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Biratnagar, Birgunj itching for final spot

Region No 1 (Biratnagar) and Region No 2 (Birgunj) will look to make most of the national team stars’ no show to enter the final of the Pepsi Standard Chartered One Day National Cricket Tournament on Sunday.


Biratnagar meet defending champions Nepal APF Club at the Pulchowk Engineering College grounds and Birgunj will meet Region No 4 (Bhairahawa) at the Tribhuvan University grounds. Though APF have headed into the tournament as the holders, they have been depleted by a no-show of their seven national team stars who had boycotted the tournament in wake of an outburst against CAN’s working ways.


While Biratnagar finished Group ‘B’ winners with thumping victories in all their five matches, Group ‘A’ runners-up APF needed to sweat a lot before finally edging Region-VIII (Pokhara) and Tribhuvan Army Club on net run rate to go through. Biratnagar have been putting an all round show and they will once again pin their hopes on performance from their veterans Mehboob Alam and Raj Kumar Pradhan.


Mehboob has redefined himself with the tournament putting an allround display, while Raj Kumar has been mysterious to almost all opponents. Biratnagar will also expect much from their centurions Sunny Pun and Siddhant Lohani.


APF — missing regular skipper Paras Khadka, Sharad Vesawkar, Basanta Regmi, Shakti Gauchan, Subash Khakurel, Gyanendra Malla and Amrit Bhattarai – due to the boycott have been struggling to find any touch and will expect U-19 skipper Bhuwan Karki, Yagya Man Kumal, Sanjam Regmi, Paresh Lohani and Dipendra Chaudhary.


Birgunj have been over the moon after winning all their league matches convincingly to top Group ‘A’ but the biggest problem they would like to get solved is their underperforming front line batsmen Amit Shrestha and Hasim Ansari.


Both the key batsmen have failed to deliver in their four league matches with Aarif Sheikh and Ram Naresh Giri saving them in most of the times. Aarif and Ram Naresh have both been performers from Birgunj along with skipper Kumar Thapa.


If Amit and Hashim find form in the semi-finals, that could be a big trouble for Bhairahawa who lost only one match in Group ‘B’ to follow Biratnagar as runners-up. Bhairahawa are the runners-up of the last edition and have won almost all of their matches owing to their spin attack. Birgunj batting line-up is certain to get a tough challenge from Sushan Bhari Shrestha and Lal Bahadur Adhikari.  

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