An unbroken 101-run partnership between Fahad Babar and Nicholas Standford carried USA to an eight-wicket win over Suriname on Monday at Indianapolis World Sports Park. Standford was named Man of the Match for his 64 not out off 49 balls, a career best in a USA uniform for the 27-year-old New York City transit worker.
"I took a year off from cricket, work related, so it's been difficult coming back to train and trying to make it back to the USA team and actually score some runs when I'm here now," Standford told ESPNcricinfo after the match. Prior to this event, he last played for USA in their 2013 ICC Americas T20 championship squad and was one of four players in the team to score more than 100 runs for the tournament but had to withdraw his availability for that year's World T20 Qualifier in Dubai due to work.
"Training and stuff you have to do in the mornings before work," Standford said. "It's been a lot of sacrifice but I'm happy I'm here and scoring runs again."
Standford joined Babar at the crease in the second over after USA stumbled to 6 for 2 chasing Suriname's first innings total of 106 for 8. A promotion for Steven Taylor back to the top of the order failed to have the desired effect and the powerful left-hander fell for 1 chipping a leading edge to mid-on while Akeem Dodson's forward defense was pierced by offspinner Gavin Singh for a duck in the following over.
After a single to get off the mark, Standford drove the medium pace of Carlton Baker straight back down the ground twice in the third over for a pair of boundaries. Two overs later he took the sting out of Suriname's bowling unit by punishing left-arm spinner Sauid Drepaul for back-to-back fours.
A one-handed leaping chance at square leg was put down with Babar on 19 but otherwise Suriname's bowling attack hardly troubled either player in the same manner the South American squad had done to Canada on the first morning of the tournament. Standford brought up his 50 off 42 balls and went on to hit the winning run with a single clipped through square leg to take USA to the target with 6.1 overs to spare. Babar finished 35 not out a day after recording an unbeaten 78 against Bermuda.
Suriname won the toss and elected to bat first, and nearly made it through the power play unscathed. They reached 35 in the sixth over before Muneshwar Patandin tried to flick to the on side and was bowled through the gate by Karan Ganesh for 20. Wasim Akram was just short of his crease calling through Shazam Ramjohn for an attempted run to short third man but Babar collected and fired accurately to Taylor over the stumps to make it 51 for 2. Suriname's best hope for a competitive score was dashed when Drepaul was bowled for 1 by Muhammad Ghous playing a casual flick.
Ganesh switched ends for the 12th over to bowl from the north and produced two more wickets to sink Suriname further to 61 for 5 after 11 overs. Ramjohn's stay ended for a top score of 24 when he top edged a paddle sweep to Danial Ahmed at fine leg before Troy Dudnath was trapped in front two balls later playing across the line for a golden duck. Ganesh finished with 3 for 17 and is USA's leading wicket-taker with five in two games thus far.
The lower order was outclassed by legspinner Timil Patel, who put forward another tremendous display to finish with 2 for 16 in his four overs. Mohinder Boodram and Arun Gokoel were both cleverly stumped by Taylor off Patel after overbalancing on forward prods.
Suriname will take on Bermuda in the afternoon game at the IWSP on Tuesday with both teams searching for their first win while USA takes on Canada at 10am in a battle of the unbeaten. Both teams only have four players remaining from the starting elevens they used the last time they squared off against each other, a USA five-wicket win at the 2013 World T20 Qualifier in Abu Dhabi, and Standford says the freshness of the current squads should make it an entertaining affair.
"We got a chance to see them bowl today the 13 overs they had to bowl. We didn't get a chance to see them bat yesterday nor today," Standford said. "It's going to be relatively new. We have some new players. It should be an even contest tomorrow. Once we play our cricket, we'll beat anyone on the day."