Ronak Panoli was too hot to handle, stealing the show with a quick-fire half-century as Modern Heros retained their Under-13 ADIB NSL title with a comfortable nine-wicket victory over DPS Sharjah.
The opener was in fine form, hitting five sixes and six boundaries en route to his unbeaten 57 off just 23 balls as they reached their target of 77 in the sixth over.
Prior to the game, defending champions coach Shafiq Ahmed admitted his team, with a perfect record so far, needed luck when they faced an in-form DPS Sharjah side, who have registered eight straight wins in the competition.
But he, spectators and the players were treated to moments of brilliance at The Sevens Ground on Friday.
Firstly, Panoli played his part with the ball, taking one wicket as DPS were restricted to 76-8 in their 15 overs.
Only Saransh Kumar (19) and Arkadeep Das (11) reached double figures as Suyashveer Singh and Varun Ravi took two wickets each.
Panoli, who became the first U-13 NSL centurion earlier this season, returned to the field and this time he let the bat do the talking.
He hit three boundaries and two maximums in his first 11 deliveries before his partner Sidharth Tugnait (5) was removed by DPS skipper Nirmal Ratesar in the third over.
That was the only wicket to fall for DPS as they had no answer in stopping Panoli.
With Heros on 52-1 after just four overs, Panoli upped his game, scoring two consecutive fours before reaching his 50 off 20 deliveries with a six.
It was his second half-century but still with work to do, he wasn’t fazed by the feat.
Despite DPS trying their best, luck didn’t come their way.
All eyes were on Panoli and having found his rhythm at the crease, he ended the game on a high with six in the sixth over before being mobbed by his team-mates.
After the bowlers dominated the first innings, Panoli’s plan was always to “finish the game as quickly as possible.”
“It feels great to be champions and to win again is an amazing achievement,” he said. “I just wanted to finish the game as quickly as possible.”
DPS coach Ayub Iqbal admits Panoli was the difference.
“He played extremely well and if we got his wicket it could’ve been different,” he said. “But I cannot fault my players because they did exceptionally well.”
Heros’ Varun Nayanar added: “We never expected to win two in a row it’s a great feeling.”
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