Even though cricket is played or followed by more than a billion people all over the world, Boston has not seen much of it. Thanks to the MIT Cricket Club, which organized its second cricket tournament at MIT from March 14 to March 29, MIT became center stage for some exciting rounds of cricket. The tournament was the club’s first ever indoor tournament, with matches held in the Johnson Athletic Center. It was sponsored by the Students Activities Office, the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education, and the International Students Organization.
The success of the previous tournament caused several universities and clubs in the New England area to express interest in cricket at MIT. The inaugural indoor tournament had six teams competing: Yale University, Boston University, Babson College, the Burlington Cricket Club, and two teams from MIT — the MIT Green team and the MIT Blue team.
The tournament was divided into two rounds: the first round was in the round-robin format, where each team played each of the others once. On the basis of the points from this first round, the top two teams were to qualify for the finals. Each match was of twelve overs per innings, each side consisted of nine players.
Right from the start, the matches were extremely close. In the first match of the tournament, MIT Blue defeated BU by a margin of just 9 runs. The second match, MIT Green vs. Babson, was equally thrilling, with MIT emerging victorious by 12 runs. The two closest matches of the tournament were MIT Green vs. BU, and MIT Blue vs. MIT Green. MIT Green won the former by two runs having to defend a score of 65.
The latter concluded with a heart-stopping last ball finish, in which MIT Blue finally won by 2 wickets. In this match, owing to MIT Green’s unexpected conquest of Babson and MIT Blue’s collapse against the same foes, the match represented a literal knockout bout for the Blues. MIT Green won the toss and expectedly batted first; they posted a great total of 78 in 12 overs. Blue suffered an early loss of their best batsman in the first over of the chase. However, the moment brought out the best in the leadership of the Blues, with captain Ankur Sinha G and vice-captain Vivek Jaiswal G playing match-winning roles. After their dismissal leading to a few nervous overs, MIT Blue slid over the finishing line. The match reinvigorated the tournament, and symbolized a victory for the MIT Cricket Club as a whole.
At the end of the first round, three teams, Babson College, MIT Green, and MIT Blue shared the top spot with 4 wins and 1 loss each. To decide which teams would advance to the finals, the organizers had to resort to calculating the Net Run Rate, determined by formulae based on the number of runs conceded, the number of runs scored, number of balls faced, and the number of balls bowled in all the matches.
The finals of the tournament were a best of three match-up between MIT Green and Babson College.
Babson entered the contest as the pre-tournament favorites. Moreover, owing to injury to key players, MIT Green faced an uphill task in countering Babson’s arsenal of pace and power.
The best-of-three finals format was designed to identify the truly better outfit among the competing teams, rewarding lasting consistency over fortuitous moments. Babson made full use of their acquired advantage of batting first in both finals by posting huge scores that eventually wore down MIT Green’s batsmen. They posted a record score of 94 runs in their allotted 12 overs, courtesy their premier hitters, Ronak Singh and Vishal Mehta. In reply, MIT Green had one man, Ishaan Chugh ’12, taking on an entire battery of fast bowlers. Through Ishaan’s exquisite strokeplay, and the indomitable spirits of a few others, MIT Green slashed and hustled their way to within 12 runs of Babson’s total, thereby playing their part in the highest scoring match of the tournament, and delivering a fitting finale.
The second final, played on the immediate wake of the first, followed a very similar script, with Babson’s batsmen posting a handy score of 75 that proved too much for MIT Green once Babson dislodged Chugh early. Although MIT Green reached a respectable total of 61 in 12 overs, the tournament belonged to Babson, the deserving candidates.
The tournament had several unique features owing largely to its indoor venue. Because of this, boundaries had to be determined, standards such as leg before wicket (LBW) dismissals and leg-bye runs had to be modified, and special rules had to be outlined for cases such as the ball hitting the ceiling. The taped tennis ball that was used in the tournament is characteristic of the MIT Cricket Club. The standard cricket ball, made of leather, is not used since it bounces too high on the surface and can injure players with its hardness and bounce. The organizers chose taped tennis balls after experimenting with many different kinds of balls.
The MIT Cricket Club plans organize more events in the future and hopes to involve more people in cricket at MIT. According to Sinha, president of the MIT Cricket Club, “The goal of the club now is to provide a healthy ambience for cricket, and provide opportunities for cricket enthusiasts to learn the game. The club would also hold bilateral cricket series with clubs and universities in the area. It is spring time, and during summer, we will be moving outdoors to play cricket on the turf.”
Chugh, the highest scorer of the tournament as well as a member of the squash team, says that “the tournament was a refreshing change from the phenomenal academic life that MIT has to offer.”
Senior members of the club recognize that the tournament would not have been possible without the vision and efforts of President Sinha and Jaiswal, the other lead organizer. They hope now to hand over the organization of tournaments to the younger talent at MIT, creating opportunities for the young, motivated cricketers at MIT.
The MIT Cricket Club is also undertaking ventures such as free cricket lessons to get more people from the MIT community excited about the sport that they spent their childhood playing.