Zahira set to make strong comeback

The recent years have been quite productive for the Zahira College Colombo cricket team. They have seasoned cricketers and an equally strong set of reserves to take over the mantel in years to come.
As Zahira completes their third year in the Division I segment they are having minor problems which need quick remedies.

(Standing from left) Amitha Kaushalya, Mohamed Arshad, Mohamed Azam, Hamdan Hussein, Pradeep Ananda, Basith Marikkar, Lakshan Edirisinghe, Pasindu Kalhara, Ahamed Nabeel, Irshad Umar, Salman Fazil, Irham Mahir. (Seated from left) Sampath Epasinghe (Asst Coach), Irshad Mohamed, Mahesh Weerasinghe (Coach), Dilshad Hilmy (Captain), Palitha Kulatunga (P-O-G), Waseem Sinnen (Vice Captain), Imraz Rafi.

One of their main concerns this year is their inexperienced middle-order. However the five seniors in the squad can make a huge difference. Among the top in the batting list is last year’s skipper Imraz Rafi who is playing in his fourth and final year. In addition Captain Dilshad Hilmy, his deputy Waseem Sinnen, Basith Marikkar, Lakshan Edirisinghe and Pradeep Ananda are the other main contributors and a lot is expected from them.

Starting from Rafi, Hilmy, Sinnen, Marikkar and Edirisinghe the rest of the batsmen in the side seem to lack stability in the middle order. But they are well armoured with a fully-fledged bowling attack which makes them one of the top sides in schools cricket. Apart from three regular seamers in Pasindu Kalhara, Salman Fazil and Mohamed Arshad, Zahira has eight spinners. Four of them are leggies while the rest are off-spinners. Leg-spinner Pradeep Ananda was their greatest strength last season and this year too he is in the main line of bowling. The other leg-spinners in the side are brothers Mohamed Irshad and Irshad Umar. Rafi, Sinnen, Edirisinghe and Amitha Kaushalya are the off-spinners.

Last year Zahira odid extremely well with five wins in 16 matches defeating top teams in Division I school cricket. This year they are set to play 18 games and the strong bowling attack has already helped them with three wins in four matches. Despite minor setbacks in batting, Zahira is having a smooth run thanks to their competency in bowling and fielding. Mahesh Weerasinghe continues to coach Zahira for the third consecutive year. He is assisted by Sampath Epasinghe.

“We know that it is not the same side as in the past. We have a very good set of players with the ability of turning the game around. We have already won three and the target this year would be to record eight or more wins. We have experienced seniors and at the same time there youngsters from the Under-15 and 17 squads from whom we expect small but telling contributions. At the moment things are shaping up well. We hope to improve as the season progresses and obtain good results,” said skipper Hilmy.

- NA
(Pix by Amila

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