From Akanimo Kufre (The New Diplomat’s A/Ibom|C/River Correspondent)
South-south U17 boys withstood cricket battles from five zones in the country to emerge champions during the Sunday finals of NCF/PwC U17 Cricket Championship held at the Edo Boys High School cricket pitch in Benin City.
South-south defeated arch rival North-west by 41 runs in a low scoring but tactful cricket finals that was nerve wrecking.
It was a game of runs versus wickets, sensible play against good thinking and plots set against schemes.
The finals of cricket match is usually a mixture of attacks and counter attacks, pleasure and pressure. This of course was cricket at its finest form.
The high scoring south-south were limited to 93 runs and loss of 10 wickets in 25.1 overs.
Elijah Saturday from Akwa Ibom again scored highest points for the south-south 26 run off 28 balls, while Destiny Chilemanya played 19 runs off 36 balls.
North- west came in hoping to contain the high scoring south-south under 100 runs, indeed their bowling was good and disciplined but the south-south unleashed its killer squad of bowlers, Prosper Useni, Oyemba Isaac, Destiny Chilemanya and Ogbemudia Eweka. their plot and pressure kept north- west off balance and they all fell to score only 52 runs all out in 18.0 overs.
North-west team thought they could easily score above 100 runs from 40 overs game but the southern enemy decimated north-west big guns like Paul Pam, Boniface Kenneth and Onwubualili Chidi in cluster of coordinated fielding attacks.
Coach Uthe Ogbemi said the game “put the young lad in test of pressure, in the final the tension was palpable in the end south-south looked all compact in every department of the game. It was their time and they won.”
National U19 coach observed.
The Nigerian Cricket Head Coach during the Sri Lankan world cup winner, Asanka Gurushinha who was watching the game alongside other coaches saw potentials in the kids and recommended more 40 overs game for the boys.
“Today’s game was what we expected, a tough competition. They played well and I wish there was high scores because it would have been good to see high scores and chasing. Both sides fought it out but the better side won. They are still very young; I think they have to grow up planning 40 overs game. That’s something they could learn, 40 overs is a long innings.”
Besides receiving the UK made trophies and medals, the teenage players received price monies and the following categories of awards;
Best Batsman was Elijah Saturday, South-south (Akwa Ibom)- 78 runs in three matches.
Best Behaved Player Effiong Godswill, South-south (Akwa Ibom)
Best Bowler Theophilus Jeremiah, North-west (Kaduna)- 12 wickets in four matches.
Best Fielder Joshua Sunday, North-west (Kaduna)- 8 dismissals in four matches.
Most Valuable Player, MVP Kenneth Boniface, North-west (Kaduna)- scored 33run, got 12 wickets