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New edition of Challengers Cup up and running

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The High Ninjas squad that won its opening Challengers Cup outing at the ICC Academy at Dubai Sports City

Crystal Gallery is known for producing trophies and now its indoor cricketers have shown they want to win one of their own by delivering the standout display of the early matches in the latest edition of the Challengers Cup at the state-of-the-art facilities of the ICC Academy at Dubai Sports City.

The Crystal Gallery side, drawn in Pool A of the Bronze section of the tournament, scored an impressive 91 runs against Edgen Murray before restricting its opponents to a total of minus 16 in reply for a 107-run success.

And as a statement of intent, it has to be said it was a mighty impressive one. 27 sides compete in the tournament that sees the line-ups divided into three different sections – Gold, Silver and Bronze.

The Gold section has three sides – SFS, the Knight Riders and Oxford Marine – and each will play the others twice with the top two going through to the Grand Final.

There are 12 teams in each of the Silver and Bronze sections, and eight from each will go through to the quarter-finals to be followed by semi-finals and finals.

With the eight-a-side matches involving just eight overs per team, players bat in pairs for two overs each and five runs are deducted from a team total every time a wicket falls.

Crystal Gallery’s display was impressive in every respect, losing just two wickets during the course of its innings before taking 15 Edgen Murray scalps in reply. Zafar was named as player of the match after the Crystal Gallery bowler secured the truly remarkable figures of six wickets for minus 24 runs.

It was the second loss in a row for Edgen Murray, although its first set-back was nowhere near as severe, losing by 27 runs to the High Ninjas.

Edgen Murray batted first and totalled 34 before the High Ninjas replied with 61. The losing side did, at least, have the consolation of having the player of the match within its ranks as Sooraj claimed that honour for taking four wickets for minus 13 runs.

Elsewhere, in Pool B, IM Galadari secured a convincing win over ENOC-3, scoring 75 to its opponents’ 37. Jawaid of IM Galadari earned player of the match honours after top-scoring in the match with 16 and also taking a wicket.

The other Bronze Pool B match was a thriller with the Sandpipers just edging a victory over Bits & Pieces by six runs, with the Sandpipers making 76 before Bits & Pieces replied with 70.

In the end, Bits & Pieces lost because it lost four wickets to the Sandpipers’ two and in such a tight contest Rohit of the winning line-up was adjudged player of the match for his 13 runs and a wicket too.

The two remaining matches in the opening action took place among Silver section sides and both were relatively close contests. In Pool A, ENOC-1 overcame the Smashing Warriors by nine runs, scoring 64 in response to the Smashing Warriors’ 55.

ENOC-1 had it all to do as it approached the final two overs of the match, still requiring 19 at that stage, a score it had not mustered in any of its previous two-over periods.

But Numan (16) and Irfan (11) rose to the challenge and in the end secured the win with something to spare. Smashing Warriors’ Paul was player of the match for his innings of 15.

In Pool B the Pakistani Tigers beat Jacky’s by 11 runs, 60 to 49. Jacky’s batted first only to see its total overhauled with Harris of the Tigers named player of the match for his innings of 11, as well as two wickets for minus five runs.

The format of matches means every ball counts in frantic, fast-paced action that is hugely popular with players and spectators at the ICC Academy.

All the action takes place in the world-class surroundings of the indoor facility at the sport’s global hub.

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