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Vibha Cup raises $50,000 at its 10th Anniversary

June 2008
Vibha Cup raises $50,000 at its 10th Anniversary

With the Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament taking center stage in the cricket world, a revolution is taking place in the way cricket is played and enjoyed. It is only this past year, since India captured the T20 World Cup, that most of India started taking notice of this abridged version of the game that one could enjoy in a matter of three hours. The Vibha Cup held on the Georgia Tech University SAC field, is an even shorter version of the game: just 10 overs a side and 8 players a team – which makes it even more fast paced and exciting.

Vibha is a non-profit organization serving underprivileged children. The Atlanta chapter, formed in 1996, has been highly successful in organizing other annual events like the DreamMile 5K Walk and Run, a Sports Mela involving indoor sports, and music and entertainment events as well. The Vibha Cup started ten years ago in 1999 had 16 teams and about 100 players in all. For the past 5 years, it has grown to more than 48 teams and greater than 400 players.

What made the 10th year tournament on May 10th even more special was the goal of raising $50,000 – twice the amount from last year. The event managed to not only meet this ambitious goal, but exceed it also. The funds raised from this event will support the annual budgets of two Vibha premier projects – Bhagavatula Charitable Trust (BCT) in Andhra Pradesh and Vidyarambham in Tamilnadu.

48 teams pre-registered for the event. The “Wall of Fame” and “10 years of Nostalgia” posters were of special attraction. Ms. Carolyn Byrd, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of GlobalTech Financial and past President of Coca-Cola Financial Corporation inaugurated the tournament by unveiling the tournament T-shirt. In her remarks, she impressed upon all the players and sponsors to contribute towards the cause and to increase the targets year after year.

With each passing year, the tournament seems to produce more excitement, drama and upsets as well. This year, the ACC provided the most impressive performance by successfully chasing a target of 123 in 10 overs – a tournament record for the highest successful chase. Manjunath Gowda scored an impressive 65 runs, with 6 sixes and 4 fours. There were several impressive feats by bowlers as well including a hat-trick by Senthilkumaran Ramaiyan who booked his page in Vibha cricket record books. The biggest upset of the tournament was the elimination of the Chattanooga Titans, finalists in several previous tournaments, in the very first round.

The intensity of the tournament rose a couple of notches on the third day of the tournament on May 17th, with several teams competing to make it to the quarters and to ensure their berth in the Super-16 tournament to be held on June 14. Having expanded their franchise, Alpharetta Monsters fielded two teams, one consisting of a young, hungry bunch called “Alpharetta Monsters: The Kings” and the other with older but battle-tested stalwarts called “Alpharetta Monsters: The Challengers.” By the end of the day, four teams remained setting the stage for an exciting final day: Alpharetta Monsters: The Kings, Blue Panthers, Predators and the ACC, a new challenger.

The semi-final match between Alpharetta Monsters and ACC was off to a sedate start. Though, the last four overs can only be described as a blitzkrieg, with Akshay Telang of the Monsters sending the ball soaring over the boundary six times, five of them off consecutive balls. The last four overs fetched 85 runs as the Monsters posted an impressive total of 121. ACC made a valiant effort in scoring 102 runs, with their top two batsmen - Manjunath and Aravind getting out.

The second semi-final between The Predators and the reigning champions Blue Panthers was a repeat of several battles from previous tournaments, where the latter prevailed. The Blue Panthers scored a calculated 81 runs. It was the moment of truth for the Predators and with Azim, the best batsman in several previous Vibha tournaments, it was a clear possibility. However, the Blue Panthers exhibited some controlled bowling keeping the Predators on a leash as they allowed them to score only 53.

The finals were between The Alpharetta Monsters and The Blue Panthers. This was a classic cricketing battle, but played in a friendly environment, exemplifying the maturity of the teams and the spirit of the tournament. The Panthers started off at a steady pace, but their efforts to raise a huge total were consistently thwarted by the Monsters with sensible bowling and excellent catching. Having restricted the Panthers to just 82 (Prakash – 25), the Monsters lost an early wicket, but the partnership between Ajay Sundaram and Venkat Pokkuluri worth 55 runs at the required pace steadied the innings. With 17 runs required from the last 12 balls, the excitement reached its peak among the players and the spectators. Venkat, heaved a huge six off the third ball and with quick running between the wickets, finished the match with a whole over to spare. Venkat Pokkuluri who scored a match-winning 39 runs was adjudged the Jaya’s Dental ‘Man-of-the-match’ for the finals.

Congratulating the Monsters, Ninad Patil, captain of Blue Panthers said, “Monsters have always been a strong team to beat and deserved to be the Vibha 2008 Champions. We have played a lot of competitive cricket over the last few years against them and it has always been exciting and passionate cricket. We would like to thank Vibha for providing us an opportunity to play by hosting this event annually for the last 10 years and for raising funds to support the underprivileged children back home.”

Manjunath Gowda from ACC with an aggregate score of 110 runs was adjudged ‘The Hope Dental Best-Batsman” of the tournament. Mujtaba Syed from the Predators was adjudged the ‘Jaya’s Dental Best Bowler’ of the tournament for his final tally of 11 wickets. Deepak Maini from the Panther was adjudged the Hope Dental Man of the Tournament for his overall performance with bat and ball. The “Cool Guys” team was awarded the Special trophy for raising the maximum amount of donations through an online pledge drive. Mrs. Jaya Vallabhaneni from Jaya’s Dental, an Annual Sponsor for Vibha presented the individual trophies.

Commenting on their thrilling victory, Bali Subramanian, the captain of the Alpharetta Monsters said, “This victory was achieved not through individual performances but by working together as a team, very similar to what Srinivas Vemulapalli and his team have been doing for the last 10 years to improve the lives of thousands of underprivileged children in India. We are especially glad to win the 10th edition of the FutureTech Vibha Cricket tournament and thank the organizers, sponsors and volunteers for putting together this wonderful event to support India's future – ‘Her children.’

The Prize distribution ceremony followed, immediately after the finals. Mr. Sravan Vellanki, the Chairman of FutureTech the Title Sponsor for the event thanked all the players and on behalf of all the sponsors, presented the championship trophy to the Alpharetta Monsters.

Srinivas Vemulapalli concluded, “We are very proud of the growth of this tournament over the past ten years and the difference it is able to make in the lives of children through the resources raised. It was only possible because of the support of sponsors, players and the volunteers. We have consistently raised more resources year after year and thank everybody for exceeding the target of $50K from this event”.

~Mallick Huggahalli

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