Sensational upset awakens USA from 100-year cricketing hibernation

For cricket to break the United States of America, it needed something special.

It needed drama, entertainment, high-quality skill and a little bit of chaos thrown in.

So when the co-hosts of the T20 World Cup stunned former champions Pakistan in Texas in a super-over showpiece for the ages, cricket had delivered.

The US played their first T20 international in 2019, are competing in their first World Cup and were playing Pakistan for the first time.

They are ranked 18th in the world behind Nepal and the UAE.

Pakistan reached the final of this competition the last time it was played in 2022 and won it in 2009.

This was not supposed to happen, but this is the land of opportunity. And this was Texas, where everything is bigger.

"Beating Pakistan is a big achievement," said US captain Monank Patel. "It's a big day for Team USA. Not just for USA, for the USA cricket community too."

Over in New York, where the tournament's other matches are being staged, the slow pitches have dominated the discussions and produced low-scoring, drab affairs.

But Texas has provided the fireworks; the blueprint to show that cricket in the States can work and it can be brilliant.

And all this in the backyard of the NFL's most valuable team, the Dallas Cowboys.

Aaron Jones' 10 sixes kick-started the tournament in style in the opener against Canada, before a collective team effort of unity, spirit and nerves of steel helped them over the line against Pakistan.

"I've got shivers down my spine," said former Netherlands all-rounder Ryan ten Doeschate on BBC Test Match Special.

"Coming from an associate nation myself, I know how difficult this is.

"But what a memorable day and a shot in the arm for USA cricket. If you ever wanted a marketing tool to show Americans what this great game is about, this is it."

This could prove to be a game that changes the sport as we know it stateside, which is home to one of the world's newest and most glamourous T20 franchise leagues, Major League Cricket, and where the sport will make its reappearance at the Olympic Games in LA in 2028.

"Beating Pakistan in the World Cup is going to open many doors for us," added Monank.

"Hosting the World Cup in the USA and performing here as a team, it helps us to grow the cricket in the USA."

Pakistan are one of 12 full member nations of the International Cricket Council while the USA are an associate member.

This means, like 93 other countries, they are recognised by the sport's governing body but do not play Test matches.

'A proper team effort'

For the US team, the emotion and the impact of the result was evident in the celebrations.

They went toe-to-toe with Pakistan for the full 40 overs, with nothing to separate the sides after Haris Rauf's dismal final ball was pelted over his head for four by Nitish Kumar.

And after Saurabh Netravalkar closed out the super over, holding his own after conceding an early boundary and bowling a couple of early wides, he was lifted upon his team-mates' shoulders and paraded around the outfield in front of jubilant fans.

"I am so proud of how we played," added Monank, who made a crucial half-century in his side's initial run-chase.

"It was a proper team effort. Winning the toss, we knew we had to make sure we utilised conditions and credit to our bowlers for doing that."

For Pakistan, their tournament is far from over after just one game but after such a shambolic opening performance, things are looking bleak for Babar Azam's men.

They reached the final in 2022, where they were eventually beaten by England, but have little time to dwell on this with a showpiece match against rivals India in New York coming up on Sunday.

"If you lose a match, you are always upset," said Babar. "We are not playing well, in fielding, bowling and batting.

"I am upset. As a professional, you have to step up against such a performance or such a team in the batting, in the middle order. This is not an excuse that they played well. I think we played badly."

The USA, meanwhile, now top Group A and will fancy their chances of reaching the Super 8s stage which follows.

'Cricket's reawakening in the US after 100-year hibernation'

Analysis by BBC Sport's Timothy Abraham in the USA

USA bowler Nosthush Kenjige, who took 3-30, is congratulated by supporters at the  Grand Prairie Stadium
USA bowler Nosthush, who took 3-30, is congratulated by supporters at the Grand Prairie Stadium [Getty Images]

This result becomes one of the landmark moments in the history of cricket in the United States.

The Gentlemen Of Philadelphia, inspired by the first great swing bowler John Barton King, scored victories over the counties on their UK tours of 1904 and 1908 when they beat the likes of Lancashire, Kent and Surrey in matches holding first-class status.

A private tour to North America organised by Arthur Malley in 1932, which included a honeymooning Don Bradman, saw an Australian XI held to several draws including some on US soil. Bradman was famously dismissed for a duck in New York on the tour.

A World All Stars XI captained by Tony Greig, and featuring Garry Sobers, Alan Knott, Greg Chappell and others, surprisingly lost to an American side, most of whom were originally from the Caribbean, in an exhibition match at Shea Stadium in Queens in front of 8,000 fans.

Joe Lynn, the curator of the United States Cricket Museum at Haverford College, near Philadelphia, said the result was "huge" for cricket in the country.

"This tournament could not have started better from the US perspective. To win the first game against Canada was one thing, but beating a full-member nation like Pakistan is something else," Lynn said.

"Perhaps it's always been a misnomer to say cricket died in the US at the hands of baseball, but I think its been in hibernation more than anything else. With Major League Cricket and this World Cup it is a reawakening of sorts."