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Sharad's Gladiators out to put Warriors in-form trio in check

Dec 29, 2017 | Cricketingnepal |

The exciting colourful contest of the Everest Premier League awaits a perfect climax on Saturday when Paras Khadka’s Biratnagar Warriors will clash Sharad Vesawkar’s Bhairahawa Gladiators in the final match at what is expected to be a full house at the TU Stadium.EPL so far had been a perfect entertainment for cricket lovers who, over the last two weeks, witnessed nail biting contest, impact made by foreign cricketers and young local boys who have managed to impress at the best for their team.

Despite begin swept aside clinically by Warriors in the league stage and first Qualifier, Gladiators batsman Rohit Kumar Paudel ensured that the final will live a renewed life after he landed his team in the final with a ferocious hitting on Thursday in the second Qualifier against Lalitpur Patriots.

Rohit is one of the two local boy who have made impressed in the tournament, the other one is his teammate Aarif Sheikh. Aarif’s younger brother Aasif hasn’t have the best of the EPL reaching the double figures only once in the tournament but for a man who set the tournament ablaze in the previous edition smashing a century in the final last time, Paras will continue to keep expectations.

But for Gladiators, it has all been about Aarif, Rohit, their Indian recruit Puneet Mehra and skipper Sharad himself. Sharad knows his side was cleanly swept in the previous two games, losing by 35 runs in the league stage and eight wickets in the first Qualifier. But he wants to leave the past behind considering the intensity the final will have.

“We are competing in the final tomorrow and have to forget what has happened in the previous two matches. We will be making fresh start and Saturday will be different for us,” said Sharad on the eve of the match.

Warriors have made 866 runs out of the six matches they have played before the final. Their top order has been exceptional, barring Aasif, with the Hong Kong duo of Anshuman Rath and his national team captain Babar Hayat combining for 532 runs, more than 50 percent of the Warriors entire score in the tournament.

Hayat, particularly, has been menacing for all the bowlers in the tournament smashing 17 sixes so far. He is the leading scorer in the tournament with 302 runs that include three half centuries and the tournament-high individual total of 81 runs. Behind Hayat is Anshuman who has mostly played the role of an anchor, notching up 230 runs with two half centuries.

If Gladiators want to have an edge in the game, Sharad must find way to get rid of Hayat and Rath early in the game. But getting the Hong Kong duo might not suffice as Paras himself has been in a prime form and would like to make the final his own. Paras' quickfire 42 not out against Gladiators clearly suggests he is itching to get runs. But Paras believes he has all the bases covered even if the in-form trio fails in the final.

“All of our players (in the batting order) have belief in themselves. They have not got amongst runs because they haven’t have got chances as Babar and Anshuman have been doing much of the scoring. They should stand up because it is an opportunity for them as well,” said Khadka.

While Warriors only had their matches against Pokhara Rhinos and Kathmandu Kings XI go down to the wire, Gladiators have struggled in their run up to the final. Both of their matches against the Patriots had gone till the final over and their top order has not been contributing in the team’s success.



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