Cambridge High School are not used to completing their games in near darkness but the bad light did not deter them as Mohammed Azzan and Karthik Meiyappan delivered when it really mattered to book their quarter-final berth in the ADIB NSL.
Up against BRS Tigers, plenty was riding in the final Abu Dhabi Under-17 group game with the winner claiming the sole knockout spot. Cambridge scored 112-8 in their 20 overs but the match really got into life in the second innings.
Azzan, who had scored with 37, dismissed three of the four top-order batsmen as Tigers were 65-4 after 13 overs.
With no floodlights to switch on and the sun coming down just after 17:00 UAE time, the task became more difficult. However, Tigers continued to keep the scoreboard ticking.
Needing 18 off the last over to win, there was still a chance for them but leg-spinner Meiyappan had the final say, claiming three scalps to wrap up the 16-run victory just after 17:40.
“I’ve been through a lot of moments like this before so I wasn’t feeling the pressure,” said Meiyappan. “It was quite difficult out there especially towards the end where it was hard to see but we gave a good performance and fielded really well and didn’t give too much away.”
Joining them in January’s knock-out stages are PAK Eagles, who maintained their perfect record. Their third victory came courtesy of a 35-run defeat over Merryland Kings as Khalid Mahmood starred with the bat and ball. The 16-year-old’s 38-runs and 4-20 effort proved decisive as Kings fell short of their 140-run target.
The display earned him the Man of the Match award but Mahmood still feels there’s room for improvement ahead the crucial knockouts.
“It’s a happy feeling to have done well in the group stages,” said all-rounder. “We knew ADIS could have sneaked in but we made sure we won.”
That result dashed Abu Dhabi Indian School’s (ADIS) hopes of reaching their third consecutive final despite beating Nadha by 146 runs in their last group match.
Last season’s MVP and top-scorer Jonathan Figy gave another reminder why he’s a bright future with 54 runs.
However, ADIS captain Sahil Hariani was disappointed their journey has now ended.
“We bowled and fielded well but it wasn’t enough. There’s a lot of positives to take from this tournament.”
In the same age group there was something finally to celebrate for Effians Army who ended their campaign on a high. Fazal Shahid scored 32 before taking three wickets to claim a 55-run win over Ruwais Champs.
In the only U-14 clash, ADIS made it three wins out of three, defeating BRS Tigers by 40 runs.