For the second straight year, Our Own Zenith booked their ticket to the Under-17 ADIB NSL final but will need to overcome city rivals DPS Sharjah if they want to get their hands on the winning trophy.
Zenith showed why they were last season’s U-15 champions by condemning SKBZ Pak Eagles to their first defeat of the season in a six-wicket semi-final victory at The Sevens.
Prior to the match, Zenith team manager Vijay Jugran had spoken of his confidence his bowlers would deliver and they duly delivered with Muhammad Anwar (68) just one of three batsmen to reach double figures while Glenn Fernandes (2-24) again showed his potential with the ball.
The target of 142 was far from an easy run chase with Eagles’ bowlers making things difficult. But
Mohamed Ajmal was in a world of his own, smashing three maximums and a boundary in his 52-run knock from 38 balls.
Ajmal, having fallen 10 runs short of his half-century in last week’s quarter-final, was pleased to have delivered in a crucial match.
“I feel really proud to help the team and our primary objective was not to lose a wicket in the first few overs,” said the opening batsman. “We did that and from then on, it was just about maintaining the run-chase and keep scoring the runs.
“It feels really good to reach the final and as we are the defending champions, we are looking to carry on the good form in the final.”
His side will be fully aware of the threat posed by Sharjah who claimed the bragging rights after their seven-wicket triumph against Falcons in the DPS derby.
Ruthless bowling from especially Hardik Pai (3-27) saw Falcons score 112-5 in their 20 overs. But it needed an heroic knock from Sharjah wicketkeeper Hardik Nehra to seal victory.
Needing 60 runs to win from nine overs, Nehra took charge with an aggressive 37 runs which included four boundaries and a maximum. He was well supported from Owais Sajid’s (24no) as their 61-run stand eventually saw them through.
It was no surprise that Sharjah skipper Devnath Menon lauded the last partnership particularly Nehra, who was named man of the match.
“Hardik played extremely well and when we needed the runs, he stepped up,” said the 16-year-old. “The players stuck to the plan and it was a great team effort. Let’s hope for the best in the final.”
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