A winning culture

International students find connection to home through UB Cricket Club

The Spectrum

In the United States, celebrities roam the streets of Los Angeles, star in movies and make Billboard-topping records.

In India, they play cricket.

Cricket is so highly regarded in India that some consider it to be like its own religion. In 2012, the game garnered attention in America after ESPN's Wright Thompson traveled to South Asia and wrote a lengthy feature titled, "Why You Should Care About Cricket." The competitive outdoor game - which athletes play with bats, wickets and a small, leather-covered ball - is a vital part of Indian culture. It's carried over to be a part of UB's campus, too.

When Raman Rana, a Ph.D. student in the field of medical physics and coach of UB Cricket Club, left his home in India in 2009 and arrived to the United States, the first thing he looked for was a cricket association.

UB's club has helped Rana's love for cricket flourish.

In 2010, alumni Nikhil Sapre, Anirudh Kumpawat and Anirudh Reddy founded UB's undergraduate cricket club (UBCC). During the first year, the club had 16 members, many of whom graduated that year. This prompted the club's founders to recruit new members in 2011, leading to an increase in membership.

Today, UBCC has over 250 members.

Rana said UBCC allows players at every level to come and enjoy the sport. UBCC offers international students the chance to reconnect with the sport while they're from their home country and introduces others to a sport that they are unfamiliar with, Rana added.

Aakash Dixit, a senior business major and president of UBCC, said membership is enticing for students because of cricket's cultural importance in Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Many members who already have developed skills in cricket are able to compete in tournaments around the United States. Newcomers are able to play alongside seasoned players to learn more about the sport, Rana said.

In July, the UBCC team participated in the Vibha Cricket tournament and won. The team also won a cricket tournament that UB's Pakistani Student Association organized.

UBCC also participates in tournaments outside of Western New York that American College Cricket puts on. In October 2012, the members competed in the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) regional tournament in Columbus, Ohio, and left as semifinalists. The following year, they competed in the ACC National Championship for the first time in UBCC history and made it to the quarterfinals.

Dixit and Rana are hoping to make it to nationals again and bring home the title. UBCC's large membership allows Dixit and Rana to create several teams and compete in more regional tournaments.

Most of the club's practices take place in the parking lot of Governor's Residence Hall. The club's leaders also reserve practice time on Kunz Field. Rana and Dixit are able to keep their large club organized by communicating practice dates and times through Facebook.

UBCC usually meets for practice weekdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., the day dependent upon when the most members are free. Practice begins when the weather gets warmer, which is typically mid-March to mid-November.

Rana also encourages students to also join the UB Cricket Association, a club he created for graduate students, in addition to the undergraduate cricket club.

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