The weekend of April 4th and 5th saw eighteen cricket teams from the South east congregate at the Terrell Mill Park in Marietta to battle for the ‘A.I.D Cricket for India Cup 2009’. The tournament was a fundraising event organized and hosted by the Atlanta chapter of the Association for India’s Development (A.I.D), a non-profit organization committed to supporting sustainable development projects in India in areas like literacy, primary health and livelihood generation. Mayank Mishra, A.I.D Fundraising Coordinator, and A.I.D volunteer Tarun Chugh, organized the fundraiser along with help from fellow volunteers.
The teams that participated included not only the crème-de la-crème of the cricketing fraternity in Atlanta like the Alpharetta Monsters, Predators, ACC, Purple Bulls, Georgia Tigers and the Seahawks, but also providing strong competition were teams from Greenville, SC and Chattanooga, TN.
The first day of the tournament saw a round robin contest between the eighteen teams, each vying for the privilege of going into the next day of knockout matches with the confidence of two wins adding a spring to their stride. The early matches set the tone for the rest of the day, with every team and participant not willing to cede an inch to their opponents. As the day wore on, if anything, the rivalries on the field sharpened, spurring feats of bravado from the players who went on six-hitting sprees and did not mind throwing themselves around to save runs for their team.
An overcast sky on the second day did nothing to dampen the spirit that was carried over from the previous day. The Greenville Giants, Seahawks, ACC and the Alpharetta Monsters made the semi-finals. The final came down to a battle of wills between the veteran champions, the Alpharetta Monsters and the underdogs, the Greenville Giants. Both teams alternately seemed to gain an edge over the other, as the game swung wildly one way to the other. The Monsters, batting first, made up for the early loss of wickets by posting a defendable score of 73 off 10 overs. The Giants put up a valiant effort to score 65 off 10 overs as the calm self-assurance of the Monsters ensured that the total was always a tough ask for the outsiders.
Joshua and Bala from the Greenville Giants won the ‘Best Batsman’ and ‘Best Bowler’ awards while Venkat Pokkuluri from the Alpharetta Monsters bagged the ‘Most sixes’ and ‘Best Fielder’ awards. Sirish Vallabhu from the Alpharetta Monsters won the ‘Man of the Finals’ award for taking 4 wickets in the final which helped keep the Giants at bay at several crucial junctures in the match. The ‘Man of the Tournament’ award went to Krishna D. from the Seahawks for his consistent performances with both the bat and the ball throughout the tournament.
Naushad Bhamani, Captain of the Alpharetta Monsters, complimented A.I.D for their professionalism and impartiality, and promised to return to the tournament next year. Jasmine Yu, A.I.D-Atlanta’s chapter coordinator, thanked all participants for their support and assured them that the cricket fundraiser would be an annual event showcasing the cricketing talent of Atlanta and the south east.