For the last two days, Everest Premier League was all about wet outfield.
Durgesh Gupta had just lighten up the franchise Twenty20 competition with his swing and accurate pace when Bhairahawa Gladiators had removed Pokhara Rhinos to 65-7. Then came the rain.
A heavy downpour not only forced a wash out of that match but it also left the organisers with reluctant predicament of postponing the next two day’s fixtures. All because Nepal doesn’t have a Super Sopper or covers that would cover the entire ground.
Wednesday morning was sunny but the weather remained unpredictable. That same Sunday evening rain compounded with drizzles of Tuesday forcing a delayed outfield. But finally there was some game.
And the tournament was back, at least for Wednesday as forecast conditions are predicted for coming days as well.
With defending champions Lalitpur Patriots already losing their captain for the entire tournament, Pokhara Rhinos were favourites for their seven-over match. And the Rhinos lived up to expectations in a seven-over tie.
Three wickets from man-of-the-match Nandan Yadav and two from Bikram Sob helped Rhinos restrict Lalitpur to 51-6. Nandan bowled decisively giving away just five runs and picking up two wickets in the last over.
Rhinos had South African juggernaut Richard Levi who played uncharacteristically but made sure his side crossed the finishing line. Rhinos needed 11 runs from the last over and Levi smacked Pawan Sarraf for a four, six and a four to remain unbeaten on a 22-ball 38.
Rit Gautam, debuting in place of Sunil Dhamala who was pushed down the order, gave a decent start with 39-run stand as the U-19 skipper made 12 runs. Sri Lankan recruit Sandun Weerakkody had top scored for Lalitpur with a 16-ball 19.
Gladiators and Biratnagar Warriors faced off in a rematch of 2017 final and it was the former who exacted the revenge after another Ssri Lankan Dhammika Prasad and Aarif Sheikh starred with the ball.
In the 20-over game, three wickets each from Dhammika and Aarif had Warriors bundled out for just 89 in 17.4 overs. Pradeep Airee eased the chase making the majority of runs in his 27-run partnership with Bangladeshi star Tamim Iqbal.
Pradeep made 22 off 23 with three fours. Biratnagar hit back with wickets of Pradeep, Tamim (12), Rohit Kumar Paudel (12) and Aarif Sheikh (duck) but another Sri Lankan Upul Tharanga set sail the ship with a sensible 35-ball 34. Tharanga’s watchful innings included four boundaries.
Ramnaresh Giri took two wickets for Warriors as Gladiators now lead the table on net run rate after they were tied on points with Rhinos.