Boost for ACA morale

Guwahati, Nov. 12: The Assam Cricket Association held pre-Diwali celebrations at Nehru Stadium here this afternoon with a hattrick of victories in national level cricket in a single day.

After the Assam A (under-25) boys clinched a one-run victory against Andhra Pradesh A in a C.K. Nayudu Trophy plate group B league match at Silchar, the second good news came from Jamshedpur where Assam prevailed over hosts Jharkhand by 53 runs in a Ranji Trophy group C league match.

Added to these was the Assam women's five-wicket win against the Bengal counterparts at Nehru Stadium here to emerge the unbeaten East Zone champions, which triggered celebrations at the stadium.

The triple victories brought some respite for the ACA, which has been in the news for all the wrong reasons in the past week.

"We were least worried about the baseless news in a section of the media. We were anxious about the outcome of the ongoing matches in Jamshedpur and Silchar, which turned out to be very encouraging. The boys have clinched victories from losing matches. Above all, the women put the icing on the cake becoming the unbeaten zonal champions," ACA secretary Bikash Baruah said.

"Our players have given us the opportunity to celebrate Diwali two days ahead of the actual festival. This is a big morale booster," Baruah added, amid fireworks by the celebrating women's team at Nehru Stadium.

Assam's seasoned offie Arlen Konwar, who accounted for a match haul of 10 wickets in Jamshedpur, was recommended for the Man of the Match award, team manager Abdul Khaleque said, quoting BCCI match officials.

The awards are announced by the BCCI later.

Besides throwing a dinner party tonight, the ACA also announced a cash reward of Rs 10,000 to every member of the women's squad for being the unbeaten champions.

The squad comprised six players who were part of the under-19 girls' team that emerged the national champions last year.

In her post-match interaction, women's team skipper and Indian international Reema Malhotra described the victory as a collective effort and hoped the team would perform better in the knockouts to lift the senior women's title.

"We need to work a bit on our fielding and if we can field better, I am sure we will be the champions," she said, adding that youngsters like Monikha Das, Sapna Choudhury and Genevie Pando in particular have the potential to be outstanding cricketers for the nation.

Khaleque said national selector Syed Saba Karim, who watched the match for the entire four days, was all praise for some brilliant fielding by Nagaland recruit Hokaito Zhimomi, who had also topscored for Assam with a 48-run knock in the first innings, in particular. Stumper Rajdeep Das, Tarjinder Singh and skipper Dheeraj Jadhav also drew the applause of the spectators as well as opponents with their fielding, he said. "Arlen Konwar and Syed Mohammad also drew the attention of Saba Karim with their bowling," he added.

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