Sharad Vesawkar-led Biratnagar Kings has entered the final of the ongoing Dhangadhi Premier League T20 Cricket Tournament, registering a 29-run victory over Rupandehi Challengers in the first qualifier on Wednesday.
Despite the defeat, Rupandehi Challengers will get another chance as it will face Dhangadhi Team Chauaraha in the play-off on Thursday and a win will take the Shakti Gauchan-led team to the summit clash.
In the other match of the day, national team skipper Paras Khadka-led Chauraha defeated Kanchanpur Iconic by six wickets.
In the first match of the day at Cricket Ground, Dhangadhi, an impressive bowling display from spinner duo Sushil Kandel (4-15) and Sandeep Lamichhane (2-11) helped Biratnagar Kings to pack Rupandehi Challengers for just 99 runs, 30 runs short of the target.
Biratnagar Kings’ opener Nurdhoj Sen and Shahab Alam were ducked in Sushil’s deliveries while Puspa Thapa and Bikram Sob also were dismissed by the left arm spinner. Before being bowled out, Bikram made the highest 23 runs hitting two boundaries and a six off 16 balls while Puspa contributed 22 runs smashing three boundaries and a six off the 24 balls. Except Bikram and Puspa, none of the other batsmen touched double digit for Rupandehi Challengers.
Similarly, Sandeep sent middle-order batsmen Rajesh Pulami Magar (9) and Antim Thapa (2) to the pavilion, preventing Rupandehi Challengers from meeting the target. Biratnagar Kings’ Pawan Sarraf, Jitendra Mukhiya, Dipendra Singh Airee and Prakash Bista claimed one wicket each.
In the first innings of the match, Biratnagar Kings which chose to bat first after winning the toss made a total of 128 runs. Although openers Prakash Shrestha and Amit Shrestha couldn’t give a solid start as the first wicket fell just after 10 runs, Aasif Sheikh coming to bat at number three hit 36 runs to give his team a respectable total. Aasif smashed three boundaries and two sixes facing 41 balls. He also built up a 22-run partnership with Amit Shrestha for the second wicket and a 39-run partnership with Dipendra Singh Airee for the third wicket. Skipper Vesawkar contributed 24 runs hitting two sixes facing 22 balls. He also built up a 23-run partnership with Pawan Sarraf for the ninth wicket.
Rupandehi Challengers’ skipper Shakti Gauchan claimed three wickets while Dipesh Shrestha took two others. Similarly, Bikram Sob, Krishna Karki and Shahab Alam claimed one wicket each for the losing side.
After leading his team to the final, Biratnagar Kings’ skipper Vesawkar said that winning the toss was an important factor behind the victory. “We knew that Rupandehi Challengers are not very good at chasing the target. It’s not an easy pitch for a run-chase. So, we were confident about keeping them under pressure should we win the toss. And fortunately, we won the toss which was important for our victory,” said Vesawkar.
Meanwhile Rupandehi Challengers’ skipper Shakti Gauchan said that Wednesday’s performance was their worst in the tournament. “Every department of our team performed below par today. Our target was to pack the opponent within 110 runs but we couldn’t do that,” said Gauchan. It was the second consecutive defeat for Rupandehi Challengers as it had lost to Chauraha in the last league round match on Monday.
He also said that losing the toss was not the reason behind the defeat. “Even if we had won the toss we would chose to field as that was our plan. My plan was also to bat at ninth number,” added Gauchan
Meanwhile Chauraha overcame Basanta Regmi-led Kathmandu Goldens in the other match of the day to book its place in the second qualifier against Rupandehi Challengers. Kathmandu Goldens, which chose to bat first after winning the toss, made 123 runs.
Kathmandu Goldens’ openers Narseh Budayair and Shubhendhu Pandey gave a positive start to the innings building up a partnership of 41 runs for the first wicket. Naresh made 29 runs hitting five
boundaries facing 38 balls while Shubendhu contributed 11 runs off 18 balls. Sumit Maharjan and Rohit Kumar Paudel made 31 runs each. Chauraha’s Lalit Rajbanshi and Amar Routela claimed two wickets each while Ramnarseh Giri and Saurav Khanal took one wicket each.
Chauraha met the target in 18.2 overs losing just four wickets. Opener Anil Mandal hit the highest 44 runs smashing five boundaries and a six in 49 balls. Player-of-the-match Anil built up a 64-run partnership with Prithu Baskota for the second wicket. Middle order batsmen Prithu Baskota and Aarif Sheikh both contributed 22 runs each facing 23 and 11 balls respectively. Similarly skipper Khadka made 12 runs off 20 balls. Kathmandu Goldens’ Santosh Bhatta claimed two wickets while Manjeet Shrestha took one wicket.