Shillong, Mar 24: Shillong Cricket Association (A) won a nerve-jangling final of the U-23 Boys Inter District Cricket Tournament by one wicket over Tura District Cricket Association here today.
In a thrilling low-scoring contest, Tura were all out for only 127 but then fought valiantly in the field and almost snatched victory but Zone 1 winners SCA (A) snuck through with tailenders PM Santhosh and Ayush Rabha at the crease.
Tura started the morning by winning the toss. Blustery winds made it a challenge all-round but the Zone 2 winners started reasonably well, with Rashid Islam making 25 and No. 3 Josiah Cheran Momin 18. Jaskirat Singh Sachdeva broke that promising partnership and claimed another two wickets to finish with figures of 3/33.
Tura were down to 82/6 before Manish Sharma (25) and Aniket Basfor (21) made 43 for the seventh wicket but another quick rush of wickets then saw SCA (A) sweep aside the tailenders and bowl out the opposition for 127. Leg-spinner Rabha claimed 2/10, Santhosh 2/19 and Raghav Magotra 2/28.
The hosts started their chase well, losing just one wicket for the first 50 runs thanks to a run-a-ball 37 from Mrinal Das. However, things started to unravel thanks to Sharma, who went on to claim 4/26 in 10 impressive overs, and Shillong were reduced to 54/4.
Magotra (18) and Zahir Alam (12) halted the slide somewhat and it then appeared as though SCA (A) had the game in the bag as they reached 100 for no further loss. However, as Meghalaya Cricket Association Honorary Secretary Gideon Kharkongor mentioned at the prize distribution ceremony, temperament is still an area that the youngsters need to work on. With just 28 runs to get, SCA (A) lost four wickets for another 12 runs, which left the match in the balance.
Two wickets were taken by Brian Lara M Sangma (2/15), while Nikrang Sangma, with just one stump to aim at, threw down the wickets with a stunning direct hit.
In the end it came down to Santhosh and Rabha. The latter, the No. 11, was cheered by his team mates in the pavilion every time he blocked out a delivery and it was up to Santhosh to smash a boundary off Purav Agarwal (2/38) to claim the victory.
For his 25 runs and four wickets, Sharma was named man-of-the-match. Sachdeva, who took 12 wickets over the course of the tournament, was declared man-of-the-series.
(Meghalaya Cricket Association photo)