NSL returns for third edition

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Exciting battle: The ADIB NSL will return in October.

Registration is now open for the only unified schools league competition in the UAE as the stars of tomorrow showcase their cricketing skills against their peers.

Modern Heros (Under-13) and Our Own Zenith (Under-15) triumphed last season with former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara the guest of honour at Finals Day at the Sevens.

But there will be new champions come January 2017 with two new age groups – Under-14 and Under-17 introduced. As well as the two new age groups the NSL will also be launching a 16-team Under-12 indoor development league in January 2017.

The U-14 matches will consist of 15 overs, while the U-17s will play Twenty20. The significant change means that a wider pool of players from approximately 32 schools and 56 teams will battle it out for the coveted trophy with the group stages played in October and November ahead of the knockouts in January 2017.

Teams will be split into different groups, according to their geographical location – Dubai, Sharjah Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.

Just like the previous years, matches will be played on turf wickets with The Sevens (Dubai), Skyline University (Sharjah), Nursery Ovals (Abu Dhabi) and for the first time Al Ain Equestrian and Golf Club, all confirmed as venues for the new season.

The tournament has gone from strength to strength since launching in 2014 and has earned rave reviews from players and parents.

Providing a platform for the UAE national set-up, NSL received a huge boost in August when three players – Jonathan Figy, Ansh Tandon and Aryan Lakra, who have featured in the event, were rewarded with a place in the UAE Under-19 squad for September’s 2018 World Cup qualifiers in Malaysia.

Sport360° will have plenty of content for players and followers to stay up-to-date through www.nsl360.com featuring news, game highlights, stats and live scoring.

For more information and to register, please e-mail [email protected]

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#NSL360: UAE side Our Own Zenith to face some of England’s best schools

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That winning feeling: Our Own Zenith savour their triumph in the U-15 section of the NSL.

Sport360°’s ADIB National School League (NSL) champions Our Own Zenith will get a chance to add to their trophy cabinet when they test themselves against strong English sides during this month’s ARCH Cup in the UAE.

The Sharjah outfit, who defeated Abu Dhabi Indian School by seven runs in January’s Under-15 final, will join the capital’s Zayed Academy as the two home teams looking to make an impact in the Twenty20 competition, which begins on March 29.

King Edward’s Birmingham, Hampton, Ipswich, St John’s Leatherhead and Eton College are among the visiting schools that stand in their way of claiming glory.

For Zenith, it will be their first chance to come up against some of England’s promising youngsters having conquered the UAE’s best during the NSL this season.

Coach Fostus Xavier, insists his boys looking forward to the opportunity in the ARCH (Arabian Cricket Challenge) Cup.

“It’s a great chance to play against the good teams and it will be a good experience for my players,” he said.

“The English teams will have a different style to playing and we have to adapt quickly because it’s a lot different to what we are used to when we play teams in the UAE.

“They will learn so many things from playing in these games and the experience will certainly be beneficial for everyone. The boys are excited and as coach, even I’m excited.”

In the Under-19 ARCH Trophy, which begins on March 27, Dubai International Academy, Dubai College, Zayed Academy and ICC Warriors will be looking to fly the UAE flag high.

But they face stern competition with Eastbourne, Cheltenham, Radley and Northern Ireland’s Royal Belfast Academical Institution also in contention.

For Sport Arabia’s managing director Matthew Jackson, who organised the two competitions, insists it will be a great learning curve for all the boys. It’s crucial for the players to get experience in different environments and teams,” he said. “For the UAE-based teams, it’s very useful for them to play against international teams.

“Particularly Dubai College and Zayed Academy have found it extremely useful in developing their players and it’s a great chance to see where they stand.

“Given that the level of UAE cricket is improving rapidly and the sheer talent they have, the international teams will certainly be tested this summer.”

For the first time, umpires will be brought in from overseas.

“Umpiring in this part of the world is very different to what they will experience in the UK. It will be quite challenging in the hot heat but will be good experience for them,” added Jackson.

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#NSL360: Setting a new benchmark in excellence as second season proved a big success

Denzil Pinto 10/02/2016
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Top gun: Jonathan Figy (l) was the MVP in the U-15 category.

Considering the inaugural edition lived up to its expectations, then this season’s ADIB NSL certainly raised the bar, resulting in exceptional individual and team performances.

Centuries, five-wicket hauls and the first ever Super Over won by GEMS Our Own Indian School (GOOIS) were just some of the highlights as the four-month competition came to a close on January 29.

Giving the stars of tomorrow the chance to play on turf wickets it was no surprise that 44 teams from across the country were part of the only unified schools competition in the UAE and backed by the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB).

Forward march: Bright Riders celebrate their quarter-final entry in Abu Dhabi.

Forward march: Bright Riders celebrate their quarter-final entry in Abu Dhabi.

Split into groups according to their geographical location – Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, competition was fierce with the top two qualifying for the knock-outs.

But after 134 games, it was defending champions Modern Heros and maiden winners Our Own Zenith who were celebrating on the podium, coming top in the Under-13 and Under-15 categories respectively.

They were indeed worthy champions especially having gone through the entire campaign with a perfect win record, while U-13 and U-15 runners-up DPS Sharjah and Abu Dhabi Indian School were undefeated in the group stages.

Their achievements were more remarkable, given the wide array of talented youths who did not disappoint with the bat and ball.

In the U-13 category, Ronak Panoly put himself into the record books by becoming the first NSL centurion when he smashed 102 runs in Modern Heros’ 125-run victory over JSS Blitz. He left spectators in awe with nine boundaries and seven maximums off 43 deliveries.

That effort, along with a half-century against DPS Sharjah in the final, saw him finish as top run-scorer with 251 runs from six innings.

GOOIS’ Mohammad Mujtaba and Deira Daredevils’ Jash Jiyanani finished as joint top-wicket takers with 15 scalps with the latter one of four players claiming five-wicket hauls.

Jiyanani was joined by Bright Riders’ Soorya Sathish, DPS Sharjah’s Aditya Manglani and DPS Falcons’ Aditya Shetty, who between them took 43 scalps.

Zenith’s Shoun Roger was crowned the Most Valuable Player and the 13-year-old all-rounder was overwhelmed with the prized award.

He said: “I practice with my dad a lot and I dedicate this award to him and everyone who have helped me become the player that I am now.”

If the ECB were encouraged by the displays in the U-13 competition, then the future certainly looked bright based on the U-15 tournament.

Jonathan Figy didn’t take long to get off the mark – registering his first century (111, 16 fours and one six) in his side’s opening 152-run victory against Al Bateen SS.

He started making tons a habit, achieving the feat a further two times, while managing at least a half-century in each of the six games he played in.

He topped the runs tally with 594. He wasn’t the only one to reach triple figures with PAK Hawks Sharjah’s Muhammad Azaz Sajid achieving the feat with an unbeaten 107 in their 180-run triumph over NIMS Rising Stars.

In the bowling department, Zenith’s Vishal Raj took the only five-wicket haul while Heros’ Varun Ravi topped the standings with 14 scalps.

While winning and losing is part of sport, players and coaches spoke glowingly of NSL.

“I want to thank Sport360 for organising this tournament,” said Figy, who was named U-15s MVP. “It’s a great way to showcase our abilities.”

And U-15 winning coach, Fostus Xavier, added: “We never had a chance like this when I was young. It’s a good way for children to handle pressure in match situations.”

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