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Titans brush aside minnows tag to set dream clash with Rhinos

Dec 26, 2019 | CN Staff |

Biratnagar Titans looked mundane when the Pokhara Premier League began for them. They had a farcical start when in the first match they shut down Dhangadhi Blues for a mediocre 117-8 in 20 overs but were themselves stopped at 112-9 after failing to get 24 runs from the last 18 deliveries.

A team without any established stars of domestic cricket after the departure of skipper Sandeep Lamichhane then sent a strong statement with a 45-run defeat of defending champions Pokhara Paltan. They were then dealt a hammer blow losing to Kathmandu Golden Warriors by 36 runs and giants Chitwan Rhinos by 18 runs in the next two games.

With their chances really hanging by the thread, the last day equation suggested they would now have a Herculean task to chase 134 runs in 12.2 overs against Butwal Blasters to go through at the expense of Warriors. They chased down the total in just 11.4 and as Blasters were depleted with exclusion of four regulars, the valiant effort was overlooked.

Titans came on Thursday for a rematch with Blasters in the Eliminator as an outsiders but went on to notch up a challenging 165-5 with their under performers prior to Thursday's game peaking at the right time. Blasters batting had completely revolved around their Indian trio and opener Aftabuddin Ahmed once again gave a quickfire start spearheading his side above 50 inside five overs.

The carnage of a 22-ball 43 from Ahmed included six boundaries and two sixes and just as it seemed it was going to be just another day for Butwal, lightning struck for them. Left arm spinner Shahad Alam previously had a tournament to forget but he ensured that he was scripting Titans day.

He bowled Ahmed in his first over and then choked Blasters batting order getting rid of Harsh Tonk (two) and Shivam Singh (14). Bhim Sharki tried to keep Blasters in the game with decent partnerships as they needed 36 runs from the last four overs.

With Bhim holding the innings and Sompal Kami at the other end, it initially looked gettable only for Kishore Mahato to provided Titans the impetus. Having hit for 33 runs in three overs, he conceded just three runs in the 17th over and removed Sharki.

After Zaid Alam conceded seven runs in the 18th and picked up a wicket, Blasters needed 26 from last two. Jitendra Mukhiya came up with a gem in the penultimate bowling a rare maiden and Puneet Mehra gave a perfect finishing taking three wickets in the last over to bundle out Blasters for 144. Like champions, Titans conceded just 17 runs in the last five overs to fix a dream clash with Paras Khadka-led Chitwan Rhinos.

While there defense of 166 runs was given the boost by Shahab, the batting was taken over by two home grown boys who had so far failed to contribute enough to the team. Sunil Dhamala led from the top order scoring his first half century of the tournament with a 54-ball 61 that included six fours and two sixes.

As Titans needed the lift, their captain Pradeep Airee did the job smashing a 13-ball 33 with four sixes and a boundary.


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