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India defeats the U.S. in a match in the Cricket T20 World Cup

ROB SCHMITZ, HOST:

At the Cricket T20 World Cup, the U.S. fell just short in its match against India, but the Americans still have a chance to move ahead in a contest tomorrow that brings the tournament to the U.S. for the first time. Here's NPR's Becky Sullivan.

BECKY SULLIVAN, BYLINE: In this form of cricket, called T20, the two teams each get a turn to bat. One goes first, sees how many runs they can score, then the second team gets a chance to beat that total. On Wednesday, the U.S. batted first.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Cheering).

SULLIVAN: After a slow start, the U.S. scored 110 runs - modest, but respectable - and maybe, just maybe, enough to win. Then came India's turn, and their star...

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UNIDENTIFIED COMMENTATOR #1: Virat Kohli - two of the best to have come out from Indian Shores.

SULLIVAN: The Indian cricketer is one of the most famous athletes in the world. He has nearly 270 million followers on Instagram, which is more than any athlete not named Messi or Ronaldo. Across the pitch, bowling for the U.S, was a software engineer named Saurabh Netravalkar. He wound up, he delivered the ball and Kohli tipped it right into the waiting hands of a USA player - the superstar out on his first ball, shocking the crowd and the broadcasters on Willow.

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UNIDENTIFIED COMMENTATOR #2: Oh, that's taken the outside edge. Netravalkar strikes.

SULLIVAN: In this match, the U.S. couldn't hang on. The momentum shifted, and India put the match away. Still, Kohli's quick exit was an electric moment, and emblematic of how competitive this U.S. team has been. USA head coach Stuart Law said as much to reporters later.

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STUART LAW: We stuck to our guns. We fought hard. We fought to the death. I thought we showed some fantastic character against one of the best teams in the world.

SULLIVAN: The USA team's performance at this month's World Cup has been a surprise. It's been exciting for sports fans here in the States, both cricket die-hards and newcomers - and the players have taken notice, said Captain Aaron Jones.

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AARON JONES: This is something that we've been talking about over the last couple of years, wanting more funds for USA cricket, so now is the time that we're really enjoying it.

SULLIVAN: In the crowd Wednesday was Rutz Pat. He lives in Pennsylvania and traveled to New York for the game. He told member station WSHU that he'd be happy if either team had won.

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RUTZ PAT: Yes, I grew up in India. Then I came USA 10 years ago, and USA gave me everything, so I'm supporting both the countries. They gave me job, they gave me money, and I'm happy. I'm so happy here.

SULLIVAN: With yesterday's win, India qualified for the next stage of the tournament - and the U.S. could, too, with a win against Ireland on Friday. Becky Sullivan, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Becky Sullivan has reported and produced for NPR since 2011 with a focus on hard news and breaking stories. She has been on the ground to cover natural disasters, disease outbreaks, elections and protests, delivering stories to both broadcast and digital platforms.