Unity Cup 2023 Preview
The 3rd season of the Unity Cup begins in just a few days and so we have some very exciting and entertaining Cricket coming up. 16 teams will battle it out in this action packed tournament which is set to take place from May 22nd to May 29th.
Group A: Clarion Eagles, RDU, Kingsmen, Asia United
Group B: California Titans, Florida Scorpions, Daddy's Kingsmen, Khulle Sher
Group C: Samp Army, SOCA Bluejays, Atlanta Fire, Punjab Royals
Group D: Kingsmen X, DMV Warriors, Premium Pathans, Baltimore Royals
A batting heavy side, Clarion Eagles are looking good ahead of this year's tournament. They've got some big names in their side and look an experienced team.
Their explosive batting line up is going to be one to watch out for. Mukhtar Ahmed, who recently got drafted by Washington Freedom in MLC, will be full of confidence ahead of this tournament. The likes of Ben Dunk, Saif Badar, and Tom Bruce in the lineup make this a very competitive team, especially with bat in hand.
With the ball in hand, Carmi Le Roux will lead the attack. The pacer has done well in many tournaments across the US, including the Unity Cup 2022, where he picked up 6 wickets in just 3 games. Ali Sheikh will also be an important asset for Clarion. He's not only handy with the ball, but he can bat well too, bolstering the middle and lower order of any side.
RDU have got some very experienced players in their side, a lot of whom have perfumed well in MiLC as well as the Unity Cup. Overall, they've got a well balanced side and should prove tough to beat.
With the bat in hand, RDU's 2 main players will be Smit Patel and Cody Chetty. Both of them can be very destructive if they get going. Smit was the leading run scorer in the opening edition of the Unity Cup back in 2021, while Chetty was the 2nd highest run scorer in the last edition of the tournament, exactly a year ago. Both of them joining forces this year will definitely make them a force to reckon with.
With Dane Piedt, Karthikeya Jagadish, and Tirth Patel, RDU have a spin heavy bowling attack. Piedt and Jagadish have both bowled well in tandem for the Morrisville Raptors in MiLC, while Tirth did the same for the Michigan Cricket Stars. Piedt's batting skills can also be handy for RDU, as the former South African international has developed a reputation of being a good finisher.
Heath Richards is another all rounder who RDU have in their side. In last year's Unity Cup, Richards hit 72 from just 42 balls and picked up 2/14 in the same game. His contributions with both bat and ball will be valuable for RDU this year.
Some huge names fill this Kingsmen side. Some of their players have proven themselves around the world, while others are champions in the US.
With the bat in hand, Martin Guptill is a huge player for Kingsmen. Guptill is not only one of the best players New Zealand has every produced, he's also a legend at the highest level. For some time, he was ranked as the number 1 T20 batsmen in the world, as per ICC rankings. Sharjeel Khan, having played a handful of games for Pakistan is another international player who makes this side.
Milind Kumar is another prominent name with both the bat and ball in hand. The top order batsmen ended last year's Unity Cup as the 4th highest run scorer, making 134 runs at a strike rate of nearly 160. Harmeet Singh, the winning captain of MiLC 2022, also joins the Kingsmen side. In last year's Unity Cup, he had a 200+ strike rate, and also bowled extremely well picking up 7 wickets in just 2 games. Another all rounder in the team is Hammad Azam. Azam was the tournament MVP of MiLC in its inaurgal season back in 2021. His skills with both bat and ball have contributed to countless wins over the years, and Kingsmen will hope he can continue to perform going into this year as well. Milind, Harmeet, and Azam's all round skills make them a very important part of any side.
With the ball in hand, Kingsmen have the pace of Rumaan Raees. Opening the bowling, Raees was the 2nd highest wicket taker in last year's Unity Cup, taking 9 wickets in 4 games, at an astounding economy of just 5.7.
Asia United are looking good ahead of this year's Unity Cup. Having played many tournaments across the country, the franchise has put together yet another solid team.
In the batting department, Asia United have got quite the firepower. Johnson Charles is a WK-Batsmen who was part of West Indies World Cup winning team back in 2016. He made some key contributions in that tournament, with the most notable being a 52 in the semis against India. Kennar Lewis is another big name in this side. Last year, in the Unity Cup, he provided quick starts to his side and ended the tournament in the top 10 run scorers list.
Anthony Bramble and Jonathan Foo are another couple of names who strengthen the batting of this Asia United side. Both of them performed extremely well in MiLC and will prove key for Asia United's chances in this tournament. Bramble is an opening batsmen, who plays extremely quickly up front, while Foo is a finisher, who plays cameos towards the end.
Ishan Sharma is a young player who will be one to look out for. He's already earned a name for himself as an emerging player in the DMV area, and will try to replicate some of his performances with the bat at this higher stage.
