The U.S. beat Pakistan in cricket in a historic upset. Will the sport finally go mainstream?

Cricket may have finally reached its moment in the United States

The US men’s national cricket team dealt a stunning blow to the heavyweights Pakistan in Texas on Thursday during a surprisingly close T20 World Cup match that went into the equivalent of extra innings.

The group stage match of the tournament, co-hosted by the United States and the West Indies, was played at a former minor league baseball field in the Dallas suburb of Grand Prairie, one of three American stadiums where the tournament will be held. Takes place.

Cricket fans around the world describe the win as one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport. On NPR, Joanna Summers co-hosts All Things Concern It’s like that “Boston Red Sox Lose to Durham Bulls,” the minor league baseball team in North Carolina.

But the historic win does not have the same reception in the United States, where cricket is still considered a very niche sport, played mostly among its compatriots in the Caribbean and South Asia.

“After beating Pakistan and playing for the first time the way we did today, I’m really proud of the players,” said US captain Monank Patel, who was named man of the match.

He said: “Of course, beating Pakistan in the World Cup will open many doors for us.

A fan at Grande Prairie Stadium in Dallas on Thursday.Matt Roberts/ICC via Getty Images

The win over Pakistan is remarkable because the American players, who work for the team part-time and have day jobs, were facing a team that won the T20 World Cup in 2009 and finished second in 2007, the year the team won the T20 World Cup in 2009. The tournament has begun, again in 2022.

Most American players are of South Asian or Caribbean origins, some having previously played in India or the West Indies.

American bowler Saurabh Netravalkar, an engineer at Oracle, has already achieved celebrity status in India, where he previously played for the junior team.

“Proud of the team and our engineering and cricket superstar,” Oracle He said in a post on X.

The US win is good news for the International Cricket Council, which chose it as co-host of the tournament partly in the hope it would spark American interest in the sport. The joint hosting gave the American team an automatic place in the tournament in which it is participating for the first time.

“Now this is the way to grow the game in the United States,” said Michael Vaughan, former captain of the England cricket team, He said in a post on X After the defeat of Pakistan.

At such a historic moment, few Americans had seen it. The match was not broadcast on American television, and the stadium can only accommodate about 7,000 people.

“Credit to the USA, they performed very well,” Pakistan captain Babar Azam said after the match. “They were better than us in all aspects of the game.”

Although the Pakistan national team has been struggling in many ways recently, undergoing a series of leadership changes, it is still ranked sixth in the world, compared to the United States’ 18th place. Following their defeat on Thursday, Pakistan faced anger from their fans on social media.

Shoaib Akhtar, the former Pakistani cricketer known as one of the fastest bowlers in the history of the sport, described himself as “hurt and disappointed” in his comments. Share on X.

“Unfortunately, Pakistan never deserved to win,” he said in a video clip. “The United States has always been in a leadership position.”

The United States now sits at the top of its group, after defeating Canada in its previous match last weekend. But the streak could end next week against the top-ranked T20 team in the world, India.

Pakistan remain in the tournament and will play India in New York this weekend in a highly anticipated match between two cricketing giants. Tickets for the match, which usually sell out within a few hours if played in either country, were still available early Friday and were priced at up to $10,000 for premium seats.

Although cricket is little known in the United States, it has a centuries-old history in the country, having been introduced to the colonies by the British. But it fell by the wayside with the growing popularity of other sports such as football, basketball and its smaller, simpler cousin baseball.

The United States is co-hosting the T20 World Cup and participating in the tournament for the first time.Matt Roberts/ICC via Getty Images

The sport is experiencing a revival in the United States, where there are six Major League Cricket teams, one of which is owned by the CEO of Microsoft. Satya Nadella. The first season was hosted last year at Grand Prairie Stadium as well as Church Street Park in Mooresville, North Carolina, and the second season kicks off on July 5, shortly after the end of the T20 World Cup.

But the renewed investment has not been without challenges.

The Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York, where the match between India and Ireland was played this week, has been criticized by the ICC for not performing up to standards.

On Friday, the ICC He said Its team was working hard to “address the situation and provide the best possible surfaces for the remaining matches.”

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