Showers soaked Prairie View, Texas, in late March as the University of Maryland’s club cricket team waited to start its journey in the National College Cricket Association’s championship.

The rain on March 21 and 22 — what would’ve been the first two days of the competition — postponed games and threatened the tournament. Finally, play began on the third day. This university’s club cricket team won its first five games handily and advanced to the championship game before narrowly losing to the University of Wisconsin’s club team.

“We ended up actually getting a runners up cup, which I mean, it’s a mixed bag,” Ritvik Varkhedkar, the club’s founder and former president, said. “It wasn’t a bad tournament … it still stings. But it’s still a journey, you know?”

The club’s achievement is impressive — especially considering the team didn’t exist when Varkhedkar, a computer science major who graduated in December, arrived on campus.

He started building the club in fall 2021 after deciding he wanted to keep playing the sport he loved growing up.

[College Park to establish recreational sports leagues for senior citizens]

The club’s first practice reflected its fledgling status. Five to six people showed up to the Engineering Fields, where the lack of a proper playing surface limited what they could do.

When the team found out about a nearby cricket ground — the Metro Oval in Adelphi — Varkhedkar reached out to the owner. Soon, the team had proper surfaces to practice batting and bowling. Matches against local schools and regional tournaments followed, Varkhedkar said.

The team became an officially recognized club sport last semester, Ayman Bootwala, the club’s former treasurer and interim president, said.

“Going through the amount of hoops that UMD has set up … figuring out funding and all that stuff, I mean, that stuff was insane,” the senior economics and applied mathematics major said.

The team practiced twice a week before last month’s tournament, according to Varkhedkar. Their dedication paid off with their performance.

For freshman finance major Yash Gulati, the near-win marked his first time competing in a tournament. Gulati said he enjoyed seeing support from home in WhatsApp group chats.

At the end of the first day, the cricket club team won all three of its games. This university’s club cricket team beat University of California, Berkeley, by 25 runs to close out the group stage.

“No one expected to go this far and no one expected us to dominate this much,” Gulati said.

In the game against Berkeley, Shuaib Syed, a junior computer science major, caused three wickets — cricket’s term for outs — in a row for a hat trick. Syed, who plays minor league cricket and won bowler of the tournament, said he doesn’t usually celebrate during games but shouted and pointed in glee after the third wicket.

[UMD Anokha performs their way into a cappella club history]

“The amount of rain that happened, the wicket was very slow and aided in spinning,” Syed said. “I just try to keep it in the right spots, and it all worked out, I guess.”

The team advanced through the tournament with wins over University of Pennsylvania and UCLA.

The wins over the California teams were particularly impressive. Those teams are usually strong because high turnout and smooth weather allows them to play year-round, Varkhedkar said.

This university’s team’s run ended in the tournament final to Wisconsin, but its influence extends further into its community.

The team is largely made up of South Asian players — both first-generation immigrants and international students, Varkhedkar said.

For many players, including Gulati, the club has made a personal impact.

Gulati, now the team’s captain, is committed to growing the club further.

“I want to get the word out,” Gulati said. “I want to get people super involved in the club because I do believe we can make a community out of this club, more than just cricket.”