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ACC U14 overcome talented Excelsior team to win KNCB U14-title

U14 kampioen[by Mark Mulready, pictures by Nitin Potdar, click here]     After winning pool A of the competition, twelve somewhat nervous and excited ACC U14 cricketers arrived at the VRA grounds ready to take on the winners of pool B, Excelsior.  An overcast morning had resulted in lots of dew on the outfield and wicket.  Coach Zulfi and Captain Shirase set a plan to win the toss and bat first.  Two reasons… a wet ball means it is difficult to bowl and a posting a good score batting first in a final always adds more pressure to the opposition.  Shirase called the toss correctly and the plan got underway.

Like most plans, they are not always perfect and when Shirase was run out in the second over there was some nervous twitches amongst the players, coaches and parents.  Fortunately Jamieson was not affected and with new partner Sanjay, they went to work building the innings. 

With the clouds clearing and the ground in brilliant sunshine, both boys played intelligent cricket occupying the crease, working the ball around taking plenty of one and twos and punishing bad balls with boundaries. The result was a great partnership which took the score from 12 in the 2nd over to 103 in the 17th over before Jamieson pushed his luck a little too far backing up at the bowlers end and was run out for a very valuable 40 runs.

The plan had been working well until this point but the Excelsior bowlers hit back hard resulting in the loss of Sanjay for a well compiled 31 runs.  Two more quick wickets meant that the game had changed complexion, but Arnav is the man for a crisis.  He did a fine job to steady the ship whilst Excelsior continued to exert pressure with excellent ground fielding and bowling causing steady loss of wickets.

ACC were eventually dismissed for 151 runs in the 29th over with Arnav 23 not out.  ACC would have been hoping for a higher score given the start, but it was a great effort by Excelsior to come back into the game and restrict the score to something which could be chased.  Pick of the bowlers for Excelsior were Mathijs with 6 overs 3 for 15 and Glenn 6 overs 2 for 24.

Coach Zulf gave the boys a good fielding warm up and addressed them about the importance of bowling straight, taking the chances, supporting each other and playing as a team.  The boys must of listened as the first wicket fell on 11 with a nice caught and bowled to Arnav.  Sanjay then picked up another caught and bowled with the score on 19.  The third wicket fell to Krishnan caught behind by Jamieson with the score on 34 in over number 11.  Then came a great partnership between Stan and Mathijs who took the score to 99 in the 24th over before Arnav struck again with Mathijs being caught and bowled by Arnav for 22 runs.  Two more wickets in quick succession to Arnav and the boys were piling on the pressure.  Shreyas then struck a decisive blow taking the wicket of Stan for a fighting 38 runs.  Further wickets to Shreyas and Krishnan resulting in Coach Zulfi calling on our cult hero Abishek to bowl the final ball.  He didn’t disappoint, clean bowling the last batsman to finish the innings of Excelsior for 113.  The boys mobbed Abishek in the middle of the wicket celebrating a fine win before handshakes with the brave young Excelsior team who I am sure will come back better next year.  Pick of the bowlers for ACC were Sanjay with 2 overs 1 for 8, Krishnan 5 overs 2 for 17, Arnav 6 overs 3 for 26 and Shreyas 6 overs 3 for 13.

 Marieke and Roland then addressed the teams on playing such a fine game in good spirit before the medals were presented and Captain Shirase and the team lifted the winner’s trophy.  A fine season and final game that I’m sure the boys will cherish for years to come.

A big thank you to the ACC Club and the Youth Committee, particularly Suresh, for your support throughout the season.  Many thanks also to the parents for your dedication and assistance with scoring, travel, ground set-up, coaching etc. throughout the season.

Many thanks to Nitin for your fine organization and management of the team week to week.  Your hard work made it so easy for everyone to be at the right place at the right time!

Finally, a very special thanks to Zulfi and all the coaching staff that put so much time and effort into the U14 team from winter training right through the summer which lead to this successful result.  There are many talented players in the group who are destined for higher honors if they continue to work hard under your guidance.