ACS (I) dethrone National Schools’ A Division champs RI
Chasing a modest total, RI flop and skipper blames complacency
In a heart-stopping finish, Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) pipped arch rivals Raffles Institution by eight runs to win the National Schools' 'A' Division cricket final yesterday at Ceylon Sports Club.
Having elected to bat first, ACS (I) finished on 95 for 8 in 20 overs, seemingly handing the initiative to RI.
Going into bat, RI started strong and were in the driver's seat, but the final was then turned on its head and the defending champions collapsed, finishing on 87 all out in 19 overs.
Speaking after the loss, a dejected RI skipper, Mohammad Ameen Bhadelia, said: "Once we got into a good position, we sort of let it go with our complacency.
"We definitely should've stayed there and the batsmen shouldn't have gone out so easily.
"It was a very close fight, but in the end we just didn't apply ourselves and that's why we failed."
Over the years, the two schools have been jostling for top spot in the division and ACS (I) had announced their intentions when they defeated RI by 32 runs in an earlier preliminary round encounter.
After a weak batting effort, their cricketers made up for it with exceptional fielding and bowling yesterday to wrest the crown from their biggest rivals.
Captain Anish Srinivasan played a key role in his team's victory after an astonishing catch just before the boundary line that sent Ameen back to the pavilion just as he was settling in.
"I managed to get the captain (Ameen) out, and that was a big turning point in the game," said the 18-year-old skipper.
"Going in 95 runs on the board wasn't a fantastic score but I felt that the effort, motivation, heart and drive carried us all the way.
"It was brilliant work by everyone in the team."
Despite the loss, his counterpart Ameen was satisfied with how far his team had progressed.
"This is the last time we will play together as a team and it was worth it," he said.
"From having issues with each other when we first started to really being there for each other now, it really shows how much we've grown.
"I couldn't be happier with what the team have achieved, the friendship that we forged with one another means more than just a gold medal to me."
Amid ecstatic celebrations in the camp, head coach of ACS (I), Sarika Siva Prasad, said: "I'm really happy for the boys as with so much going on with schoolwork, they still managed to train hard as a team to get to where they are today.
"Compared to last year, we have a much better team this year and we believed that we had a chance to do well.
"Beating RI in the group stage gave the boys the confidence that they could do well in the final."
Prasad then hailed Anish's performance.
"He always believed in the team from the beginning and pushed them really hard. He led the team really well today.
"RI captain Ameen is a very good player with the ability to change a game all on his own.
"Having taken such a catch for the team made the difference and it was key to today's win."
In the battle for third yesterday, VJC emerged victorious, finishing on 99 all out in 19 overs, while St Joseph's Institution (International) collapsed to 47 all out in 17 overs.