JUSTIN JAGESSAR earned “Man-of-the-Match” honours as he led Central Zone to victory on Thursday against South East in the final of the TT Cricket Board’s Inter Zone Under-15 tournament at the National Cricket Centre in Balmain, Couva.
The Central Zone captain lashed a brilliant undefeated 97 as his team racked up 204 runs for the loss of eight wickets in the allotted 50 overs and then saw his team dismiss their opponents for just 149 in 48.3 overs to win by a margin of 55 runs with nine balls to spare.
It was the second straight year Central has captured the Under-15 crown. Leading youth prospect Jagessar also took the prize for the top score in the final. Also contributing to the winning total were Rajesh Maharaj and Fareez Ali who made 20 runs each.
For South East, who had played unbeaten in the competition before the final, Christon Ramkissoon took two wickets for 33 runs in his ten overs, and overall performed well with the ball as they did all season with the five other bowlers used claimed a wicket each.
At one stage, Central were under the gun at 26 for three in the 12th over, but a composed knock by Jagessar, who hit seven boundaries and a maximum, steadied the ship pulled the defending champions out of trouble.
He shared important partnerships of 52 runs with Maharaj for the fourth wicket; 49 for the sixth wicket with Ali; and 31 for the eighth wicket with Brandon Deonarine to rescue the Central campaign from a precarious position after winning the toss and taking first knock in brilliant sunshine.
In their run chase, South East failed to capitalize on the useful work accomplished by their bowers as only opening batsman Romario King starred with the bat with an attractive innings of 45 runs with three boundaries.
He received good support from Nickyle Jalim who chipped in with 33 while Nathaniel Pulchan (18) and Rahul Ali (14) offered limited resistance as the Central Zone bowlers made telling inroads in the South East Zone batting.
After losing their first wicket with the score on 17, King and Jalim put on 68 for the second wicket but from then on it was a steady procession back to the pavilion as Central seized the initiative and tightened their grip on the match.
Emilio Villafana captured two wickets for 24 runs; Tommy Walsh grabbed two for 26; and Deonarine snapped up two for 34, while Luke Ali and Fareez Ali got one apiece in a devastating Central Zone bowling exhibition.
Sharing the individual honours in the final were South East’s Romario King who was adjudged best fieldsman for his two superb catches at the top of the Central Zone innings, and Emilio Villafana for the champions, voted best bowler for his excellent return of two wickets for 24 runs in ten overs with one maiden.
The nation’s youth cricketers now turn their attention to the Under-17 Inter Zone competition which gets underway on Wednesday, March 13.