The four teams in Pool B at the National Men’s Cricket Championship taking place in Benin-City-Rivers, Ebonyi, Kaduna, and Oyo will take to the Turf Wickets for their preliminaries on Thursday at the Edo Boys High School in Benin City after Pool A completed their preliminaries on Wednesday.
Kaduna and Rivers will open the rounds for the group in the morning while Ebonyi-a last-minute call up to replace Delta State that pulled out of the event- and Oyo State will play later in the afternoon.
Meanwhile the roster for the semi-final slots became clearer on Wednesday when the two favourites in Pool A-Lagos and Edo States- played out a nail-biting final match. Benin triumphed over the star-studded Lagos team by 4 runs.
Despite the loss, Lagos still topped the group with Edo in second place. Edo’s victory dashed the hopes of Anambra who had earlier beaten Kwara, hoping to ride on an expected Lagos win over Edo to make it into the semifinals.
“I think the two teams that qualified justified their place in the semis,” said Uthe Ogbimi, the national U-19 coach.
He added that both teams exposed each other’s vulnerabilities but he believes, “they can go back and address (these gaps) as the game progresses to the 50 over round”.
He also praised the dogged nature of the hosts, which he said gave them victory over their more fancied opponents. The two other teams in Pool A, Anambra and Kwara have thus been sent packing from the tournament.
Meanwhile, Enesi Habeeb, the Technical Director of the Nigeria Cricket Federation said the event has lived up to its billing as most of the players at the event have widened the national team’s considerations through their showing at the tournament.
“This event is living up to what we hope it will achieve for us in team selection and technical details. It is obvious we have a lot of work to do and I believe the National Head Coach, Asanka (Gurusinha), who is also on the ground, has his notes full,” Habeeb added.
The championship continues until next week, scheduled to be rounded on March 31 with the final game.