School sports: RI return to the top of schools cricketing perch

When Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) beat Raffles Institution (RI) by 18 runs in the national schools A Division cricket final last year, it only spurred RI to come back stronger this year to wrest the title back this year.

On May 21, RI did just that when it thrashed ACS (I) by nine wickets at the Ceylon Sports Club, sending Raffles back to their winning ways as it dominated the championship with consecutive titles from 2011 to 2013.

For the players and alumni of RI, there was sweet satisfaction in retaking the title. Head coach Rex Martens, a RI alumnus himself, said: "After six years, this was a good way for the boys to end their sporting career at Raffles."

In this year's final, RI restricted ACS (I) to 88 all out in 20 overs and while its batsmen hammered sixes and fours to reach 89-1 in just 6.2 overs.

"The basics are so important. We always tell our boys to stick to the basics and target the opposition's key players. Put pressure on them, bowl and field well and don't give them any chance to score," Martens explained of his winning strategy.

RI's bowling was spearheaded by Man of the Match Kaushik Ilango, who claimed four wickets. He was well supported by Mohamed Ameen, who took two wickets.

The ACS (I) team were unable to get a partnership going and lost wickets at regular intervals.

RI also excelled in fielding, with their fielders diving to stop a few boundaries.

Kaushik (24 runs) and Ameen (52 not out) starred with the bat as well. Their 88-run opening partnership helped RI win the match easily.

Their partnership was forged over six years, since they began playing together at secondary 1.

"Me and Ameen have a telepathic communication," Kaushik said. "We have a great understanding of each other and we complement each other very well. Being close friends also helps."

The rivalry between RI and ACS (I) has been intense over the years, with the two schools reaching the A Division finals six times in the past five years. ACS (I) have won the trophy twice, while RI claimed it four times.