Aryan Ayyiapa’s decision to play for JSS Blitz paid off as he put on a man-of-the-match show in a 78-run win over Repton Royals, while Under-13 holders Modern Heros opened their title defence on a winning note.
Ayyappa should have been making a splash in the pool after being picked for an inter-school tournament on Saturday, but instead followed his heart in a sport he loves and came up with the goods.
In humid conditions, JSS Blitz posted 120-4 before Ayyiapa rose to the occasion taking three wickets as Royals were restricted to 42-8.
The 12-year-old was rewarded with a high-five from coach Nisha Ali, and Ayyiapa said: “As much as I love swimming, I really do love cricket and it’s a sport that I’m very passionate about and it motivates me.”
He added: “It feels good that I did well. I just stuck to my basics and everything clicked. But we would not have been able to win without my team-mates as cricket is a team game.”
Smart fielding proved the difference as Modern Heros registered an eight-wicket victory over DPS Falcons.
Batting first Falcons reached 49-8 in an innings that saw five of their batsmen run-out. Heros made light work of the run chase with Ronak Panoly (23) and Varun Nayanar (19) setting the platform for victory.
Heros’ coach Shafiq Ahmad said: “We are the defending champions and want to build on this start. DPS Falcons are one of the best sides so it was good comprehensive win. We played as a team but we still can improve.”
Elsewhere, Ryan George took two wickets and scored an unbeaten 14 as Winchester Cobras beat DESC Diamonds by 10 wickets. After DESC Diamonds were restricted to 52-6, George and Arshay Kathpalia (16no) saw Cobras home.
There were some strong individual and team performances as the second edition of the ADIB National School League got off to an exciting start in Dubai on Saturday.
Twelve teams began their quest for glory at 7he Sevens Cricket Grounds and despite the scorching heat, the stars of tomorrow showed glimpses of their potential with both bat and ball.
With Under-15 champions DPS Sharjah not competing, there will be new winners and DPS Falcons sent out a strong message with a comfortable seven-wicket victory over JC Heat, while Winchester Cobras defeated DESC Diamonds by eight wickets.
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It didn’t take long for the first half-century of the new season to arrive as Swabhanu Khosla hit an unbeaten 68 as Modern Heros beat Repton Royals by 95 runs.
Having finished fourth in the overall batting standings with 258 runs in the Under-13 category last season, Khosla showcased his continued improvement with a superb innings.
After his side lost two early wickets, Khosla remained composed at the crease but gradually upped the tempo, hitting seven boundaries and one maximum in his 44-ball knock. His effort helped Heros post a competitive 181-5 in their 20 overs, with valuable contributions from Daksh Ramani (34) and Varun Nayanar (31).
Set a daunting target, Royals never got going with the bat, posting 89-5 with Govind Verma and Rajvir Paul each taking three wickets for Heros.
It was no surprise Khosla was named man of the match, but the 13-year-old paid tribute to the bowlers after an excellent display.
He said: “Our bowlers did really well and they have to take most of the plaudits for this victory. Repton Royals are a good side but our bowlers bowled really tightly so it was difficult for them to score the runs.”
Repton Royals captain Kareem Jafree praised Khosla but insists there’s still plenty of positives to take from the game.
“Khosla was really good and we played him when he was on top of his game,” he said. “We fielded reasonably well but the heat affected us as we ran out of energy during the game. If we can improve on our fielding and just tighten our bowling and batting, then we should do well in the remaining games.”
It was an NSL debut to remember for Winchester Cobras’ Dhyan Shah as his four-wicket haul sealed an eight-wicket victory over DESC Diamonds. The spinner was in top form, finishing with 4-7 as Diamonds were all out for 39.
Prithvi Venkat then top-scored with 13 as Cobras reached their target in the fifth over.
“It’s a match that I will remember for a long time,” said 14-year-old Shah. “I just stuck to my strengths and that did the damage and I am happy that we won the game.”
Last season’s Under-13 Most Valuable Player Aryan Lakra made an early case for achieving the same feat in the older age group with a strong performance as DPS Falcons recorded a big victory over JC Heat.
Set a target of 93, the 13-year-old captain led from the front with an unbeaten 38, including seven boundaries, as he and Rishab Mukherjee (2) saw Falcons home in the 14th over.
“It feels really good to win the opening game of the NSL and carry on from where I ended last season,” said the all-rounder. “It was quite a challenging game because of the heat and luckily we played to our strengths and got the victory.”
Following the success of its first edition, Sport360’s Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) National School League (NSL) is back for another season, giving the opportunity for budding cricketers to showcase their talent in a unified league.
Hat-tricks, last-ball wins and a first century were just some of the highlights in an action-packed five-month tournament, and season two promises to serve up some thrilling displays with 48 teams from 30 schools signed up already.
With registrations closing on Tuesday, there’s still time to join in what will be another successful tournament.
Backed by the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), the ADIB NSL has earned rave reviews from players, parents and even 2011 World Cup winning coach Gary Kirsten.
It’s part of Sport360’s drive in promoting a healthy lifestyle and developing talent at grassroot levels, allowing the stars of tomorrow to pit themselves against the best in a unified schools league in the UAE.
ECB national development manager Andrew Russell said: “It’s great to hear that NSL is returning next month. It’s a really good tournament as it allows the youngsters to get good exposure in highly competitive games. It meets the requirements in the development of cricket in the UAE, which is very important for us at the ECB.”
Having been crowned champions after thrilling victories in February, Under-13 and Under-15 champions GEMS Modern Academy and DPS Sharjah will attempt to defend their titles beginning October 3.
There will be two age categories – U-13 and U-15 – with schools divided into separate groups according to their geographical location – Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. U-13 games will consist of 15 overs each side, while U-15 is a Twenty20 format.
Each team will be guaranteed five matches in the round-robin stage, with the top-two advancing to the quarter-finals.
Matches will be played at weekends on turf-wickets at Sharjah’s Skyline University, Dubai’s Sevens Stadium and Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Stadium and Nursery Ovals.
Those who reach the final will have the opportunity to play at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on January 29, 2016.
Speaking about their sponsorship of the ADIB NSL, head of retail banking Philip King said: “ADIB is excited to continue and extend our unique participation in grassroots cricket in the UAE with NSL and Sport360. Our sponsorship of this event comes as part of our commitment to support key community initiatives that promote healthy living among the youth.
“ADIB was a founding sponsor of the NSL in the successful 2014/15 season and is further enhancing its partnership by becoming title sponsor for the 2015/16 season.”
OSN, National Ambulance and Malabar Gold and Diamonds are supporting the event while Cricket Radio are the media partners. Registration can be made by emailing [email protected] or calling 0522443906.