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APF, Army in semis; Lumbini set up virtual quarter-final clash with Bagmati

Nepal Armed Police Force (APF) Club and Tribhuan Army Club entered the semi-finals of the Prime Minister Cup One Day National cricket tournament as Lumbini Province set up a virtual quarter-final with Bagmati Province on Saturday.

At the TU cricket ground, APF eased to a 71-run victory over Karnali Province for their third consecutive win in the tournament. APF climbed to the top of the table and their match against Army on Monday will decide the group winners.

APF victory also helped Army go through with both teams having one match in hand.

Meanwhile, in Group ‘B’, Lumbini bundled out Sudur Paschim Province for a tournament-low 62 at the the Mulpani Cricket Ground and will now battle it out against Bagmati at the same venue for a place in the semi-final.

Bagmati, who sit at the top of the table with three consecutive victories, will have an edge on better run rate and only a huge margin defeat will see them crash out. Lumbini and NPC have four points each with the former also edging ahead of the departmental side on net run rate.

Sudur Pascim had been the real minnows in the tournament bundled out for 119 and 110 in their their first two matches against Bagmati and NPC. With a relatively weaker side Lumbini against them, they were expected to put up some fight but they survived just 27.4 overs after Krishna Karki returned the man-of-the-match figures of 4-17 from 10 overs.

Only Narayan Joshi (17) and Santosh Bhatta (11) made runs in double figures for Sudur Paschim. Left arm spinner Anil Kharel bowled miserly giving away just six runs in seven overs to take two wickets. Leggie Bikram Bhushal also had two scalps.

Lumbini did lose four wickets in their chase but reached the target in 14.4 overs after Saurav Khanal (18 not out), Prakash KC (17 not out) and Krishna (17) chipped in for them. Sher Malla took two wickets for Sudur Paschim.

In TU, despite having an experienced batting line-up, APF were reduced to 67-5 and needed a 78-run partnership from Sandeep Jora and Amar Singh Routel to make a challenging 218 all out with one ball to spare.

Karnali batted with resistance playing 43.2 overs before making 147 on the back of a half century from Hemant Oli. The Southpaw added 56 runs for the fourth wicket with Himanshu Shahi (20) to put some respectability to the total. Hemant top scored with a 102-ball 58 that included six boundaries.

Basant Regmi (3-23) and Kishor Mahato (3-31) shared six wickets between them for APF, while Bhuwan Karki also had two scalps.

Earlier, APF rested in-form opener Aasif Sheikh but the move didn’t pack after Rit Gautam fell to his second consecutive duck in the tournament. Subash Khakurel (23) and captain Sharad Vesawkar (eight) added 35 runs but they lost another four wickets for just 32 runs.

Jora and Amar then got involved in a half century stand before the lower order pushed the total beyond 200. Man-of-the-match Jora scored a 76-ball 60 with five fours and two sixes, while Amar chipped in 31 off 54 hitting four boundaries and a six.

Anuj Chunara and captain Rabindra Jung Shahi took three wickets each for Karnali. Diwan Pun and Raj Shah also had two scalps apiece.

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