Members of Team Abu Dhabi celebrate with the trophy after winning the final.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
Team Abu Dhabi (TAD) clinched their first ECB U19 Inter-Emirates title since 2015 on Sunday, beating their Ajman rivals by 15 runs in a thrilling final. Batting first, TAD reached 264-9 from 50 overs, thanks to a century from opening batter Yayin Rai and captain Ethan D’Souza’s half century.
The pair put on 185 for the third wicket before D’Souza (89 from 121 balls) departed, with Rai eventually making 112 from 124 balls — hitting 10 fours and three sixes along the way — until his dismissal in the 46th over.
Both Rai and D’Souza were instrumental in defending the total, too, with Rai claiming 4-43 with the ball as he ended the tournament as both its highest run-scorer (335 runs) and second-highest wicket-taker (nine).
D’Souza, a Zayed Cricket Academy protege who has represented TAD in the Abu Dhabi T10 and the UAE U19s, ranked second behind Rai as the overall leading run-scorer and wrapped up victory with two late wickets of his own, with Yash Punja also chipping in with his 2-51.
It brought a fine end to the tournament for TAD, which held a perfect record after winning all three of their group games prior to claiming victory in the final.
This was TAD’s second victory in the competition. It was the inaugural ECB U19 Inter-Emirates champion in 2015 and Mervyn Pereira, Abu Dhabi Cricket Council’s Manager Cricket Operations, is hoping for yet more success to come from his teenage charges.
“All of us at Abu Dhabi Cricket Council are so proud of our U19s team, especially so considering that most of our kids have only just moved up from the U16s,” said Pereira.
“There is a huge amount of up-and-coming talent emerging from the UAE capital and it’s safe to say that cricket in Abu Dhabi is in safe hands and it has an exciting future. Our new Team Abu Dhabi Pathway
“Programme will further serve these players’ progress and we take great care in being able to shape their development as both talented cricketers and human beings.”
D’Souza said although the team was the tournament’s underdog, it was buoyed by immense self-belief instilled by the coaching staff.
“Although there were stand-out individual performances, everyone in the team put up their hands at different stages of the tournament and our team ethic made us a real force,” he explained.
“We’ve worked extremely hard on our development over the last two years, and we’ve been playing well in patches, but all the hard work is paying off and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this group.”
Abu Dhabi Cricket & Sports Hub (ADCSH), which hosts the Zayed Cricket Academy, was among those to pour praise on the Team’s efforts and likely future impact.
“These young players are helping to take the sport of cricket to a whole new level in Abu Dhabi, the UAE and wider region,” commented Matt Boucher, CEO, Abu Dhabi Cricket & Sports Hub. “They are proof positive of how investment in facilities and talent can drive personal and community development which will impact the future of the sport in this region and the wider community spirit.”