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Champ East Zone back in Shell U-19 final
OPENING batman Leonardo Francis hit a stroke-filled 86 and Kirstan Kallicharran made a boundary-studded 66 to position East Zone on Tuesday in the final of the Shell sponsored Under-19 Inter Zone cricket competition.
This was after Crystian Thurton slammed his second consecutive century of the tournament to give Central Zone a challenging total in the first semi-final of the age group competition staged at the National Cricket Centre Ground in Balmain, Couva.
Electing to bat first after winning the toss, Central made 251 all out in 49.5 overs in brilliant sunshine, but defending champions East rained on their parade with a clinical batting display to reach 253 for seven wickets in 47.1 overs.
Thurton, who notched 103 when Central beat South in the third round of the competition last week, was again in brilliant form as he made 106 off 129 balls with ten boundaries and two maximums in 171 minutes of exhilarating batting.
He got good support from opener Matthew Patrick who got 48 with six fours, while Saiba Batoosingh chipped in with 36 including four boundaries. Thurton also featured in two big partnerships, with Patrick worth 108 runs for the third wicket, and 80 with Batoosingh for the fourth.
Most outstanding bowler for East Zone was Sachin Seecharran who had an excellent spell of five overs with one maiden while claiming three wickets for 22 runs. Te-Shawn Alleyne snared two for 40 in six overs and one ball, while Renaldo Forrester and Aaron Mairam took one apiece.
With runs on the board, Central would have fancied their chances, but poor fielding and intermittent loose bowling proved their undoing as Francis crashed three boundaries and two maximums to fall just 14 short of a well-deserved century.
Batting prodigy Kallicharan, just back from a West Indies Under-19 specialised coaching programme, played a significant role in the East win with nine boundaries in his knock, while Seecharan contributed 29 and Leonardo Julien made 25 in the winning total.
For Central, Emilo Gopaul took two for 25; Kyle Madoo grabbed two for 26; while Jayden Seales, Batoosingh and James Duncan had one each.
East will now play the winner of the second semi-final between South-East and Tobago, scheduled for May 21 at Shaw Park in Tobago.
The final of the Shell U-19 Inter Zone tournament will be staged on April 28 at the NCC Ground in Balmain, Couva.