On Friday, Zenith saw their U-14 and U-17 teams book their berth in next month’s championship deciders and their U-12s capped the weekend on a high by standing top of their class at United Pro Sports after their six-run defeat over DPS Falcons.
Designed to give the boys a pathway of playing in the older age groups in the future, the players were given a taste of the competition in an indoor cricket format which only enhanced the quality of the matches.
With most rules similar to the outdoor game, each player bowled one over and batted as a pair for two overs.
For each wicket that fell, the batting team lost five points but the batsman could still continue until the allotted two overs (termed as sessions) were over.
There were many closely-fought encounters throughout the day and the final was no different as both sides went into the game with a 100 per cent record. Batting first, Falcons got off to a strong start with 20 on the board after two sessions thanks to Sriram Veera’s 17.
But Deepak Raj and Aayan Khan rattled Zenith back with two run-outs and three catches as Falcons were pegged back at -17. But they managed to reach 16 in their allotted overs thanks to a valuable 10 from Tanish Suri.
In reply, Zenith were cautious in their chase and found themselves on 10 after two sessions. Raj, who scored 42 runs in the group stages, stepped up with the bat with a blistering 10 including a six as Falcons led 23-16 after the third session.
That would have sealed victory but given that runs are deducted for a wicket falling, Falcons were still in with a chance.
But Haren Shetty (3) and Adithya Vinod Nayar (-4) did enough to hold off the fightback with Zenith finishing with 22 runs.
That sparked celebrations among the Zenith players who huddled together on the pitch. The tournament was even more memorable for them as they took a clean sweep of the best individual accolades.
Nayar was named best wicket-taker with seven scalps while Raj wowed the panel with the final man-of-the-match, Most Valuable Player and Best Batsman awards.
“It’s a good feeling to have claimed all these fantastic awards,” said Raj, who took three wickets in the final. “We worked very hard in the training sessions and now it’s paid off.”
Having seen his team taste success in the U-12s NSL, Zenith coach Sanoj Abdu hopes this could be the start of a treble.
“Inshallah, we are working hard and focusing on the finals so let’s see,” he said. “I cannot ask anything more from my players today.”
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