Participants in the UTSC Cricket Series. Photo Courtesy of AVEE GANDHI.

UTSC hosted its first ever tri-series women’s cricket tournament at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre (TPASC) on Wednesday, March 7. It welcomed two other cricket clubs from Wilfrid Laurier University and Ryerson University.

The tournament was organized by Canadian College Cricket (CCC) and two cricket executives at UTSC, Avee Gandhi and Ahmed Bashar Syed.

Each match was five overs long. All three teams played against each other, and the best two teams would go to the finals to play for the Champions trophy.

The first match was between Ryerson and UTSC. Ryerson won the toss and elected to bowl first. In the first innings of the match, the UTSC girls batted beautifully and set a target of 48 runs, with only one wicket gone (48/1). The opening batsmen, Schanzé Asdaf Chaudary and captain Perenthaa Arulnesan, scored 20 runs and 22 runs, respectively. The second innings saw a few wide and no balls thrown by UTSC, but UTSC had their first glorious win and beat Ryerson by 23 runs.
The second match was between UTSC and Laurier, and it was a close one.

Laurier won the toss and elected to bowl first. With a slower game in the first over, with hardly any runs, the UTSC opening batsmen picked up slowly and ended up setting a target of 33 runs, with no wickets gone (33/0). Schanzé scored 17 runs, and Perenthaa scored nine with seven extras.

In the second innings, UTSC bowled an amazing first over with two wickets gone and a third wicket gone again in the second over. In the last over, Laurier only needed seven runs to win with two balls remaining, but they couldn’t make the target, and UTSC won yet again by four runs. With that, they secured a place in the final.

The third match and semifinal was between Ryerson and Laurier. Ryerson supporters geared up with drums and their provocative chants. This really turned the vibe of the tournament around. With them continuously yelling, “Laurier, you need a new coach,” and “Go home, this ain’t baseball,” the cricket executives could really see something bad coming around the corner.
Laurier won the toss and elected to bowl. Ryerson bat well, starting off with eight runs in one over, and they set a final score of 39 runs, with one wicket down (39/1). In the second innings, Ryerson bowled beautifully. Laurier had already lost six wickets, with three in a row, as the match rolled into the third over. With a score of 25/6 after four overs, Laurier would have had to score 15 runs to win with only six balls left.
In a turn of events, Ryerson ended up throwing a lot of wide balls in a row. Because wide balls aren’t counted as balls lost in a cricket match, while you still get runs, Laurier had five runs to score with only two balls left.

The cricket executives from all three universities had previously decided that three extras — either wides or no balls — in a row would count as a ball. However, when the Laurier cricket president saw that the executives changed the number of balls remaining from two to one, he charged onto the field and got into a heated exchange.

This aggravated the Ryerson executives, who began chanting “Cheaters!” A physical brawl broke out between Ryerson and Laurier on the field.
The cricket executives from UTSC and the CCC executives ran to stop the brawl, and TPASC security had to be called. Nobody was injured, but everyone involved in the fight was immediately removed from the premises.

After the three extras, the Laurier team had to score two runs with only one ball remaining. However, they could only take a single, which resulted in the match being tied. The executives decided that because Laurier had a better Net Run Rate — the batting average in all the matches played — they would move on to play UTSC in the final.

Instead of five overs, the final was only two overs long. UTSC won the toss and elected to bowl first. Laurier bat first and set a final target of 10 runs (10/1). In the second inning, Schanzé opened the match with a four and played extraordinarily. UTSC needed only one run with two balls remaining, and they won the tournament.

After the match, captain Arulnesan said, “I feel amazing! I’m proud… You can tell by the way they played. When we put the girls up there, I knew we would win.”

Co-organizer Gandhi explained how the UTSC women’s cricket club was formed. “2-3 months ago, a few girls from our school approached us and told us they were interested [in cricket], and they messaged me saying they want to start a team… We then got in contact with Canadian College Cricket about the whole event and we started talking to them… We got the girls that were actually interested, and we got them to find people… We took the best of our time, we practiced all reading week… and then regular days we had two practices every week.”

He was surprised that UTSC managed to beat both Ryerson and Laurier with only a month of practice. “Ryerson has been playing for the past, I think, two years now. And Laurier has been playing for the past year. For us, it was only less than a month practice and to be honest, we had hopes, but our hopes were not that high since we thought we were not prepared as everyone else because they had more practice time. But the girls did exceptionally well.”

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