Binod Bhandari notched up his first century in domestic cricket as Tribhuvan Army Club (TAC) got off to a winning start in the Prime Minister Cup One Day National cricket tournament on Friday.
In what was expected to be a one sided affair, Army returned with a scratchy 97-run victory over a valiant Gandaki Province. On a batting pitch at the TU grounds, Bhandari made the most of a decent start from their openers steering his team to 287-8 in 50 overs.
Gandaki were expected to spiral down against a strong Army attack but they put up a fight to score 189 all out in 48 overs. After losing opener and veteran batsman Deepesh Khatri (one) in the fourth over, 15-year old Arjun Kumal anchored the innings for Gandaki with a half century partnership with Sameer Kandel.
Arjun, belied his edge to play with guile against sharp TAC bowling attack which still looked good in absence of Abu Dhabi T10 League trio Sompal Kami, Karan KC and Kushal Malla. Arjun made a 54-ball 36 with six hits to the fence.
Sameer added another 70 runs for the third wicket with Deepak Dumre (26) leading his side to a respectable total. Sameer scored exactly 50 off 90 with five hits to the fence. Skipper Bipin Khatri pushed them close to 200-run mark hitting four sixes and two boundaries in a 25-ball 37 not out.
With premier bowlers failing to pick wickets, part timers Rajesh PulamI Magar returned a fifer conceding just 25 runs in nine overs. Another part timer Bhim Sharki took 3-26 from seven overs.
The day belonged to Bhandari who waited for more than 11 years to bring up his first century in domestic cricket. Raju Rijal and Hare Krishna Jha (14) began the morning by a cautious 63-run partnership for the first wicket.
Raju scored 45 off 71 with four boundaries and a six. Army were still not at a comfortable zone at 111-4 before Bhandari began the resurrection.
He shared 73 runs for the fifth wicket with Rajesh (38) and 103 runs for the sixth with Lokesh Bam. Bhandari’s 76-ball 111 included nine fours and five sixes.
Lokesh, playing his first match for the departmental side, looked promising in a 30-ball 42 that included three fours and two sixes. Bipin and Bishal Paudel took two wickets each for Army.