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Cricket team heads to nationals

By Jordan Thomas
On March 7, 2013

The University of Memphis cricket team will be heading to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. over spring break to participate in the American College Cricket National Championships.
The national championships are being held at Central Broward Regional Park with games beginning on March 13.  The semi-finals and finals will be held on the 17th.  
The team has been practicing every weekend at Echles Field, but since the field is not applicable for everything the team needs, they also practice at indoor facilities in the Memphis area.
"We don't have a pitch area, because we have not gotten permission to make one," computer science graduate student Murali Krishna Ankaraju said.  "But a local team allowed us to practice on their field."
Ankaraju was named the number one newcomer of the year at the end of 2012 and he hopes his success continues to a run at the national championship.
The Memphis Tigers Cricket Club is an official club sport at the University of Memphis and is made up of undergrad, graduate and doctorate students.  The club was started in 2007 and continues to gain more support.  Last year, the club was accepted as an official member of the American College Cricket League.  This is the first time the team will be playing in the national championships.  
"The team leaves Monday evening for Ft. Lauderdale and will play two exhibition games," club president Santhosh Ankaraju said.
They will play matches against the University of the West Indies and the U.S. Under 19 World Cup team.  This will be the toughest competition the Tigers have played.
The American College Cricket Nationals tournament consists of 28 teams.  The teams are divided into four groups of seven teams each.  
The first round of games is played in a round-robin system, in which every team faces one another with the top two teams advancing to the quarterfinals.
The University of Memphis Cricket Club was placed in Group C.  The other teams in Group C include George Washington University, Arkansas State University, Virginia Tech, Carnegie Mellon, Montgomery College and Ohio State University.
"We are expecting to do extremely well at nationals even though it's our first time," Murali Ankaraju said.  "Even one of the tournament leaders said he expects for us to make it to the semifinals, maybe even the finals."
The team pays for most of its expenses out of pocket, but over the past year has been getting help from alumni and student funds.  The club also accepts donations at to help lower the costs of travel and accommodation.
"We hope that with more publicity, we can raise more money to help offset the costs for the students," club advisor Vamsi Krishna Dhanekula said.
The club's goal is to make it all the way to the finals and win the Chanderpaul Trophy, which the winning team will take back to their university.
"We really want to win the tournament and trophy," said management information systems graduate student Venkat Velaga.  "It would help us promote the game of cricket in Memphis, and get us more funding from the University."

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