By Liam Glass | WVUGo Staff Writer
Just over a week ago, the WVU Club Cricket team defeated the NJIT Highlanders to win the 2019 American College Cricket National Championship. This championship is the biggest achievement a university cricket team can earn in the United States. The Mountaineers returned from the tournament in Lauderhill, Florida with decisive victories over the University of Maryland, Northeastern University, University of Alabama Huntsville and Virginia Tech.
In order to qualify for the quarterfinals, the team had to win their division in three matches. They beat Virginia Tech and UA Huntsville. However, they fell to last year’s champion, Ryerson University, in a close score of 139/6 to 140/5. With the two massive wins they earned beforehand, including defeating Virginia Tech by 100 runs, the team qualified for a “wild card” placement while having the best Net Run Rate in the competition after the five division champions.
“We had the best batting strength I’ve seen at WVU in seven years,” said WVU captain Sai Satish Guda. “Every piece came together for us, but our batting was fantastic.”
After qualifying, WVU took down Northeastern University by a score of 152/3 to 146/7 in the quarterfinal. WVU All Rounder Sohail Choundary led the team with 44 runs in the match. They then went on to beat the University of Maryland by 5 wickets to earn a placement in the championship.
After a grueling road to the finals involving back-to-back matches of three hours or longer, WVU made it to the finals. On Sunday, March 17th, WVU took down NJIT by a score of 178/7 to 177/8 to win the championship. Raj Shekhar stunned the crowd and changed the game with his 79 runs in the match. “The feeling was surreal. Being able to bring home the best we can do to West Virginia felt like a dream,” said Guda.
It was not an easy road to the finals for WVU’s Club Cricket team. “Finances became a problem for us early on. At one point in the season we had five core players headed to the tournament, which would have kept us from competing.” Guda kept telling his team to “focus on the sport” and that “everything else will come together later.” He also spoke to the adversity his team faced in the tournament. “People consider a skilled roster to be 11 experienced guys. We went into the tournament with three rookies out of 12 players, one of them being only 17 years old.”
Guda hopes to bring the championship trophy to WVU President Gordon Gee’s office in the near future. “We don’t feel like we play for the team. We are the team. The passion and respect, the celebration of each other’s success we enjoy, we think of ourselves like a family. The Mountaineer spirit and its values are just so different.”
The championship match was recorded by Sony TV, and will be broadcasted on Sling TV soon. The team is considering a watch party for the event to celebrate their success. They are currently seeking an independent practice field from the university to sustain their success.
The WVU 2019 American College Cricket National Champions are:
Sai Satish, Deepesh, Sohail, Raj Shekhar, Rahul, Akhil, Ashish, Anudeep, Vignesh, Moiz, Mayank, and Sarthak