Navin Stewart is an all rounder who is also a part of this team. Stewart has performed well in many tournaments around the world and the experience he brings will be very important for Asia United.
The Titans are a new franchise who have put together an interesting team. They've got a good mix of experienced and emerging players. Overall, the Titans have a well balanced side ahead of the Unity Cup 2023.
Chadwick Walton, Rayad Emrit, and Kharry Pierre are 3 of the players who the Titans have picked up. All 3 of the West Indians have played at the highest level as well as in many T20 leagues around the world. Walton is a WK-Batsmen, Emrit, a pace bowling all rounder, and Pierre is a specialist spinner.
Rayyan Pathan and Nikhil Dutta are both Canada internationals. The experience they bring to this side could prove invaluable as the Titans look to put up a tournament winning performance.
Angelo Perera and Syed Abdullah are another couple of batsmen who will prove critical for the Titans' chances. While the latter is an opener, who put some solid performances in last year's Unity Cup, Perera is also a part time spinner. In fact, Perera ended last year's Unity Cup with 9 wickets, the 3rd most in the entire tournament.
Akhilesh Bodugum, an emerging player who has caught the eye of many, is also in this side. Bodugum is a specialist spinner who bowls well in the power play. He's both wicket taking and economical, making him a complete package with the ball in hand.
The Scorpions have filled their team with some big names, including international stars. Like the Titans, this is also a very experienced and a well balanced team.
Andre Fletcher, a West Indian international, is a WK-Batsmen known for his fearless batting and solid technique. Fletcher has played 79 internationals for the West Indies, in most of which he opened the batting. Striking at 160+ during last year's Unity Cup, Fletcher will want to continue his explosive batting at the top of the order. Sherfane Rutheford is another West Indian international in this squad. Rutheford, like Fletcher, has played in countless T20 leagues around the world. His pace bowling and power hitting down the order has been game changing in the past, and the Scorpions would be hoping he can continue that going into the Unity Cup 2023.
Saad Bin Zafar, the captain of Canada, is playing for the Scorpions in the 3rd edition of the Unity Cup. Primarily a left arm spinner, Saad can also be helpful with the bat in hand, lower down the order. The Scorpions have also got Gerhard Erasmus, who's the captain of Namibia. Erasmus is a batting all rounder who plays in the middle order. He's a dependable player and can rebuild an innings if early wickets are lost.
Another international player who the Scorpions have in their ranks is Kamau Levrock. Levrock is an all rounder for Bermuda who has played really well at the highest level. In T20Is, he averages 40 at a 170 strike rate with the bat, and has picked up 16 wickets in 12 games with the ball.
Nikhil Kanchan and Nitish Kumar are 2 US domestic top order batsmen. They're both consistent players who have performed well in many tournaments across the country. While neither of them played in the Unity Cup 2022, they'll be eager to leave their mark on the tournament this year.
Matthew Forde is a fast bowler who bowls express pace. He can also come in and play a cameo to finish off an innings. In MiLC 2022, Forde scored 94 runs in 5 innings at a strike rate of 142. His all round ability makes him an important part of any side.
The Kingsmen have put together a team filled with local players. A lot of the players in the side have done well in DMV tournaments and are now looking to continue some of those performances into the Unity Cup.
Gaurav Bajaj and Masud Haque are 2 of the senior players that the Kingsmen have. In the bowling department, Chaitanya Bishnoi is a young spinner who was recently selected by San Francisco in the MLC draft. He also makes this Kingsmen team.
Waris Sidhu and Kanwar Singh are 2 of the fast bowlers who are going to be representing the Kingsmen. Both of these players have played a lot of Cricket in the DMV area. Sidhu is still a young and upcoming player, while Kanwar is more experienced.
Khulle Sher have put together a good looking team for the Unity Cup 2023. While they're a team which has played a decent amount of Cricket in the DMV area, Khulle Sher are taking part in the Unity Cup for the first time.
Sahib Malhotra and Raunaq Sharma are 2 prominent names with the bat. While the former has played most of his Cricket in the Americas, the latter has played a lot of Cricket in India. Both of them will be key if Khulle Sher are todo well in the tournament this year.
With the ball in hand, Mohammed Asif and Jacob Duffy are the lead pacers. Asia represented Pakistan at the international level, while Duffy is doing the same, but for New Zealand.
The defending champions have assembled an excellent team as they look to put up another tournament winning performance. Samp Army are a franchise which has played in many tournaments and their players have played a lot of Cricket with each other. They're a team which gels well together.
Monank Patel, the current captain of the US national team, is one of the key batsmen in this Samp Army side. A very dependable player, Monank could play the anchor role for Samp Army. Another batsmen picked up by Samp Army is Andries Gous. Gous is a very explosive player at the top of the order and can take the game away from oppositions in the blink of an eye. At the Unity Cup 2022, playing for the Atlanta Fire, he had a strike rate of 266.67 in the 3 games that he opened. This included a 52 off just 19 balls against Samp Army.
