DAR Raptors cricketers' quest for maiden title in the Tanzania Cricket Association (TCA) Secondary Schools League is expected to reign supreme when the squad clashes with Aga Khan Mzizima in the final at the Leaders Club venue in Dar es Salaam today.
TCA organizes the league involving Dar es Salaam-based secondary schools and junior outfits in a bid to promote the sport among domestic youth and identify players for national teams of different age categories.
Raptors' coach, Osman Bairu, has expressed optimism ahead of today's final, saying he has plenty of faith in his youngsters and expects to see the latter go all the way and lift the trophy. "I'm looking forward to an impressive performance from my squad in the final against Aga Khan.
If my boys will be disciplined in all aspects, namely batting, bowling and fielding, they will surely cruise to victory," he told the 'Daily News on Saturday'. "I'm looking up to a new challenge of winning the Secondary Schools League. I have won the Primary Schools League with Kawe B Primary School's outfit and now I want to win the Secondary Schools League," added Bairu.
Raptors had cruised to the final with an emphatic eight-wicket victory over Shaaban Robert Secondary School's side in the semi-final played at the same venue earlier this week. Shaaban Robert, who were the pre-tournament favourites thanks to their solid displays in previous events, were highly expected to make the most of the game against Raptors but the former were unexpectedly reduced to novices by the determined Raptors' youngsters.
Raptors opted to start batting in the Twenty20-formatted match and amassed 178 runs for the loss of two wickets in the allotted 20 overs to prove they were keen on maintaining their impressive run and close in on silverware. Solid batting by Raptors' skipper, Ejaz Abdul-Aziz, who nailed 78 runs, inspired the rest of the team's batsmen to give their all and that helped the squad stay in control of the innings.
In response, Shaaban Robert got down to a serious chase of the target set by their opponents but the former could only post 158 runs all out in 20 overs. Tight fielding and tricky bowling by Raptors proved too much for the Shaaban Robert batsmen and the latter's dream of a successful chase was dashed away when the side's remaining batsman was dismissed in the last over.
Aga Khan delivered another surprise when they dispatched the other favourites, Academy Boys Development, in the second semi-final played at the same venue. With the majority of Kawe B Primary Schools cricket team's youngsters also making the Raptors squad, Bairu will therefore be looking to deploy the same winning mentality that carried Kawe B all the way in the primary schools competitions but surprises could as well be in store for Raptors as Aga Khan has also proved to be a formidable side.