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USA celebrate T20 World Cup debut in style with stirring victory over Canada
Cricket Sport

USA celebrate T20 World Cup debut in style with stirring victory over Canada

Build it, and they will come. The great American cricket experiment got under way on Saturday night, when USA beat Canada by seven wickets in the opening match of the T20 World Cup at the little ground in Grand ­Prairie, Texas. And hell’s bells if it wasn’t, in its own little way, one of the game’s great occasions.

A crowd of around 5,000 were treated to a brilliantly free­wheeling innings by USA’s Aaron Jones, a pocket-rocket batsman who was born in Queens and raised in ­Barbados. Jones clobbered 10 sixes, one of them clean out of the ground, in an undefeated innings of 94 off just 40 balls.

It was an achievement to get the match on at all. A mini tornado ripped through here last Tuesday. It took out one of the giant screens and ripped out a stretch of the heavy metal railings around the ground. There had been four days of torrential rain and flash floods since, and a lot of the surrounding towns have been without power.

The small team of staff have since been working around the clock, and the entire ground is being powered by temporary generators. But in the end the only real hitch was that they could have shifted a few more tickets. The high prices meant there were a few too many empty seats.

The people who did turn up enjoyed a real treat. USA were heavy favourites given that they had recently won a series against Canada 4-0, and another against ­Bangladesh 2-1, but their bowlers seemed to be experiencing a few first-night nerves. Canada rattled off 40 runs from the opening four overs after being put in to bat. Their opener Aaron ­Johnson thrashed Muhammad Ali Khan’s very first ball for four. He scored three more in four balls of Khan’s second over, with four more in byes off a bouncer that ricocheted off his helmet.

Johnson was caught at long-off but his opening partner, Navneet ­Dhaliwhal, pressed on. He walloped the first six of the tournament off the former India under-19 player Harmeet Singh.

A crowd of around 5,000 people turned out for the World Cup opener in Dallas.View image in fullscreen

Dhaliwhal was joined by ­Nicholas Kirton in an entertaining 62-run stand for the fourth wicket. Kirton, who has quick hands and a handsome drive, collared a couple of crisp sixes over cover. Corey Anderson had Dhaliwhal caught at long-off with the first ball he bowled. Still, Kirton went on to make 51, and Canada’s total of 194 looked pretty daunting.

Especially when USA were 40 for one after the first six overs, with opener Steven Taylor out lbw to the second ball of the innings. But that only brought in Jones. He put on 131 for the third wicket with Andries Gous.

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Jones’s fifty came off just 22 balls. It was ferocious going, and it rattled Canada. The game turned in the 14th over, when they brought their fast bowler Jeremy Gordon back into the attack. His first two overs cost only 11, but his third was studded with three sixes, two fours, three wides, and a catch off a no ball, and went for 33. USA romped home from there.

So there were a few more ­Stetsons in the crowd, a heap more smoked brisket on sale, the stadium announcer had a southern twang, and if you looked hard enough there were one or two clues around the ground fit for the occasion, like the scoreboard listing the “balls” and “strikes” hanging from the balcony, and the ­Spanish translations on the signage (“Este Alerta! Cuidado con las pelotas!”). Mainly, though, it will just go down as a great game of T20 cricket, lit up by Jones’s extraordinary batting.

Source: theguardian.com