A top Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) official admits it will be difficult to select the best group of cricketers to represent the UAE Under-16 team after being impressed with the talent he saw in this season’s Inter-Emirate tournament.
More than 50 promising youngsters from Ajman, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah were in action as they looked to catch eye of selectors and make a case for donning the national jersey.
Captain Aryan Lakra pressed his case with an unbeaten 100 (12 fours and one six) off 109 deliveries as Dubai retained their title after an eight-wicket victory over Ajman Cricket Council.
Ronak Panoly (317 runs), Lakra (222) and Vriitya Arvand (162), all of Dubai, were the three to score tons. Lakra (eight), Adithya Shetty (seven), Yuvraj Jaisingh and Anwar Khan (both six) were among the top wicket-takers.
The ECB will now analyse all performances before selecting a shortlist of 20 for a four-month training camp ahead of naming their final squad for the West Asia tournament in Qatar in September.
Andrew Russell, national development manager of the ECB, said: “We have a good bunch of youth players coming through which is good to see just from this tournament alone.
“There were a lot of good batting performances and big scores which is always nice to see, while the bowling was very good.
“Hopefully, the boys who do get selected can step up after a few practice sessions and compete internationally.”
Lakra is hoping to make the final shortlist for the second time after making the cut in the U-16 and U-19 categories.
“Since I was selected last year, I felt I needed to lead from the front and I was happy to do that,” said the 15-year-old.
“To score a century in the final is fantastic and I was focused on helping my team win the title. There were a lot of players I hadn’t played against which was a bit difficult, but it shows that there is a very good pool of players.
“I hope I’ve done enough to make the next round because it was a real honour to represent the UAE Under-19s last year and would love to do it again.”