Combined Northern Districts (CND) Mokwepa this past week were crowned the first Botswana Premier League (BPL) U17 champions after their final against Central Gaborone (CG) Tshukudu at the BCA Oval.
After finishing top of the pile in the league, CND still had to play second placed Central Gaborone Tshukudu in a grand finale so as to be crowned champions as opposed to the traditional league system where the top placed team wins the league at the end of a season.
Winning the toss, CG Tshukudu skipper, Thato Mazula, elected to field first, probably influenced by the fact that in the last two encounters between the sides, CG Tshukudu had managed to bowl CND Mokwepa out twice. Things started at a snail’s pace for CND Mokwepa as openers Hemal Pragji and Amir Saiyed came up against some very tight bowling from Tshukudu, opening bowlers, Thatayaone Michael and Thabo Patlakwe.
The breakthrough came in the 8th over when Pragji was out caught behind off the bowling of Patlakwe. At 19-1 and CND skipper Shweth Bhargava at the crease, a good partnership formed between Saiyed and Bhargava to take the score to 74 before Bhargava fell to a sharp catch off the bowling of Nshomane.
Amir Saiyed soldiered on with Aarnav Ram for a 76 run partnership and even after the dismissal of Ram for 22, CND managed to bat out their 40 overs and put on a very respectable 200 for the loss of only three wickets, Amir Saiyed batting through the innings for a well structured 84 not out.
CG Tshukudu’s chase of 200 started off in the worst possible way when Tumelo Molema was run out in the first over with the score at one for one and CND Mokwepa were over the moon.
In came Huzeifa Babar at number three and the onslaught started as CND Mokwepa’s opening bowlers were dispatched around the park by Mosweu and Babar and at 9 overs, Tshukudu had mustered up 64 runs on the board. Leg spinner Sagar Gandhi then dealt Tshukudu a heavy blow when Babar was out caught at slips off his bowling for a quickfired 35. This took the sting out of Tshukudu’s aggressive batting approach and, as Mosweu looked good batting patiently in chase of the target, the number four bat, Nagpal, started feeling the heat and got out stumped charging off spinner Saiyed. 76-4 and all of a sudden, 200 runs was looking a hard chase for Tshukudu.
Skipper Thato Mazula calmed things down as out in the middle with Mosweu, a partnership of 53 runs materialized until Gandhi struck again, removing Mosweu as he bowled him with a faster delivery.
At 129-4, the incoming batters could not up the pace and one by one, they started falling and were finally all out for 175 in the 39th over, 25 runs short of the target. Wild celebrations ensued as the northerners had won the first edition of the BPL U17s, Saiyed claiming his third man of the match in the league for his 84 not out.
The awards ceremony for the BPL U17s 2011 followed soon after the awards were presented.
BPL U17s 2011 Award Winners
Best Batter Award: Inzimam Master (CSD Kwena)
Best Bowler Award: Mmoloki Mooketsi (South Gaborone Tau)
Best Fielder Award: Thatayaone Tshose (South Gaborone Tau)
Best Wicket Keeper Award: Rashaad Mosweu (Central Gaborone Tshukudu)
Player of the League: Amir Saiyed (CND Mokwepa)
Spirit of Cricket Award: Mogobane Nkwe
BPL U17s Runners Up 2011: Central Gaborone Tshukudu
BPL U17s Winners 2011: Combined Northern Districts Mokwepa