CENTRAL Zone is on the verge of a historic achievement – capturing all four TT Cricket Board (TTCB) Inter-Zone Cricket titles in one season, when its Under-19 team come up against South East today (SUNDAY) in a much-anticipated final from 9.30 am at the National Cricket Centre in Balmain, Couva.
Victory in the 50-over competition will ensure that Central adds the prestigious Under-19 crown to the other three (Under-13, Under-15, and Under-17) already in the bag, a feat only previously accomplished by East Zone in 2014.
It will also be an opportunity to exact sweet revenge against South East, eyeing their first title of 2019, and who inflicted the only defeat Central has suffered, which came in a low-scoring second-round encounter on a turning wicket at Monroe Road in Cunupia.
Coach of the Central Zone team Rydell Ramsaran is confident that his team will rise to the occasion and produce a fairy-tale ending to the season which he said will be a fitting reward for their hard work and self-belief.
Undeniably two players have stood out in the team's success – Sameer Ali, a leg-spinner who is the leading wicket-taker in the competition with 15 scalps in three matches, and opening batsman Denzil Antoine, who has a century to his name in this year's event, and posted 48 in last week's semi-final against North Zone.
Denzil is the son of former TT cricketer Eugene Antoine and looks set to follow in his father's footsteps.
Ramsaran, who is no stranger to success himself, steering Presentation College San Fernando to six Secondary Schools cricket crowns at the zonal and national level this season, also paid tribute to captain Darius Gopaul and a trio of Under-17 players who have been called up to national trials.
He said Rajeev Ramnath, Aaron Bankey, and Shiva Sankar have provided the backbone of the team's solidity. Also making a good contribution is Sanjay Jawahir, a member of the sextuplet-titled Presentation San Fernando squad which gained promotion this year to the South Zone Premiership Division after 26 years.
Off-spinner Danny Ramjitsingh has also been having a good season, conceding just 80 runs in his 40 overs to date in the tournament.
Having bowed out in the preliminary stage last year, Ramsaran credits the effort to strengthen the mental conditioning of the players which he said was the key to their progress to the final.