Our Own Zenith set up ADIB NSL U-14 final against DPS Sharjah

Denzil Pinto 20:00 20/01/2017
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Our Own hero: Zenith's Mohammad Mujtaba

GEMS Modernite’s dream of an ADIB NSL hat-trick is over as Mohammad Mujtaba delivered when it really mattered to guide Our Own Zenith to the Under-14 final against DPS Sharjah.

Two-time U-13 champions Modernite travelled to The Sevens on Friday having made a name for themselves by winning all of their 20 matches since the competition began in October 2014.

But they were denied the chance to grab another shot at glory as Zenith maintained their perfect record to pull off a thrilling two-run victory that had players, coaches and spectators on their feet.

Chasing a target of 78 in 15 overs, Modernite who were 32-4 after six overs, needed nine off the last over to be celebrating.

But Mujtaba had other ideas. Given the ball by his skipper Shoun Roger, Mujataba was fully aware he could become a hero if he held his nerve and he did exactly that; conceding six runs as well as well as running out Dhariya Parikh on the last ball.

It was no surprise the dismissal sparked wild celebrations with Zenith coach Sanoj Abdu running onto the pitch.

“There was a lot of pressure on me  and it was a crucial over,” said the 13-year-old spinner. “Their batsmen were capable of hitting the ball and it was a big moment for me.

“I just kept my cool by bowling the correct ball and not giving away extras which was crucial. I am really happy to have delivered and win the match for us.”

The result means that the dream of claiming his first trophy is still very much alive for all-rounder Aayan Khan, who was named man-of-the-match after 25 runs and two-wicket haul.

“Our strategy was to score over 100 but that wasn’t possible,” he said. “We gave our best in the bowling and it paid off.

For Modernite coach Shafiq Ahmed, he was disappointed his team came short but admitted the best team won.

“They played good cricket and we have to give credit to the opponents,” he said. “I think my boys were over confident and we had a good chance to get a hat-trick in this tournament but sport is about losing and winning.”

While Modernite will have to wait another season to reclaim their crown, Zenith will be focused on stopping DPS Sharjah, who made it a double celebration for the school.

Earlier in the afternoon, their U-17 side booked their ticket to the final and the U-14s followed suit with a comprehensive 11-run triumph over Abu Dhabi Indian School (ADIS).

Being put in to bat, Sharjah reached a competitive 101-6 thanks to an unbeaten 38 from captain Nikhil Ratesar but it was neither he nor the bowlers who stole the show. That honour went to their wicketkeeper Nathan Shibu who punished the ADIS batsmen with four stumpings in a superb show.

Sharjah’s bowlers conceded 24 wides but ADIS struggled with the bat with only Nooran Thakur (31) and Arthik Bhatt (14) reaching double figures.

Shibu was taken by surprise after claiming the man of the match award and admits the accolade was the icing on the cake after reaching the final.

“I really can’t believe it,” said the 14-year-old. “To qualify for the final is an awesome feeling and I just wanted to play to the best of my ability. That meant being alert at the right times as the run-rate was getting tight but just took the most of the oppotunties that came to me”

For Sharjah coach Ayub Iqbal, he had nothing but praise for his players, insisting the boys were more motivated after the  U-17s side’s victory.

“Everyone stepped up and they all wanted to win and it was a complete performance,” he said.

“Our U-17 boys gave more motivation and they were charged up. ADIS are a very good side and they have good fast bowlers but we dealt with their strengths.”

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