It was another all Sharjah final in the ADIB National National School League Cricket season. The Under 17 boys of DPS looked to halt the NSL dominating school of Our Own Zenith.
The Under 14 Final of ADIB National School League Cricket was an all Sharjah affair that played out in the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. The action did not disappoint as Our Own Zenith and DPS Sharjah fought hard for NSL glory.
Our Own Zenith will have to make space for two new trophies in their cabinet as they put themselves into the record books of the ADIB NSL after a double victory over neighbours DPS Sharjah.
Both schools made the short trip to Sharjah knowing they could make history of becoming the first teams to win both the age categories in the same season since the competition launched in 2014.
And it was Zenith who rose to the occasion and delivered when it really mattered to claim the Under-14 and U-17 crowns on Saturday.
Given the magnitude of the feat, it was only fitting that the matches were played at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, which is fully aware of what it’s like to be part of history – having hosted more ODIs (226) than any other ground.
From Sachin Tendulkar’s memorable ‘sandstorm’ innings against Australia in 1998 to Javed Miandad’s famous last ball six against India in 1986, the stadium boasts some rich memories and it was a chance for the players to create their very own on the same field.
In a vibrant atmosphere in the U-14 final, DPS Sharjah were dealt an early blow after winning the toss when Aayan Khan removed Nathan Shibu in just the fifth delivery.
Aryansh Sharma (5) and Arkadeep Das (25) kept the scoreboard ticking with a 25-run stand but that was as good as it got as Zenith gradually took control.
Their cause wasn’t helped by Khan’s lethal bowling as well as smart keeping from Shree Vishnu, who was alert behind the stumps.
The 13-year-old punished the DPS batsmen with one run-out and three stumpings as DPS reached 63-7 in their 15 overs.
Although it was a low target, Zenith did not get off to a bright start, losing Khan on a run-out with 17 on the board. But with in-form skipper and top run-scorer Shoun Roger at the crease, there was still hope.
If there was one person DPS needed to get rid of, it was Roger. But having started slowly, it didn’t take long for him to unleash his batting potential. The 14-year-old found fired two consecutive boundaries with his team at 42-1 at the half-way mark.
As each run was scored, it was celebrated with a chorus of noise from the vuvuzelas from the Zenith players. DPS temporarily delayed the celebrations when Aryan Sexena was dismissed but ironically it was one of their most consistent players – Roger who wrapped up the seven-wicket victory with a boundary.
That saw him hoisted on the parents’ shoulders but it was Vishnu who was awarded Player of the Final. “It’s a proud moment for me and the team and I just wanted to make sure I kept focused and stick to my game behind the stumps,” said Vishnu.
Their celebrations were watched by Zenith’s U-17 side and they matched the feat with a clinical performance over the same opponents.
Having lost an early wicket, skipper Niel Lobo (90no) and Brandon Martis (71no) took charge with a mammoth 169-run stand for the second wicket.
Even towards the end, they showed no signs of slowing down, scoring 26 off the last over to set DPS a target of 182 in 20 overs.
Prior to the game, DPS coach Vikram Dutt admitted his troops would have to deal with Zenith’s bowling attack but they had no answer. Captain Devnath Menon (21) was just one of two to reach double figures as Syed Ashir (2-15), Pradhyuma Jagdish (2-10) and Glenn Fernandes (2-12) wrapped up the 84-run win and another NSL crown.
For Martis, he was named MVP and could not hide his delight.
“I wasn’t involved in last year’s U-15 title win and I really wanted to win this trophy really badly and now I have.”