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Allround Pooja hands RCW a maiden title

Foreign cricketers, particularly allrounder Pooja Nimavat, starred as Rising Cricket Women (RCW) of Kathmandu claimed the Ruslan Attariya Cup Women’s Twenty20 title with a 16-run victory over Nepal Armed Police Force (APF) Club on Tuesday.

In the final at the APF cricket grounds, Pooja shone with both bat and ball as RCW ended a long-time domination of APF in the women’s domestic cricket. Pooja built the foundation as RCW reached 152-5 after they elected to bat first. She then picked up four wickets and affected two run outs as APF were restricted to 136-9 in 20 overs.

The final victory saw RCW claim Nepal’s highest cash prize women’s cricket tournament collecting a cash purse of Rs 200,000. APF got Rs 100,000. It was first ever domestic tournament title for RCW.

After losing promoted opener Indu Berma (three) for 18 runs, Jyoti Pandey kept APF in the chase anchoring the innings as other incoming batswomen switched to attacking gears.

Sarita Magar made a run-a-ball 21 with two boundaries, while Karuna Bhandari struck a 20-ball 24 with five hits to the fence. With Jyoti holding the innings, APF looked like approaching the finishing line but Pooja ended their resistance once she ran out the opener in the 17th over.

APF needed just 31 runs from the remaining 23 balls during that period. Pooja then picked up three more wickets and affected another run out as RCW staged a remarkable fightback with the ball.

Jyoti was the leading scorer of the final making 48 from 42 balls with five boundaries to her name. Pooja returned the figures of 4-17 from four overs, while Shahanabaz Parveen and Kriti Sen took a wicket each.

Earlier, Pooja gave RCW a dream start combing with Shahanabaz for a 69-run opening wicket stand in 9.3 overs. Shahanabaz made a run-a-ball 25 with three fours. Next to go was Pooja after scoring 37 from 38 balls hitting four boundaries. But their dismissal hardly mattered as Shampa Mukherjee, Nary Thapa (13), Shanti Khatiwada and skipper Aarati Bidari (13 not out) all contributed valuable runs to RCW total.

Shampa made 23 from 18 with four boundaries and Shanti chipped in 21 off 14 with three fours. Sarita took 3-29 from four overs, while Karuna had the figures of 2-24 from her four.

Pooja later walked away with player-of-the-series award having made 107 runs and picked up 11 wickets in the tournament. She grabbed a purse of Rs 25,000. Jyoti, Sarita and Shampa were named the best batswoman, bowler and wicketkeeper respectively. The trip received Rs 10,000 each.

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