Obus Piennar can both rebuild an innings, as well as be destructive towards the death overs. He was the 3rd highest scorer last year, making 141 runs in 4 innings, and getting out only once. In the opening game against the DMV Warriors, Piennar set the tournament on fire hitting a 77 not out from just 38 balls. He's also a handy bowler, making him a very versatile player.
With the ball in hand, Saurabh Netravalkar and Manoj Acharya are the 2 domestic fast bowlers. Netravalkar was the former US captain, while Acharya has been bowling exceptionally well in the death overs across competitions in the US. Samp Army also have Shannon Gabriel and Ashley Nurse in the side. Both of them are West Indian international bowlers. While the former bowlers pace, Nurse is a spinner. He'll be joining forces with Nisarg Patel to make life tough for the batsmen in the middle overs. While Nurse is more of an economical bowler, Nisarg is a wicket taking option for Samp Army to use in that phase.
Additionally, Samp Army have also picked up a few UAE international players. Joining their side for this tournament are Basil Hameed, Rohan Mustafa, and Akif Raja. All 3 of them have been instrumental in UAE's success, and it's going to be great seeing them play in the US.
The Bluejays are a young and upcoming team of emerging talent in the DMV area. The Unity Cup will be a great opportunity for them to showcase their talent against some of the best in the country.
While this team is primarily composed of young and upcoming players, there are some senior players in the side as well. This includes the likes of Chris VanTull, Theo Barnett, and Kheil Mckenzie. All 3 of these players are not only very experienced, but they've also been coaching some of the young players who are now playing for the Bluejays.
A lot of the players who represent Atlanta in MiLC are back with the franchise for the Unity Cup. Atlanta have put together another very competitive team with some big names in the side.
Aaron Jones and Steven Taylor, the 2 US internationals, have played very well together in both MiLC and for the US. Joining forces once again in this year's Unity Cup, Jones and Taylor will be a duo to watch out for. Their MiLC teammate, Zain Sayed, is also a part of the Atlanta team. The top 3 of Taylor, Sayed, and Jones has worked extremely well for Atlanta in the past, and they'd be hoping that these 3 can replicate some of those performances over the course of the next week. Lahiru Milantha, is another big name for Atlanta. He was the leading run scorer of the Atlantic Conference in MiLC 2022, and he's a proven match winner. Last year in the Unity Cup, he made some important contributions to get Atlanta into the playoffs.
Atlanta have also got a few great all rounders in their side. Sami Aslam and Zia Shahzad have both played a lot of Cricket with each other and were an important part of Golden State Grizzlies' success in MiLC. Last year in the Unity Cup, Aslam hit 91 from just 43 balls to ensure that Atlanta top the table going into the playoffs. A new addition to Atlanta's team this year is Calvin Savage. Savage was the talk of the town during MiLC 2022 as a result of his all round performances. Captaining the Chicago Tigers, Savage was key in the team's journey to the playoffs.
With the ball in hand, Justin Dill and Corne Dry are the 2 lead pacers. Dry took 8 wickets in just 3 games during the Unity Cup 2022, while Dill picked up 4 and also contributed with the bat. Both of them are very consistent players and are wicket taking options both in the powerplay and at the death.
The Royals, a new team in the Unity Cup this year, have put together a star-studded team. They've got a very experienced squad, with a lot of the players having played at the highest level and in leagues all around the world.
With the bat, the Royals have got Unmukt Chand at the top. Chand, India's U19 World Cup winning captain, is a prolific run scorer. Ever since he moved to the US, Chand has stolen the show in many leagues across the country. He's the all time leading run scorer in MiLC, and lifted the trophy, as captain, back in its inaugural season. While he didn't have too good of a Unity Cup last year, Chand does have fond memories of the DMV area. Back in 2021, during the Nations Capital T20 Tournament, he scored 166 runs in just 4 games, which included an unbeaten century. Joining Chand at the top of the order will be the explosive David White. White was the 4th highest run scorer of the Pacific Conference in MiLC 2022.
A lot of the players who represent the Baltimore Royals (previously known as the DC Hawks) in MiLC are also part of this Punjab side. Neil Narvekar, Ravi Inder Singh, Bipul Sharma, Sahil Kapoor were are integral parts of the side in MiLC. All 4 of them have played high level Cricket in India, and are very experienced. While Kapoor is a batsmen, the first 3 are all rounders.
Bhaskar Yadram is another big name in the side. Yadram is known for his massive sixes, and handy death bowling. Last year at the Unity Cup, he picked up 8 wickets in 4 games and helped his team reach the semi finals. This year, Yadram will want to go a couple steps further and get his hands on the trophy.
