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TSK win on MLC's opening night

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Last updated on 14 Jul 2023 | 06:17 AM
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TSK win on MLC's opening night

Texas Super Kings delivered a comprehensive performance to beat LA Knight Riders by 69 runs

Major League Cricket got underway in Texas on Thursday, and the most serious attempt yet to establish a domestic competition in the United States provided all the ingredients of a modern Twenty20 league.

Fans at the purpose built cricket stadium, just a 15-minute drive from Dallas Fort Worth airport, were decked out in the yellow shirts of the victorious home side, the Texas Super Kings, and were treated to the familiar sight of big sixes and non-stop action.

The Super Kings won by 69 runs after making 181 for six and then bowling out the Los Angeles Knight Riders for 112.

Any concerns that cricket in America might not be the real deal vanished when the action got under way and the crowd began cheering the big hitting of the home team.

The stadium previously belonged to the now defunct Texas Airhogs minor league baseball club, but since taking over the venue, MLC has spent over $20 million making it cricket-specific.

For viewers watching the TV broadcast, it would have been hard to tell the difference between MLC and the other T20 tournaments that have sprung up around the world.

With international players competing alongside domestic talent from the USA national team, the standard of play was clearly professional and the field and wicket looked up to scratch.

This was in marked contrast to many previous short-lived attempts to "break the American market" with one-off events in unsuitable venues, and was also light years away from much of the domestic cricket, which for years was played on matting tracks.

After being put to bat first, TSK lost their skipper early for a golden duck. Devon Conway then took over with Lahiru Milantha, who took his time to get going. Ali Khan then ensured that Milantha didn't accelerate much by scalping his wicket in the final over of the powerplay.

Donning the Super Kings' yellow for the first time, David Miller then went berserk in the middle overs with boundaries all over the ground. Spinners, pacers, no one were spared. Conway also ably supported Miller from the other end with a 36-ball-fifty. In a bid to up the ante, he got out very next ball to Adam Zampa. However, TSK now had an excellent platform to build on. 

Lockie Ferguson then got Miller out with two overs to spare, and it seemed like LAKR had put the breaks on the TSK's innings. Mitchell Santner and Dwayne Bravo ensured nothing like that happened as they stole 30 runs in the last two overs to help their team post a healthy 181. 

The veteran Rusty Theron then came to the party as he dismissed Martin Guptill and the dangerous Rilee Roussouw in the very first over, pegging the LAKR chase back very early. Calvin Savage and Gerald Coetzee chipped in with a wicket each from the opposite end to have the Knight Riders at 20/4 after four overs. 

Yet again, a Knight Riders franchise needed a Russell special to bail them out. While he did deliver by smashing a few boundaries along with Jasakaran Malhotra, ensuring LAKR ended the powerplay with a decent haul. Unfortunately, they had lost a few too many wickets. 

He added 47 for the sixth wicket with Sunil Narine to lead LAKR's recovery. In came Mohammad Mohsin. The leg-spinner took the last four wickets for practically nothing as LAKR collapsed from 103/5 to 112/10 in a space of 18 balls.

Texas' South African bowler Rusty Theron was taken aback by the success of the opening game.

"I am actually a little bit emotional, to be honest. This is such a grand event. There was an unbelievable atmosphere and I want to thank each and every individual who has come out here," he said.

Super Kings batsman David Miller, who was awarded Player of the Match, for his hard-hitting 61 from 42 balls, including four sixes, was also impressed.

"It's fantastic to see such a great turn out and the facilities have been fantastic. I think there have been a few guys, kind of questioned around what it was going to be like but it shot the lights out here," said the South African, one of a number of players with a background in the world's top Twenty20 competition, the Indian Premier League (IPL).

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