Defending champions Nepal APF Club defeated Tribhuvan Army Club (TAC) by two wickets and booked a place in the semi-finals of the Pepsi Standard Chartered One National Twenty20 Cricket Tournament at the Rangashala ground in Pokhara today.
APF edged TAC and Region-VIII (Pokhara) on net run rate after all three teams were tied on four points in Group ‘A’. In the same group from where Region-II (Birgunj) have already entered the last four as pool winners. Region-I (Biratnagar), meanwhile, underlined their title credentials to finish Group ‘B’ winners winning all their five league stage matches.
All eyes were set on a do-or-die match in Pokhara where a fighting half century from opener Mahesh Chhetri took TAC to 175-9 in 50 overs. APF had no notable scorers in their chase but a wayward TAC bowling spurred them to 176-8 in 45 overs in an innings that read 37 extras.
After losing opener Sanjay Shrestha (nine) early, Paresh Lohani and Subash Pradhan (20) kept APF in the chase with a 57-run stand. APF though kept on losing wickets, the second-wicket partnership was enough for them to take home.
Paresh top scored for APF with 32 off 59 hitting six boundaries, while Dipendra Chaudhary made 28 off 53 with two fours. Aakash Gupta made 17 runs off 18 balls with two fours and a six. Suman Shrestha picked up 3-21 for TAC.
TAC were indebted to Mahesh’ 60 off 114 to reach a respectable total. Mahesh hit five fours and a six. Surendra Chand made 27 off 47 with two fours. Man-of-the-match Ritesh Singh picked up three wickets for APF, while Dipendra Chaudhary and Bhuwan Karki had two scalps apiece.
Biratnagar edged Region-V (Nepalgunj) by 12 runs at the Pulchowk Engineering College grounds to set the semi-final clash with APF. Birgunj will play Group ‘B’ runners-up Bhairahawa. In an unimportant Group ‘B’ match; Region-III (Kathmandu) hammered Region-IX (Dhangadhi) by 78 runs. The semi-finals are on Sunday.
Biratnagar were 199 all out in 40.4 overs needing No 9 Raj Kumar Pradhan to up the ante with 49 off 43. Nepalgunj in reply were all out for 187 in 48.2 overs. Amar Singh Rautela made 48 off 84 for Nepalgunj with three fours and a six, while opener Subendhu Pandey hit eight boundaries in his 44 off 36. Man-of-the-match Raj Kumar – who hit four sixes and two fours in Biratnagar innings – took two wickets along with Siddhant Lohani and Puspa Thapa.
At the TU Stadium, Kathmandu made 242-9 riding on contrasting half centuries from Ashish Dhami and Suman Uday before a four-wicket haul from man-of-the-match Prabin Joshi saw Dhangadhi bundled out for just 164 in 36.2 overs with eight of their batsmen failing to reach double digits.
Raju Rijal made 52 off 48 with four fours and two sixes, while Sunil Dhamala made 42 off 51 with eight boundaries and Gyanendra Kunwar made 33. Sonu Tamang also picked up three wickets for Kathmandu. Earlier, Ashish scored 60 off 105 with four boundaries and Suman made 60 off 55 with eight hits to the fence. Lalit Bhandari picked up four wickets for Dhangadhi.