With the ball, Punjab have 3 quality pacers: Jessy Singh, Pranto Ahmed, and Kesrick Williams. Jessy has represented the US at the international level, while Pranto is an emerging talent who ended last year's MiLC as the 2nd highest wicket taker in the Atlantic Conference. Williams, a West Indian international, was once ranked in the top 25 T20 bowlers in the world. Last year at the Unity Cup, he picked up 6 wickets in just 3 games, which included a match winning 4 wicket haul.
The Kingsmen have created a good looking team. They've picked up a lot of International players and have a well balanced team for the 3rd edition of the Unity Cup.
Reeza Hendricks is a South African international who was once in the ICC top 10 rankings for T20 batsmen. He's played a lot of Cricket for South Africa and is very experienced, especially in the shorter formats. If he gets going, Hendricks can be very hard to stop. Another international batsmen in the side is Fawad Alam, who has represented Pakistan at the highest level. Alam is an all format player, who recently made a comeback int the Pakistan national team. Partnering with Hendricks, this duo will be one to watch out for.
Shayan Jahangir and Shehan Jayasuriya are another couple of batsmen who Kingsmen have picked up. At the Unity Cup 2022, Jahangir played 2 games and scored 127 runs at a strike rate of nearly 200. Opening the batting against Samp Army he scored 68 from 40 deliveries, and then followed that performance up with a 59 off just 25 deliveries against Atlanta Fire. Jayasuriya has also been playing extremely well. In MiLC 2022, Jayasuriya was the second highest run scorer making 692 runs at an average of nearly 50.
Nkrumah Bonner is a West Indian international who is primarily a batsmen, but also occasionally bowls some spin. Another all rounder in the team is Shubham Ranjane. In the finals of MiLC 2022, Ranjane picked up the player of the match award for his 51 with the bat and 4/21 with the ball.
With the ball in hand, Ehsan Adil and Shadley Van Schalkwyk are Kingsmens' 2 lead pacers. In MiLC 2022, Shadley picked up 20 wickets and ended in the top 10 wicket takers of the pacific conference, while Adil was close behind with 18 wickets in just 10 games. Both the pacers are very economical as well, making them very valuable with the ball.
The DMV Warriors is a team filled with young players. They're a team with a lot of energy, and are very hungry to win. Last year, they performed really well and made it to the playoffs. This year, the DMV Warriors will want to go a few steps further and progress past the quarter finals stage.
Adil Bhatti is leading this young side. Bhatti is a very experienced player who has represented the US at the highest level. He's an all rounder who bowls good pace. Additionally, Bhatti has worked a lot with the younger players, as both a teammate and coach.
Some of the players in this DMV Warriors side have represented various different teams in MiLC. This includes Waleed Karimullah, Rocy Islam, Abdul Jabbar, as well as Rasesh and Ritwik Behera. These players are still emerging, but they've done extremely well till now.
Ahsan Reshad and Wahab Syed are both all rounders. The former bowls pace, while the latter is a spinner. Syed is more of a batsmen who anchors the innings, though he does have the power hitting game too. Reshad, on the other hand, is very explosive. He can bat anywhere in the line up and adapts well to different conditions.
The Pathans have put together a decent team. They have got a lot of experienced players in their side. Many of these players have played well locally in the DMV area. The team will get an opportunity to play against some of the top players in the country, and it'll be interesting to see how they are able to do.
The Royals are a local and MiLC franchise who are taking part in the Unity Cup this year. They're a side known for putting together an experienced team, and that's exactly what they've done this year as well.
Jaskaran Malhotra is a key batsmen for the Baltimore Royals. He has not only represented the US internationally, but he hit 6 sixes against PNG and also holds the record for the highest score batting at number 5. At the Unity Cup 2023, Malhotra will be looking to break some more records as the Royals try to secure a spot in the playoffs. Nauman Anwar is another well equipped batsmen in the side. In the last edition of the Unity Cup, Anwar got his team off to quick starts with some fireworks in the powerplay.
With the ball in hand, Mohammad Irfan will be critical for the Baltimore Royals. Standing tall at 7'1, the left arm pacer is the tallest ever bowler in the history of international Cricket. Irfan uses his height to great effect in order to trouble batsmen.
Sarabjeet Ladda will be leading the spin attack for the Royals. Picking up 56 wickets across 2 seasons, he has been a key part of the DC franchise in MiLC. Ladda uses his variations extremely well to trouble batsmen. He's someone who's a proven game changer and can turn the entire game in the span of just an over.
The Unity Cup is set to provide us with some thrilling Cricket. There's a lot to look forward to over the course of the next week as 16 quality teams fight it out against each other, with only one coming out on top and getting their hands on the trophy.