Dubai: Cricketlovers Kottayam Crusaders, a team making their debut in the ongoing Kerala Premier League, have caught the eye with their spirited performance. Given that most teams playing in the tournament count experienced players among their ranks, some of them international stars, the Kottayam team mostly comprises players who are around the age of 17, besides their player-coaches.

Though the team may look weak on paper, the enthusiasm with which they took the field saw them getting the better of the experienced Thumbay Kasargod Leopards by six wickets. Kottayam’s victory is sure to boost their confidence to take on the best in the coming matches.

Speaking to Gulf News, Gopal Jasapara, who is the head coach of the Cricketlovers cricket academy, said: “We have fielded this team for young players to gain exposure and this victory is a huge boost. My coaching colleagues Azhar Gul, Ayub Iqbal and Zahoor Farooqi and myself play alongside the youngsters and encourage them to give their best.”

The experiment is certainly yielding results with 17 year old Divyendu Shekar emerging as the hero in Kottayam’s win over Kasargod. The right-arm off spinner and left handed batsman picked three wickets to restrict Kasargod to 124 runs and scored an unbeaten 15 to take his team to victory with seven balls to spare. Coach Farooqi provided good support with his fast bowling to bag three wickets for 24.

Kottayam reached the target thanks to a 17-ball 22 from coach Iqbal and an unbeaten 31 from coach Gul before Shekar steered the team to victory.

Brief scores :

Cricketlovers Kottayam Crusaders bt Thumbay Kasargod Leopards by 6 wkts. Kasargod Leopards 124 in 20 overs (Dhanushdev 26, Salim Malek 40, Zahoor Farooqui 3 for 24, Divyendu Shekar 3 for 19, Sujit Raveedran 2 for 15) Kottayam Crusaders 125 for 4 in 18.5 overs (Ayub Iqbal 22, Sujit Raveedran 30, Azhar Gul 31n.o, Gihan Chathuranga 2 for 23) Man of the match: Divyendu Shekar.