Gwalior: Mansoor Ahmad and Ravindra Singh of Aligarh Muslim University, the Toyota University Cricket Championship's quickest bowlers, will have to hit their straps if the Northern Stallions have to knockout Jiwaji University, Gwalior on Tuesday and grab a semifinal berth from group A of the championship. After a rather close five-wicket win on Sunday against Jaunpur, stand-in Aligarh captain Meraj Ahmed said all his bowlers "have to do better".
"Our biggest strength is our pace attack. Mansoor and Ravindra are the ones we look up to every match and on the big days, they have to give us early wickets," said Meraj. Both the quicks were in their elements on Sunday, but it was Bowler of the Match Ravindra, whose back-to-back wickets checked the Jaunpur momentum in the death overs.
"We thought we would restrict Jaunpur to about 120 runs, but they managed to score 136. That means our bowling wasn't tight enough. We have to bowl better," said Meraj.
The Aligarh captain praised Taha Ali (18 not out off 11 balls) and Rehan Aziz (12 not out) for guiding their team to victory. "Since the target was not very high, we decided to bat normally, but we lost a few crucial wickets towards the end. Taha and Rehan batted very well. We didn't expect this from them," Meraj said.
The tournament is over for the Jaunpur boys. Sunday was their third defeat. Skipper Bijendra Singh said his team was 30 runs too short but even 136 could have been defended "had the bowling and fielding was better."
Bijendra was all praise for Praveen Dubey, who became the centurion of the championship with an unbeaten 104 on Sunday. Dubey won the Man of the Match award for his effort but looked disappointed. "It's no point when your team is out of the tournament," Dubey said.