One Down: A Profile of the Bronx Science Coed Varsity Cricket Team

Propelled by novel talent and explosive growth from last year’s season, the Bronx Science Coed Varsity Cricket Team finally reached the city quarterfinals


Kareem Malik

Here is the Bronx Science Coed Varsity Cricket Team for 2022-2023 present at the Bronx High School of Science versus Lehman High School game. From Left to Right: Back Row: Abdul Gill (Captain) ’23, Awais Abid ’24, Rajdeep Banik (wicketkeeper) ’26, Abhinav Akella ’26, Siddharth Korukonda (Captain, wicketkeeper) ’23, Krithk Dhandia ’26, Aarav Dugar ’24, Adi Jain ’26, Emmanuel Satkunarajah ’23; Middle Row/Sitting: Junaid Mahi ’24, Kareem Malik (Captain) ’23, Sunay Chawla (Captain) ’25, Abdullah Ratol ’25, Arefin Soumeen ’24; Coach Mark Maraj middle, sitting; Not present: Arka Nath ’23, Arham Miah ’25, Talha Haque ’24, Shubham Patel ’24, Chahat Aujla ’25, Kamya Parikh ’24 (Manager), Jazmine Pawar ’24 (Manager), Krittika Chowdhury ’23, Manager (Photo Credit: May Sen ’24 Team Manager)

Crack! The Bronx Science Coed Varsity Cricket team’s cries can be heard a mile away. The fourth of Adi Jain’s sixes soars over the boundary, bringing him one boundary away from 50 runs, a half-century. He glances over and grins, this being only his second game since joining as a ninth grader a few months ago. At the moment, he is the most important player on the squad. 

The Bronx Science Coed Varsity Cricket team is possibly our school’s most unknown and underrated team. Most people, when asked about the sports offered at the school, are surprised to learn that such a team exists. To be fair, the team has never won a championship, and has only reached the playoffs twice in its thirty-plus years. Though unlucky in their previous seasons, they found success and have thrived during the Spring 2023 season.

2022 Season 

Because of the Coronavirus pandemic, cricket, along with other sports, was shut down for both the 2020 and 2021 seasons. The seniors and juniors of the time were never able to pass on their knowledge of the sport to the newer members of the unit, which left a large skill/experience gap between them. Along with this two-year hiatus, the previous Coach Keith Aaron also passed away, leaving the team without a mentor. Although the school found a replacement for the Spring 2022 season, the new Coach Mark Maraj, although very skilled and holding numerous championship titles in almost every other sport, was not a cricket player. 

Since many students had learned to focus their dedication to studies and other activities over the pandemic, the team, despite having almost twenty members, rarely had more than about eight at any given practice. This lack of practice, added to all the other aforementioned issues, meant that the players had a tough time improving. 

In the Bronx/Manhattan division, Bronx Science’s cricket league, there were four teams total, yet due to rain, cancellations, and other issues, fourteen games were scheduled for the 2022 season. Even out of those, only four were actually completed. The Bronx Science Wolverines won only one game, their first, essentially finishing bottom of their division; their performance in the field mirrored their lack of dedication, and lack of practice, off the field. 

At the close of the season, two new captains were named for the 2023 season, rising senior Kareem Malik ’23 (myself) and rising sophomore Sunay Chawla ’25. By the start of summer vacation, the team was at its lowest point. 

The new captains knew their infant squad was dangerously close to breaking since it had not even lasted a season. They told the members of the team who would be returning that they were to practice cricket as much as possible at home, whether it was in the form of actual batting/bowling (pitching) practice or just general fitness drills. Summer came, and everybody practiced in anticipation of what the next year would bring. 

2023 Season 

The team regrouped after the first day of school. Everybody was charged, ready to start the season, but they were also apprehensive about the challenges that lay ahead. The captains reassured the team that this year would be different, with better leadership and scheduling working in their favor. 

Then came the much-needed blessing. Joining this year would be four ninth graders who would revolutionize the cricket body. Nationally ranked, part of one of the best clubs in the state, and fully devoted to the sport, they were the shining angels of the future. This news could not have come at a better time, when the team was feeling a heavy loss without the strength of last year’s seniors. 

The new seniors, Kareem Malik ’23, Siddharth Korukonda ’23, and Abdul Gill ’23, in constant communication with Coach Maraj, eventually persuaded him that with the ninth graders’ skills and everybody’s resolve, this year would be a success. Together with the coach they made a plan for the Spring 2023 season, consisting of a tight focus on each individual player’s skills instead of having whole team practices and scrimmages as had been previously attempted. 

They held informal practices every few days at Harris Field in order to prepare before the start of the season. However, as the months flew by, academic and extracurricular commitments became more serious for most, and fewer people came to pre-season practices. By late February 2023, many people seemed to have forgotten about the team entirely.

Then March 2023 rolled around. With the approval of the coach, the captains and seniors scheduled tryouts, assuming roughly the same number of people would try out as last year, around thirty. Planned for a rare warm Tuesday followed by a chilly Thursday, everything seemed to go as planned. 

More than twice the number of people showed up, surprising everyone. The tryouts went quite smoothly. The four ninth graders showed their potential, completing nearly all the trials perfectly. 

The new squad was to be composed of the underclassmen of last year, the four stars, and a few more juniors and seniors added in. Although the new additions were mostly inexperienced in cricket, the team was brimming with confidence. 

