Tribhuvan Army Club (TAC) finally delivered a champions’ game to enter the semi-finals of the Pepsi Standard Chartered National Twenty20 Cricket Tournament on Tuesday.
Struggling for runs in their first two matches, TAC crushed Region No 4 (Bhairahawa) by nine wickets. It was also a victory that sent Region No 3 (Kathmandu) into the last four despite not being in action on Tuesday.
TAC and Kathmandu have six points each from their three matches. Bhairahawa (four points) had a chance to stay alive with a victory, while Region No IX (Mahendranagar) – who beat Region-VI (Baitadi) by 20 runs at Pulchowk – signed off with their first victory in national cricket along with Baitadi – winless.
After bundling out Bhairahawa for just 92 runs in 17 overs with Rahul Kumar BK picking up three wickets in a single over, Anil Mandal and Naresh Budhayer steered TAC to 93-1 in 14.1 following an unbroken 88-run stand.
TAC lost Sagar Pun (one) with just six runs on the board but Anil and Naresh displayed their class collecting runs at their will. Anil made 44 off 38 with seven boundaries and Naresh scored 38 from 42 with four hits to the fence.
Bhairahawa looked like heading towards a big total when Fazlur Rehman Khan showed some aggression making 40 off just 23 balls with four sixes and two boundaries but after he fell to Rupesh Srivastav, they lost the momentum. From 61-4, their scores read 70-7 after Rahul took three wickets in the 12th over.
Chandra Saud, Rupesh and Rajesh Pulami also picked up two wickets each.
With Nepal APF Club and Region No 2 (Birgunj) already making it through from Group ‘B’, Region-V (Nepalgunj) were playing an inconsequential match against Region-VIII (Pokhara) but they never looked like playing just for formality in Pulchowk.
Pokhara were 89 all out in 19 overs after man-of-the-match Aakash Bista (4-14) and Nijamuddin Halwai (3-17) shared seven wickets between them. Pradip Kharel picked two quick wickets reducing Nepalgunj to 16-2 in their chase but Mahesh Chhettri once again shined with the bat with his third half century of the tournament that saw his team finish at 90-2 in 16.2 overs.
Mahesh made 50 not out from 55 balls with four boundaries and shared 74 runs for the third wicket with Anupam Singh who was 32 not out from 39 balls.
Mahendranagar were playing against a team from where they had split and only managed 106-3 but with reputation at stake, they stopped Baitadi at 86-6 with everyone bowling their heart out. Binod Lama took two wickets for Mahendranagar.
Mahendra Chand (21), Basanta Khatri (17 not out) and Dilip Nath (16) made runs in double figures for Baitadi. Earlier, man-of-the-match Kamal Raj Joshi top scored with a 29-ball 32 for the new region hitting two maximum. Openers Sagar Joshi (28) and Dipendra Chand (25) also chipped in some valuable runs.
Region No 1 (Biratnagar) misery at the national continued when they were bundled out for just 87 in 17.1 overs against Region-VII (Janakpur). Bivek Jha was the only batsman to play with some resilience hitting a 25-ball 34 hitting four boundaries and a six.
Raj Mohammand picked up three wickets, while Sanjog Karn, Rahul Pratap Singh and Abhishek Jha also took two wickets each for Janakpur who replied with 91-2 from 15.5 overs.
Raj was the man-of-the-match with his 30 not out off 27 doing handing Janakpur their first victory in the tournament. Raj hit five boundaries and shared 47 unbeaten partnership for the third wicket with Rahul (22). Prahlad Shah also made 25 off 33 with four boundaries.