Taking India's favourite sport up a notch in New Jersey With summer right around the corner, cricket season and the excitement that comes with it has already begun in the USA, especially here in New Jersey. The Millennium Cricket League (MCL) of New Jersey, founded in 2001 and providing one of the finest cricketing experiences, had its first round of competitive matches on April 23.

The members of the teams will be devoting their Saturdays to play 40-over match, lasting up to 8 hours until the season is over. Watching the match between the Jersey Giants and Woodbridge was a great reminder of how deeply cricket is rooted into the realms of our culture. Even with a sweeping 62 runs win by the Giants, they didn't forget to acknowledge the efforts of the other team with supportive smiles and handshakes. This goes to show that apart from focus, dedication, teamwork and practice, a good attitude is equally important. Maninder Singh, the vice president of MCL and captain of Jersey Giants, took out time to answer a couple of questions after the win.

What drives you and the rest of the team to play cricket?

"Cricket is progressively growing popular in USA. While it is still being mostly played by South East Asian immigrants and Caribbeans, Americans are slowly developing a taste and interest for the shorter version of the game. For us, to be able to play organized cricket outside India is a dream come true. When I first landed in the US, I couldn't imagine the sport being so popular. The passion of being a part of this growth and leading a cricket club in a league that now attracts international professional players is quite exciting. Cricket also gets me to meet friends, with whom now I've developed long lasting relationships, on and off the ground. This sport gets communities together and whittles down political boundaries. The zeal to perform on ground and desire to win, rubs me to perform better in my individual professional career as well."

Why did you choose cricket over any other sport?

"Being born and raised in India, cricket is in our hearts and souls. Having grown up watching idols like Sachin, Dravid, Ganguly, cricket is so deeply ingrained in our hearts. It gives a sense of home outside our home. While we do engage in leisurely sports like basketball or American football, the growing interest in cricket among hordes of other people in the US, gives us easy access to playing this sport. Local townships and governments are encouraging the sports and providing us grounds to play the game."

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