Aarif Sheikh put an all round display as Region No 2 (Birgunj) stunned a star-less defending champions Nepal APF Club in the Pepsi Standard Chartered One Day National Cricket Tournament at the Rangashala grounds in Pokhara on Friday.
After the national team members from the departmental side – skipper Paras Khadka, Basanta Regmi, Shakti Gauchan, Sharad Vesawkar, Pradeep Airee, Gyanendra Malla and Amrit Bhattarai –, APF had an assembled team with few of their own and needed an 88-run stand between Sanjam Regmi and Bhuwan Karki to put a respectable 181 all out in 41.3 overs.
Aarif, who took three wickets in APF innings, starred with the bat as well combining with Robin Gurung for a century stand and taking Birgunj to 186-5 with 51 balls to spare. The victory puts Birgunj on course for semi-final after their second back to back win.
Birgunj were reeling at 50-4 at one stage but Aarif and Robin shared 103 runs for the fifth wicket to stun the holders. Robin made a 51-ball 52 hammering six boundaries and two sixes before he was trapped leg before by Sanjam.
Aarif then finished off the chase with a 28-run stand with Shiva Tandukar (15). Aarif remained unbeaten in his patient 56 off 85 with eight boundaries and a six. Sanjam took 2-40 and Bhuwan took 1-36 from 10 overs.
Earlier, APF were in dire straits and heading towards a humiliating total when they lost their first six wickets for just 64 runs in 13.1 overs after man-of-the-match Aarif and Ramnaresh Giri took three wickets each.
Bhuwan and Sanjam rescued APF from a disastrous total. Bhuwan was aggressive hitting six sixes and two fours in his 59 off 62, while Sanjam frustrated Birgunj bowlers making 42 runs consuming 117 balls. He hit three fours. Gaurav Singh also took three wickets.