Sharjah: UAE emerged as champions of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Under-16 Western Region tournament with a fine allround display. In the final, UAE defeated Kuwait by five wickets after making the title clash following an emphatic nine-wicket win over Saudi Arabia in the semi-final.
Speaking to Gulf News after lifting the trophy, UAE captain Aryan Lakra, who was instrumental in ensuring an unbeaten run for his team, said: “It was a super allround show from our team. All the players did a fantastic job throughout the tournament. Winning the title for the country was important for everyone.”
Lakra, who bowled tight spells in all the matches to finish as the second leading wicket-taker of the tournament with six wickets, said: “It was self-belief and bonding which led to this successful campaign and the efforts put in by our coaches Qasim Ali, Shah Hussain and Andrew Russell guided us the right way.”
In the semi-final and final, allround Ronak Panoly was the star for the team, sparkling with the bat and ball. He hit an unbeaten 60 against Saudi Arabia and took two wickets in the semis and, in the final, he scored a valuable 30.
Ansh Tandon, who bagged the best batsman honours, chipped in with a knock of 47 in the semi-final and amassed 250 runs from his four matches.
Panoly, delighted at his match-winning performances, said: “I carried on the confidence from my century against Maldives and, as a bowler, bowled in the right areas to build up pressure. It feels nice that I could produce such a performance and I am looking forward to being selected to UAE Under-19 team now.”
Tandon too has gained in confidence after his consistent showing. “It was a good tournament for me and the UAE team. We all worked hard to win the title. My aim of focusing on scoring big helped me.”
Middle order batsman Shoun Roger, who chipped in with 25 runs in the final, was another consistent performer for the team.
A. Mohammad, who topscored in the final with 41 runs too displayed his ability to consistently deliver vital runs lower down the order.
In the final, Kuwait posted a challenging 137 for nine, thanks to Gokul Sunil Kumar’s 50 runs despite Lakra’s tight spell of two wickets from seven overs for 16 runs.
Lakra was backed up admirably by Chathiaya Huppegoda and J. Yuvraj with two wickets each. Chasing the target, UAE lost Tandon for just four but Lakra (15) and Roger put on 31 runs for the third wicket before Mohammad steered the team to victory with his fluent 41, which was studded with three sixes and two fours.