The Orcas and Freedom are already in the playoffs, while there is a three-way scrap for the final two spots
WATCH – Netrawalkar runs 6 for 9 through San Francisco
Washington Freedom defended their modest score of 133
Major League Cricket (MLC) moved to North Carolina for the second week as the league stage reached its business end. 13 out of 15 group matches have been completed, with two playoff spots up for grabs. The Seattle Orcas and Washington Freedom are in the playoffs while the LA Knight Riders are out of contention after losing four of five games. MI New York, Texas Super Kings and San Francisco Unicorns have a three-way battle to make the playoffs. Here’s how the second week of MLC action panned out.
It’s all or nothing for Devon Conway
Fifty-five, 0, 74, 0 – two first-ball ducks, two quick half-centuries. It’s a weird MLC for Devon Conway.
He lit up the opening game of the tournament against the Knight Riders, scoring his first half-century in the MLC. In the next game, against Freedom, Marco Jansen cleaned him up for a duck. He scored a 55-ball 74 against New York and fell for another first-ball duck against the Orcas. Conway’s ducks matched the Super Kings’ loss. He will be looking to score big and build consistency in the last league match against the Unicorns, which will be crucial to the Super Kings’ playoff chances.
Netrawalker’s demolition work, Phillips ball magnet
Saurabh Netrawalkar is one of the famous American cricketers. He made his ODI and T20 debut in 2019 and has led the team in both formats. While most USA players failed to break into the playing XI in the first year of the MLC, Netrawalkar made a mark as he tore through the Unicorns lineup. With Freedom defending 133, the right-hander got the ball to deck sharply from an angle around the wicket, breaking the back of the Unicorns’ chase, leaving them clean for 103.
The bowling performance was ably supported by Gren Phillips on the field. He took four catches, including two that went a fair distance. He kept darting from short cover to deep cover, to either side of the wicket, sitting patiently in the cow corner on either side, grabbing everything that came his way. The ball seemed to follow Phillips and he was happy with the situation.
Highlights: Russell blitzes in vain as Washington Freedom beats LAKR
Watch all the highlights of the game between Los Angeles Knight Riders and Washington Freedom at MLC 2023
Russell’s heroics were not enough to turn the Knight Riders’ fortunes around
It’s fair to say that Knight Riders’ campaign never really took off. There were flashes of brilliance, but the team failed to show as a unit. However, Andre Russell, who has been the highest run-scorer in the tournament so far with 206 runs from five matches, has shone throughout. After Dallas, it was Morrisville’s turn to witness his heroic deeds. He scored an unbeaten 70 off 37 balls with six fours and six sixes to take the Freedom bowlers to the cleaners. However, his innings was not enough as Andries Gauss’ 40 off 15 balls, supported by effective visitors, helped Freedom chase down 176 runs with ease.
Knight Riders got a win in their last league match after four consecutive defeats. Riley Roseau came to the party with an unbeaten 78 off 38 balls to help his side beat table-toppers Orcas.
Who will make the playoffs?
The Orcas have already qualified for the playoffs with three wins from four games and the Freedom with three wins from five. New York are third in the points table with four points and play their final group game against the Orcas on Wednesday. A win would put New York above second-place Freedom due to its superior net run rate. Even if they lose, New York has a shot at making the final four, as their current net run rate is +1.319. Super Kings and Unicorns are fourth and fifth respectively with four points. The winner of this match will secure a play-off spot.
Domestic Watch: Muhammad Mohsin
Peshawar-born legspinner, now US-based Mohammad Mohsin is a player to watch out for. Playing for Super Kings, he has taken a wicket in every game, moving the batsmen with his trickery and guile. He started his MLC campaign going 4 for 8 against the Knight Riders and has been consistent throughout. He has taken eight wickets at an average of 14.62 and an economy of 8.35 from four games so far.
“He has a kit of tricks that you want against those big hitters, especially in the first six balls when they expose their front pad. I have faith in him now,” Super Kings captain Faf du Plessis said of Mohsin.
Most runs: Andre Russell | 206 runs at a strike rate of 156.06.
Most wickets: Cameron Gannon | Nine wickets at an average of 11.11
Ashish Pant is a sub-editor for ESPNcriinfo