India's sports passion comes to Atlanta as Vibha hosts the Maharaja Cricket Cup
Indians enjoyed some incredible (and mostly sleepless) moments early this year, watching a World Cup that brought India back to the finals after 20 long years.
Such excitement revisited Atlanta at the Maharaja Cricket Cup hosted by Vibha, a charitable organization, on the 3rd, 4th and 10th of May at the SAC fields at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, GA.
The annual cricket event, which is fast becoming Vibha's signature event, brings in participants from all over the Southeast, including teams from South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and of course, Georgia. Vibha Cricket, in its 5th year, has grown from a one weekend event featuring 16 teams and 96 players to a two-weekend event featuring 48 teams and nearly 400 players! The tournament is played using ?hard' tennis balls in knockout format featuring 10 overs per side.
Nail-biting finishes from the first-round to the finals are a hallmark of Vibha Cricket and this year was no exception! In fact the final game had a heart-pounding finish to the very last ball when the Webb Bridge Sixers of Atlanta out-smarted a young team from Cleveland, TN to claim the 2003 championship! The Cleveland team chased a respectable 72 needed of 10 overs and were cheered on by a very boisterous crowd. They lost in spite of needing just 4 runs in the last over when they had four wickets left. The eventual Man-of-the-Match, Kamlesh, was stuck at the non-strikers end on the very last ball, off which they needed just two runs! But then such is the agony of cricket!
In the other semifinal, the Sixers played a very strong and confident team from Georgia Tech. Batting first, the Sixers posted a formidable total of 85, but Ambrish from Georgia Tech who was awarded the best batsman for the tournament, had led his side to victories with some top notch innings in the earlier two rounds, began strongly. Devang and Azim, the eventual Man of the Tournament bowled a tight line and length to get Ambrish and after his dismissal, GT collapsed for just 65, resulting in two highly unexpected finalists.
The tournament this year featured an impressive opening ceremony, with former West Indian Test cricketer, Basil Williams, presiding as the chief guest. Mr. Williams, a swashbuckling opener in the late 70's, had smashed a brilliant century against Aussie greats Lillee and Thomson and an excellent ton in Calcutta against rising star Kapil and Karsan Ghavri. In a short speech, he inspired the players, volunteers and other spectators with some interesting stories about his playing days and his appreciative words on Vibha and their activities.
The Maharajah Cricket Cup is organized by the Atlanta Action Center of Vibha - an 11-year-old, volunteer driven organization with a mission to enable child development. Through action centers in over 15 cities nationwide, their 250 volunteers work to raise awareness in the local community about children's issues and to generate funds for grassroots projects in India.
Speaking at the trophy presentation ceremony, Mr. J.T. Ahluwalia of Maharaja Restaurant said, "I am happy to see this tournament grow so big. Vibha is doing a wonderful job in organizing these fund-raisers for a good cause. We are very proud to be associated with them and we will continue to support them in future." Echoing similar sentiments, Mr. Ramesh Maturi from Pyramid also expressed strong appreciation for Srinivas and all the volunteers of Vibha.
Results of the Maharaja Cricket Tournament:
Webb Ridge Sixers (82/5, Shyam 45, Sanjay 17) beat GT Playboys (65 , Ambrish 21, Devang 4/23)]
Cleveland (51/7, Kamlesh 17, Bavin 22, Bindu 3/11) beat Chattanooga Vols (49, Ravi 18, Keyur 2/14)
Webb Ridge Sixers (71, Sanjay 29, Azim 18, Mitesh 3/18) beat Cleveland (Kamlesh 32*, Shyam 2/3)
[More information on Vibha, its projects, sponsorship information and volunteering opportunities is available at http://atlanta.vibha.org and www.vibha.org.]
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