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Team Abu Dhabi clinched their second ECB U19 Inter-Emirates title after defeating Ajman in a thrilling final. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Team Abu Dhabi clinched their first ECB U19 Inter-Emirates title since 2015 on Sunday, beating their Ajman competitors by 15 runs in a thrilling final.

Batting first, Abu Dhabi 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.

Late wickets

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 their highest run-scorer (335 runs) and second-highest wickettaker (nine).

D’Souza, a Zayed Cricket Academy protege who has represented Abu Dhabi 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 while Yash Punja also chipped in with his 2-51.

It brought a fine end to the tournament for Team Abu Dhabi, who held a perfect record after winning all three of their group games prior to claiming victory in the final.

Emerging talents

This was Abu Dhabi’s second victory in the competition. They were the inaugural ECB U19 Inter-Emirates champions 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

Big impact

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.”

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.”