Amit Shrestha played a responsible innings as Region No 2 (Birgunj) defeated defending champions Region No 1 (Biratnagar) by four wickets to enter the semi-finals of the Wai Wai U-19 National Cricket Tournament on Wednesday.
Birgunj’s victory at the TU grounds also sent Region No 3 (Kathmandu) in the last four from Group ‘A’ as both teams have four points each from two matches. Biratnagar and Region No 6 (Baitadi) were shown exit doors with still four teams left to play one matches each.
A sixth-wicket resurgence helped Biratnagar reach 201-8 but Amit answered in his own way involving in two big stands as Birgunj reached 205-6 in 46.3 overs. Amit gave a perfect start to Birgunj adding 48 runs for the first wicket with Aqueit Ali Ansari (15).
The consistent batsman in national tournaments then collected a match winning 89 runs for the second wicket with Suraj Prasad Kurmi. Birgunj then lost their next three wickets – Amit being one of them – for just two runs but Suraj patiently handled Biratnagar bowlers. Amit made 72 off 93 with eight boundaries.
Suraj shared 50 runs with Anil Kumar Shah that all but sealed the match for Birgunj. Suraj remained unbeaten on 60 from 110 balls hitting four boundaries, while Anil made 32 off 31 with five fours and a six. Kalicharan Yadav took two wickets for Biratnagar with Rohit Singh, Puran Bishwakarma, Siddhant Lohani and Mukunda Yadav getting one victim each.
Mobin Ali and Siddhant had rescued Biratnagar from 76-5 with a 109 run stand. Siddhant made 65 off 68 with nine boundaries and a six and Mobin remained unbeaten on 50 off 123 balls striking five boundaries. Somesh Yadav made 43-ball 37 in the top order. Arif Sheikh took two wickets for Birgunj and Ram Naresh had two scalps.
Mahendranagar top Group ‘B’
Region No 9 (Mahendranagar), meanwhile, posed themselves as serious title contenders thrashing Region No 7 (Janakpur) by eight wickets in a match that decided group winners. Mahendrangar finished atop the table with eight points and Janakpur finished runners up on six.
Arjun Chapagain and Lalit Bhandari took three wickets each to restrict Janakpur to 166 all out in 40.2 overs. A brilliant batting from Dipendra Chand then saw Mahendranagar answer with 167-2 in 34.5 overs.
Dipendra perfectly led Mahendranagar start giving an 89-run opening stand with Sunil Damala (24). He added another 71 runs with Raju Rijal (28) as the partnership left them just six runs sigh off victory. Dipendra remained unbeaten on 87 from 105 balls in an innings that featured 14 boundaries.
Janakpur were 101-7 after 25.2 overs only for Sameer Nepal and Saurav Rajbanshi (10) to give some respectability to the total with a 43-run stand. However, after Arjun Chapagain dismissed both batsmen in a space of six runs, the brief comeback ended. Sameer made a run-a-ball 37 hitting five boundaries. Skipper Bhuwan Karki also had two scalps.
Pokhara stun in a low scoring thriller
Two already-eliminated teams from Group ‘B’, Region No 8 (Pokhara) and Region No 5 (Nepalgunj) were playing for pride at the Pulchowk Engineering College grounds. Nepalgunj might have sniffed their first victory in the tournament after bundling out Pokhara for 80 in 31.3 overs.
But, Pokhara hit back really hard when five-wicket haul from Sushil Khandel packed up Nepalgunj for 74 in 20 overs. Apart from Sushil, Sangharsha Poudel also took three wickets for Nepalgunj. Wasim Halwai (18) and No 11 Anup Neupane (17) were the only Nepalgunj batsmen to make runs in double figures.
Earlier, Pokhara were undone by three wickets each from Amar Singh Routela and Bhupendra Roka as they kept losing wickets on regular intervals. Sushil (16) was the man-of-the-match for Pokhara, while Dipesh Shrestha made 12. Siddhanta Shahi and Aakash Bista also took two wickets each for Nepalgunj.