Talent and determination on show as Sikhs and Samaj face off

Sikh Union Sports Club will be a battleground for future stars and upcoming talent as the Super League Division of the Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association (NPCA) League showcases the youthful Sikh Union Sports Club ‘A’ vs Shree Cutchi Leva Patel Samaj (SCLPS) ‘A’ duel.

The two teams lie back to back – Sikh Union are winless and lie 8th with no point in the ten – team competition, having suffered four consecutive defeats at the hands of Ngara Sports Club ‘A’, Kanbis Sports Club ‘A’, Swamibapa Sports Club ‘A’ and Ruaraka Sports Club ‘A’. The side has been dogged by bad luck, though, never being able to fully utilize their first XI. SCLPS ‘A’ are 7th with four points from one win.

First, it was Paarth Dixit and Himanshu Dixit falling ill well into the match day after being deemed fit to play against Swamibapa. Returning to the side last week against Ruaraka, Himanshu was struck on the head by the first ball of the match, retiring hurt immediately and suffered a concussion which required him to spend a couple of days in hospital.  He will be out for the count as he recuperates, leaving Sikh Union two batsmen short as wicket keeper batsman Gurmanjot Singh, who is yet to make an appearance this season is also unavailable.

Despite all their misfortunes, the skipper says that they are up to the task, “Cutchi Leva are a decent side and our youngsters are totally up to the task since they are aware that Cutchi Leva also has a number of youngsters. They may have one up in the bowling department since Lameck joined them, which is a good addition, but we don’t think too much of it. The boys are ready and happy to see how our team will shape up in the coming matches.”

Moreover, the Forest Road – based side still have skipper Sukhdeep Singh, Harpreet Gill, the experienced Muhammad Kalyan and budding Kenya U-19 bat Raj Manji to complete the top order for the hosts.

The other Kenya U – 19 hopeful Gurleen Singh looks set with opening the bowling, backed up by Kalyan, Charanpreet Aidhy and the skipper, in the absence of Himanshu Dixit.

SCLPS ‘A’s Darsh Panchani bats in an earlier NPCA fixture against Stray Lions CC ‘A’

Samaj, on the other hand begun with a run-away win at Sir Ali Muslim Club ‘A’ which they have since failed to capitalize on. Worse still, they have been the whipping boys conceding the highest number of runs in the League so far: 7/350 against Kanbis Sports Club ‘A’ and 8/340 against Ruaraka Sports Club ‘A’, denting their run rate further.

Coach Lameck Ngoche says that the youngsters in his squad have what it takes. “For us, it is not about losing but how we lose. My players have been doing well and now that I am with them full time, it is time to take it a notch further. I have a lot of young players who are growing into the game. Give me a couple of years and you will see,” .Ngoche told kenya-cricket.com.

The team has dependable all – round youngsters in Ankit Bhanderi – right arm leg break, Sumit Halai – right arm medium fast and Darsh Panchani – right arm off break who are making inroads in the team with both bat and ball. Halai (54) recorded a half century in their opening match against Sir Ali Muslim Club.

However, the batting has not amounted for much after the 159 – run chase to beat Sir Ali Muslim Club. From five matches, Rahul Nathani leads with 102 runs, Hiten Vekaria – 98, while Sumit Halai, Ankit Bhanderi and skipper Niraj Patel are tied on 68 runs from 4 innings. Opening bowler Rajesh Bhudia blames this on lack of partnerships. “We look forward to the game and we know that Sikh Union’s bowling is at par from their stats. However, we have to find a way to improve on our batting as we are not getting partnerships at the top and in the middle. (3-6.)”

Samaj will be banking on Hiten Vekaria and Harshin Varsani to continue churning the wickets alongside ex – Kenya international Ngoche.

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