BOWLER Noor Afif Ahmad was once again the toast of Pahang as the East Coast side clinched their first ever Under-18 Malaysian Schools Cricket title with a 45-run win over Penang in a rain-disrupted final at the Johor Cricket Academy in Mutiara Rini yesterday.
Noor Afif, who destroyed last year's joint champions Kelantan with a haul of five wickets for six runs in the semi-finals on Friday, was in his element again yesterday as he ripped through the Penang batsmen, taking four wickets for six runs.
He also displayed superb fielding with five catches as Penang were dismissed for 52 runs in 13.3 overs in reply to Pahang's total of 97 for eight wickets.
The final was reduced to a 15-overs match due to poor ground conditions following heavy overnight rain which also affected the Under-12 final between Johor and Negri Sembilan at the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) in Skudai. Both teams were declared joint champions.
Ahmad Fauzan Abdul Malek top-scored for Pahang with 32 runs, followed by Shahirul Ikhmal Rosli (15) and Noor Azizul Abdul Manan (12). Penang's best bowlers were K. Thevanraj with four wickets for 17 runs and R. Harvindran (3-27).
Opening bat Varun Nadesh with 16 runs and K. Jeeventra Kuhilan (14) were the only batsmen to reach double figures for Penang.
Pahang coach Abdul Hafiz Ishak said the team reaped the rewards for all the hard work put in for the championships.
"It has been simply fantastic for us in Johor Baru. Once we beat Kelantan we were confident of winning our first ever Under-18 title. We were not given a chance against Kelantan who were represented by players from the cricket academies at Kajang High School and Penang Free School when we played them in the semis."
RESULTS -- Under-18 final: Pahang beat Penang by 45 runs. Kelantan and Kuala Lumpur joint third; Plate final: Selangor beat N.Sembilan by six wickets; Loser's pool final: Johor beat Perak by six wickets
Under-12 final: Not played. Johor and N.Sembilan joint champions. Selangor and Pahang joint third. Plate final: Kelantan beat Penang by eight wickets. Loser's pool final: Malacca beat Sarawak by 9 runs.
ROLL OF HONOUR
Under-18 -- Best Bowler: K. Thevan Raj (Penang) 16 wickets, 25 overs; Best Batsman: Che Wan Razlan Che Wan Zalati (K'tan) 114 runs, 94 balls, average 28.5; Best Wicketkeeper: Izzat Mustafa Al Bakri (Kelantan); Best All Rounder: Varun Nadesh (Penang)
Under-12 -- Best Bowler: Abdul Halim Abu Bakar (Johor) 16 wickets, 53 runs, 20.1 overs; Best Batsman: Muhammad Norebby Ilham Asoha (Johor) 267 runs, 162 balls, average 53.2.
Best Wicketkeeper: Mohd Imran Mohd Harris (Negri Sembilan); Best All Rounder: Ahmad Zubaidi Zulkifli (Selangor).