal volleys thrown his way from all quarters when he comes in to bat. They will try to unsettle him and force him to play false shots. Akeem Dodson and Junaid Rasheed batting together is a HUGE deal for Tigers. These two guys are top quality runners. They have the ability to put so much pressure on the opposition and throw the bowler off rhythm. Virginia does not want these guys batting together. They want Akeem out early so that there is no possibility of this partnership.

When Virginia is batting, the focus will be on Bartley, Andy and Sarav. These guys know how to play long innings. If Tigers can keep these three from staying on the wicket for a long period of time, Tigers will be well placed to win this game. Virginia wants two of these three to play at least 25 overs. If that happens, they have other batsmen who can give them quick runs.

Now let’s talk about Virginia’s bowling attack. Tigers get a lot of recognition for their bowling, and rightly so, but Virginia’s bowling attack is no slouch. Ramkishan has been bowling extremely well and is a wicket taker. He will be ably supported by Adam Sanford, Bartley, Asif and Andy. If Tigers have to chase 200+, these bowlers will be hard to tackle.

In no other game this weekend is winning the toss as important. I believe, if Tigers win the toss they give themselves a GREAT chance to win. If they do not, Virginia is the favorite. This is going to be a fun encounter and I hope it lives up to the expectations. I think Virginia has a slight edge due to their experience and it is because of this slight edge, I pick them to win. Pick: Virginia.

 

In closing, I will say that this game will have a long term impact on WCL for next year, and beyond. If Tigers lose this game, expect them to double their effort with players from around the country to win next year. If Virginia loses, this team will be scary good next year with extremely high caliber players descending on Washington.

 

Vikings vs Boyds @Metro: This game has been under the radar due to the limelight on the other game. And the funny thing is that this suits both these teams. Neither of these two teams is flamboyant and they try to go about their job in a matter-of-fact way. Boyds’ batsmen have been in good form and will back themselves to do well here.  The team practiced at Metro to get acclimated to the conditions and this should help them. However, no amount of practice prepares you for the opposition as they didn’t practice against Vikings’ bowling attack. So what are my overall impressions? I think Boyds is a better batting team and Vikings the better bowling team. So this is where this contest will be decided. I do not expect Waleed to be able to just tee-off in this game as he did last week vs Dulles. He will have to curb his aggression and prepare himself to play a long innings. If he is unable to do so, advantage goes to Boyds. If he can bat 20 overs, he will give the team enough runs and allow other batsmen to bat around him to put up a good score.  Danish, Ankit, Adil and Roshan are the key batsmen for Boyds. Vikings know this. Danish and Ankit are aggressive players and will give chances. Vikings will need to claim those chances. Roshan will be tasked to play the anchor innings. It will be interesting to see where Roshan bats. He has been up and down the batting order and has done well at several positions. Adil needs to bat his normal game and if he bats 15+ overs, the team will be in a very strong position.

Going back to Vikings’ batting, Waleed, Nail and Ammar will be batting together. These three combined need to bat 30 overs. If this happens, Vikings will win this game. If this does not happen, Boyds will be the favorites.

So who will win this game? I think it’s a tough call and the game is very close. However, I will give a slight edge to Boyds. Pick: Boyds.


 

1 Comment

  1. Sri says:

    Great analysis, Anu bhai, but your last statement for VA Tigers game, lot of high caliber players will descend on Washington makes me think, who else are we going to see come play for these two teams. Lets hope the best team wins.

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