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Allround Bhuwan leads APF into PM Cup final

Nepal Armed Police Force (APF) Club knocked out defending champions Nepal Police Club from the semi-finals of the Prime Minister Cup One Day National cricket tournament with a 30-run victory at the TU grounds on Wednesday .

Put in to bat first, APF recovered from 43-4 to post a challenging 203-9 in 50 overs. NPC collapsed to 15-3 and despite forging few partnerships, all they could muster was 173 in 50 overs.

Aarif Sheikh’s return to the pitch with the bat after being stretchered off to hospital following an ankle injury welcomed applause but it was Bhuwan Karki’s allround performance that gave APF their second appearance in the final.

A stuttering APF managed to reach what ultimately was a winning total after Bhuwan chipped crucial runs down the order. The pint-sized utility allrounder then returned the figures of 4-21 from 9.2 overs beginning the defense perfectly with new ball.

Left arm spinner Bhuwan led the APF bowling attack and trapped opener Kushal leg before wicket for a duck in the second ball. After Kamal Singh Airee sent back another opener Sunil Dhamala (three), Bhuwan reduced Police to 15-3 with Sandeep Jora taking a sharp catch at mid-wicket.

Anil Sah (21) and Dipendra Singh Airee tired to rebuild the innings but the former was perfectly bowled by an off-cutter from Kamal to end the 46-run stand. As Police tried to rebuild the innings, APF struck when needed the most. Police were 157-7 when Aarif braved his injury and stepped on to the crease to cheers from hundreds of supporters at the Chobhar end.

Needing 46 from last 23 deliveries, Aarif targeted Kamal in the 48th hitting the seamer for a straight six and got struck two boundaries against Abinash Bohora in the 49th before losing his wicket to the same bowler. He made 16 off 14.

Aarif is consoled by APF players after he returned to the pavilion following his innings which came after braving his twisted ankle.

Pawan Sarraf top scored for NPC with a 61-ball 40 hitting two fours and a six, while Rashid’s 51-ball 34 included three boundaries and a maximum. Dipendra scored 69-ball 33. For APF, skipper Sharad Vesawkar, Abinash and Kamal also took two wickets apiece

Earlier, a burst of 10-over continuous spell from Aarif fetched Police three wickets before Sandeep Jora once again came to the rescue. He shared 64-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Shankar Rana helping side cross triple figures.

APF were still not safe after they lost three wickets including both set batsmen to be 144-7 by the 45th over. Bhuwan pushed his side towards a respectable total adding 38 runs for the eighth wicket with Kamal (19). Bhuwan chipped in a 56-ball 42 hitting two fours and a six.

Shankar top scored for APF with a 96-ball 44 with four boundaries, while Jora’s 43-ball 34 included three fours and a six. Lalit Narayan Rajbanshi (2-44) and Dipendra (2-42) shared four wickets between them for APF.

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