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Monday, July 15, 2024

U.S. Cricket Stuns Goliath Behind Its Star, an Ivy League Software Engineer

  • Team USA upset Pakistan, one of cricket’s superpowers, in overtime.
  • One of its best players, Saurabh Netravalkar, has a day job at Oracle.

The U.S. is playing in its first International Cricket Council Men’s T20 World Cup, one of the sport’s top competitions displaying a shortened version of the game. And Team USA pulled off something similar to the “Miracle on Ice” on Thursday in Grand Prairie, Texas.

The Americans beat Pakistan, one of the sport’s top competitors, in the tournament’s version of overtime, called the Super Over. Leading the way was Saurabh Netravalkar, the lefty bowler (think: pitcher) who helped secure the victory for the U.S. His full-time job? The Cornell grad is a principal member of technical staff at Oracle, according to his LinkedIn profile.

It’s hard to put into words just how big of a deal this upset is. Pakistan will face India on Sunday in one of the biggest rivalries in all of sports. When the two squared off in October, the digital and TV audience was roughly 3.5 times larger than the Super Bowl. In Pakistan, where the team has reached the T20 Finals three times, including the last tournament in 2022, cricketers are national celebrities. In the U.S., we are just learning their names.

Oracle chimed in on social media, congratulating the team and saying it’s proud of its “very own engineering and cricket star.”

The U.S. team has all the makings of virality, especially when it comes to power hitter Aaron Jones, who routinely sends it out of the park.

“Hopefully tonight’s innings will probably open the eyes of those who don’t know me or USA cricket,” Jones said after the team’s first win over Canada. “We have great players here and that we have a lot of talent here and are willing to play at the highest level for sure.”

The No. 18 Americans round out their group play with a match against India, the No. 1–ranked team in the world, on June 12, followed by Ireland on June 14.

The tournament is taking place for the first time in the U.S. and West Indies throughout the month of June, with American venues in Florida, Texas, and New York.

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