The Maru-a-Pula U15 cricket team came 7th in the ISSA U15 Cricket tournament, which took place from the 9th-11th of March in Mafikeng, South Africa.
The team departed the Maru-a-Pula campus in the late hours of the morning, reaching the Ramatlabama border at 1300h, and finally arriving in Mafikeng half an hour later. First off, the team was scheduled to play Mafikeng High at the Mafikeng High stadium. Maru-a-Pula won the toss and elected to bowl first. It was Eashwar Ramesh and Zaeem Sadiq who were given the chance to open the bowling. Unfortunately for Maru-a-Pula, in only 20 overs, Mafikeng High had gained a mammoth 147 runs. This proved to be too big a task for the Maru-a-Pula batsmen to beat, as they failed to reach the score in time. “It was a disappointing game, where, truly, we put on a horrific display of bowling,” said Hamzah Tajbai, a Maru-a-Pula middle order batsman.
The next day saw Maru-a-Pula facing 3 teams: St. Conrad’s College, Sol PLaatjie and Westwood International School. St Conrad’s College batted first in the morning game, scoring a total of 147 runs. This was the lowest they had ever scored in 3 games, so MaP went into bat with high hopes of winning the game. Tharanitharan Panchalingam showed resistance in the MaP batting order, scoring just under 30 runs; but unfortunately, the MaP team was hit with brilliant attacks of accurate seamers and tricky spinners from the opposing team. At the end of the game, Maru-a-Pula lost by 67 runs. St. Conrad’s went on to win the trophy.
Next, Maru-a-Pula played Sol Plaatjie, who put Maru-a-Pula into bat after winning the toss. Map scored 123 runs in 15 overs and were happy with the scorecard. “We can easily defend this score. I mean it is pretty impressive,” said Zaeem Sadiq confidently. He was proven right because, about an hour later, Maru-a-Pula won by 40 runs.
Westwood International School was the team’s next target, and it was a must-win game. If Maru-a-Pula won this game they would progress to the semi-finals. Due to bad light, the game had to be cut short to only 15 overs. Westwood won the toss and elected to field first. At the end of the 15th over, MaP had scored 109 runs – meaning that Westwood needed 110 runs in order to win. Maru-a-Pula set up an “aggressive bowling attack” against Westwood, in the words of the vice captain, Eashwar Ramesh. They opened with spinners, knowing that light was fading away. Unfortunately for Maru-a-Pula, in the 9th over, it became too dark for the Westwood batsmen to see the ball, so the umpires declared the match as a draw. This was bad news for MaP, because it meant that they would have to play the 7th and 8th playoffs the next day against Legae. “We were on our way to winning the game so we are pretty disappointed,” argued Reginald Wilson, the Maru-a-Pula cricket coach.
Maru-a-Pula won the Legae game pretty comfortably, with a margin of 40 runs between them and Legae. The highlight of the match was probably the effort made by Zaeem Sadiq, who scored an impressive 64 runs. “It was a great ending to a disappointing tournament, but at least we had fun,” proclaimed Kaashief Essack, the opening batsman for Maru-a-Pula.