Updated June 2nd, 2024 at 18:58 IST

'Tonight’s innings will open eyes': USA cricketer warns rivals after stellar T20 World Cup debut

With a remarkable performance in the opening match of the T20 World Cup 2024 against Canada, USA have made a perfect start to the campaign.

USA beat Canada in the ICC T20 World Cup 2024 opening match | Image:www.icc-cricket.com/
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New Yorker Aaron Jones made headlines on Sunday with a remarkable performance in the opening match of the T20 World Cup against Canada. His explosive 94 off 40 balls played a crucial role in securing a dominant seven-wicket victory for the USA, marking a triumphant start to the tournament co-hosted by the USA and the West Indies.

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Aaron Jones silences doubters with his bat

Jones' innings was particularly significant given the scrutiny surrounding his place in the T20I side. Despite his impressive display of skill, he had faced scepticism, highlighted by his release from the Seattle Orcas, a Major League Cricket (MLC) franchise, after its inaugural season. Additionally, he was not selected in the most recent MLC draft, raising questions about his future in top-tier cricket.

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Responding to these doubts, Jones expressed hope that his performance would catch the attention of those unfamiliar with him and the burgeoning USA cricket scene. "I wanted to show I was good enough to play at the highest level," Jones remarked, reflecting his determination and confidence. His knock not only showcased his talent but also emphasized the potential of USA cricket on an international stage.

"When I wasn't selected in the Major League, I just took it as a stepping stone in the journey," he said. "I would have loved to get drafted, so it goes sometimes. Hopefully tonight's innings will probably open the eyes of those who don't know me or USA cricket. 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." Set a target of 195, USA stuttered initially, losing opener Steven Taylor for zero in the second ball of the innings, and were 42/2 after 6.3 overs. But Jones had other ideas as he came up with a counter-attacking innings to script a memorable win with as many as 14 balls to spare.

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"I don't think it is easy to put it into words. We know Canada come hard against us since it is a big rivalry. Happy to take the team over the line," said Jones. Jones smashed 10 sixes on the day, the second most in a T20 World Cup innings behind West Indian Chris Gayle's 11 against England in 2016.

"Sometimes as a cricketer, you could go a bit under the radar if you have a few low scores," Jones said. "I always back myself and know that I am capable of performing at every level. (I am) happy that I came out on top and won the game for USA. "Hope it opens the eyes of some people around the world that I am good enough to play T20 cricket.

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"I believe in myself, I work hard and I just use (criticism) as motivation. I know that I'm good enough to play at the highest level, and whenever given the opportunity, I'll do my best for sure.

"When I went out to bat tonight, I just saw it as another game to fight for me and bring my team as close as possible to the line, and if we get as close as possible to the line and over the line, it's great for the team."

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Did not panic after losing couple of early wickets

Despite losing two early wickets, Jones said he was confident of chasing down the total with their long batting lineup. He got a helping hand from Andries Gous, who made 65 off 46 balls in a 131-run partnership with Jones.

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"With our batting line-up, knew anything under 200 is chaseable. Outfield and pitch were good and we knew that," said Jones after USA's highest run chase in T20Is." USA will next take on Pakistan at the same venue on Thursday and play India in ten days' time, while Canada face Ireland in New York on Friday.

Jones said they will continue to play fearless cricket. "We just want to keep winning as much as possible, of course we can't win every single game for the rest of our lives.

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"I don't think our plan (for the rest of the tournament) is going to change much. We want to play fearless cricket, we want to play hard cricket, we want to play smart cricket.

"We are going into the Pakistan game with the same mindset. We want to play fearless cricket, regardless of who we play against." All praise for Jones, USA skipper Monank Patel said: "We've always known, he has the game. He played fearless cricket and backing his shots. It was clean hitting.

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"We want to continue the way we are playing. Don't want to change our fearless cricket whether we play Pakistan or India." Calling it a team effort, Patel said: "The way we've been playing against Canada in previous series, I thought it was a whole team effort." 

(With inpputs from PTI)

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Published June 2nd, 2024 at 18:58 IST