Local v international school game boosts cricket

The match for the Stephen N. Houghton Shield - played for the first time in the history of schools cricket in Singapore between a combined local schools team and an international schools XI - ended in a draw at the Padang on Saturday.

Set a target of 166 to win in 35 overs, the international XI, made up of players from Global Indian International School, NPS International, United World College of South-east Asia and Singapore American School, had a bright start as Aman Desai (23) and Gaurav Rajagopal (29) put on 55 runs for the opening wicket in 10.2 overs.

They then suffered a collapse to fall to 117-6 in 27.3 overs, with local schools' spinners Shardul Dorwat (2-19) and Shezad Hassan (2-30) doing most of the damage with their tight control and subtle variety.

But Anirudh Chalapathy , with a fighting 34 runs off 38 balls and Bikram Bir Biswasray (25 not out off 21 balls), took them close to victory, before a tragic run out off a wide ball ended their chase at 165 all out in 34.5 overs.

Earlier, the local schools team, consisting of players from Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), Raffles Institution and St Joseph's Institution, made 165-6 in 35 overs after winning the toss.

Their innings was built on a 75-run partnership for the second wicket between Shardul (40) and Somil Batavia (43) and 48 for the third wicket between Somil and Abdul Rehman (17). Annirudh Ganesh also made 18 off 17 balls.

For the international schools, the main wicket-takers were Anirudh (2-27) and Darsh Paris (2-28).

"It was a close game, very tense at the end," said Aahan Achar, the captain of the local schools team. "We missed some catches, otherwise we were on course for victory."

The international schools' captain found the whole concept "good". "We don't get to play the local school teams often," said Rishab Tirupathi. "Today we got to pit our talents against them and also play on a turf wicket. We went close but could not pull off a victory."

The Non-Benders Cricket Club, whose members are mainly former national players above the age of 40, organised this match in a bid to improve the standard of schools cricket in Singapore. The Singapore Cricket Club provided the ground, with the shield named after the 81- year-old former national captain.

"There are insufficient competitions for schools here," said Zoher Motiwalla, 61, the Non-Benders' convenor. "We organised this match to help raise the profile of schools cricket and give the players some bragging rights. It was a fantastic game, cannot get better than a tie. We hope to organise more such matches for different age groups in the future."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 22, 2017, with the headline 'Local v international school game boosts cricket'. Print Edition | Subscribe