SUSSEX, ENGLAND // The youngsters from the MCC-Zayed Cricket Academy held their nerves to overcome their first hurdle in the Arabian Cricket Festival Under 13 tournament at the Sussex Academy grounds in Blackstone on Monday. Sriram Balaguru and Bilal Passela shared a 93-run stand for the third wicket to set the platform for a three-wicket win over Guernsey. They came together after the openers, Shaun Shibu (zero) and Mohammed Riyan (one) had departed early, leaving them to rebuild their innings, which they did and eventually win the game with nearly four overs to spare.
Balaguru played the key role with a top score of 46, facing 75 balls and with a solitary boundary. He was also the pick of the bowlers with figures of 8-1-14-1, with his wily off-spinners. Guernsey, electing to bat first, made 143 for six in their allotted 40 overs. Passela, who came in at the fall of the first wicket in the very first delivery, played an anchor role, stroking 36 off 87 deliveries with a couple of fours.
His run out created panic again as two more wickets fell cheaply, of Sarat Nanda (zero) and Anson Quadros (seven), and the pressure was on again at 120 for five in the 33rd over. But Balaguru and Muhammed Nasif, who struck three fours for an eight-ball 15, relieved the pressure and set them on course. Balaguru fell at 140, bowled by Ryan Harris, and Nasif top edged the same bowler when the scores were tied.