The team would also be acquiring three players from other schools via the Public Schools Athletic League’s (PSAL) All-Access Program. The All-Access program was designed to allow students hailing from schools without sports programs to join teams at other schools. Although only the PSAL could determine which schools got which players, at least those underprivileged students were able to join some official unit without having to pay a fee to join a club instead. Bronx Science was to receive very experienced cricketers, who had the advantage of being juniors along with possibly being able to play for the Wolverines for two years, they could also teach the ninth graders during that time, and thus create a lasting improvement for the team. For about a month, practices went smoothly, with everyone learning much more than they had last year. 

Then disaster struck. Two of the three All-Access kids were taken by another school, which was not in accordance with the PSAL’s rules. Bronx Science fought to be able to take the players, but eventually the PSAL refused each school’s requests. The Wolverines lost two great players, the worst part being that while one would not be allowed to play for any school for the 2023 season, the other one, Behesti Munfare Chowdhury ’24, was being given to a school in Queens to play. 

The captains urged the team on, knowing that they were going to be up against great players anyway, and this turn of events was simply motivation to work harder. Around this time, two of the seniors, Siddharth and Abdul, with approval from the coach, were made additional captains. Since the current two would not be able to handle everything by themselves, as neither could come to practice every day, there were now four captains, who could organize team meetings, scrimmages, and pre-game practices. 

The team held practices and conditioning sessions every day, with almost everyone coming. It paid off. They kickstarted their first game with Sunay beating half of Stuyvesant High School’s batting order by himself, seizing 5 wickets and giving only 22 runs. Their second game was an extremely close loss against Thomas Edison High School, a tough opponent. The third, a victory against Lehman High School, was due to the partnerships between the opening batsmen growing stronger. Even more importantly, with the bowlers’ talents shining in every match, the team was speeding towards the playoffs. 

Six of the remaining seven games in the normal season were easy wins, with the only other loss coming from Newcomers High School, who had acquired Behesti, one of the All-Access players Bronx Science was supposed to receive. He went on to become a star throughout the city, effortlessly hitting multiple centuries (even a double century) and breaking more than a few records this season. 

The Wolverines’ own batsman Adi Jain ’26 belted a 100-run century against Aviation High School, after steady growth in previous games, nearly hitting multiple half-centuries. He ended the season with 346 runs, the highest in current Bronx Science history. Coupled with his potent pace bowling, he secured himself as this year’s team MVP. 

Out of the many achievements this year, some are special: ninth grader all-rounder Krithk Dhandia ’26 totaled 96 runs, and ended up dismissing the most opponents, with 17 wickets to his name due to his variation and control of the ball. Following closely was ninth grader Abhinav Akella ’26, with a couple less wickets, but whose batting improved greatly as the games progressed, ending with a solid 50 runs against the Queens High School of Teaching, and concluding the season with 135 runs. 

Siddharth set his record of the most stumpings as wicketkeeper, with 8 total outs, while also keeping up a steady flow of runs as the second-highest scorer overall, totaling beyond 150 over the season. Nearing Siddharth’s runs with a close 144, Abdul was the third highest run scorer, with the benefit of having a strike rate of over 200 percent, a major power source for Bronx Science’s batting in multiple tough situations.  

The rest of the team also grew remarkably, with the fielding effort leagues above last year’s; Arefin Soumeen ’24 alone had over ninety percent efficiency at the third man position throughout the season, only letting a couple of balls reach the boundary. Likewise in the field was Abdullah Ratol ’25, who, besides for stopping many runs, was vital to many run outs; his batting innings totaled 55 runs, more than double that of last year, cementing his place as a crucial opener in the batting lineup. 

2023 Playoffs 

The normal season ended with a 10-2 record, Bronx Science’s best showing in the last three decades. Only the second time they had qualified for the playoffs in decades, they were to face Prospect Heights High School for the first of their bracket games. The game was an easy win, with Kareem Malik taking 4 wickets for only 5 runs. 

However, this victory was soon overshadowed by the impending match against Jamaica High School, widely regarded as one of the most tenacious squads, alongside John Adams High School (the reigning champions), Richmond Hill, Hillcrest, John Bowne, and other difficult high schools. 

From the start, the odds were against the Wolverines. With a fire occurring on the E line, half of the players arrived late to the game, forcing a change in batting. Despite an Abdullah Krithk partnership scoring the most runs, the entire team was disbanded for a shoddy 49 runs. By the time all the players arrived, morale was at its lowest since last year. 

Then things went from bad to worse. Jamaica’s openers came to the crease, ready to finish the game in a few overs. And finish they did. Continuously bashing the ball for back-to-back boundaries, they reached the measly total of 50 in just 4 overs (24 deliveries), wrapping up Bronx Science’s extraordinary season with demoralizing ease. 

But it did not matter; this year’s team had done exponentially better than ever before, and it was due to every player’s growth, under the captains’ and Coach Maraj’s supervision. The Wolverines finished the Spring 2023 season with a final record of 11-3. And I am proud to say that I was a member, and a captain, of the Bronx Science Varsity Cricket Team, knowing the great things that they will continue to accomplish in the future. 

But it did not matter; this year’s team had done exponentially better than ever before, and it was due to every player’s growth, under the captains’ and Coach Maraj’s supervision.