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Gladiators enter playoffs with Rhinos scalp

Bhairahawa Gladiators entered the playoffs of the TVS Everest Premier League (EPL) with a clinical seven-wicket victory over Pokhara Rhinos on Monday.
Rhinos skipper Shakti Gauchan’s decision to bat first backfired following a disciplined bowling performance from Sharad Vesawkar-led Gladiators as they were bundled out for 108 runs in 18.3 overs. Vesawkar led the chase with the bat guiding Gladiators to 110-3 in 17.4 overs. 
The victory has now given all the possibility for the Gladiators — with six points from four games — to reach the Qualifier. Even a defeat against Chitwan Tigers and an average victory over Rhinos over Lalitpur Patriots on Tuesday can place them in the Qualifiers. Rhinos, meanwhile, are under pressure to win their match against Patriots having written just four points in the table. 
After a sluggish start, opener Pratham Salunke sped up the scoring for Gladiators smashing Bikram Sob for five consecutive boundaries in the third over. Taj Wali bowled Salunke in the next over after the batsman made 25 from 12 balls with six boundaries.
Shakti Gauchan soon got rid of Hari Shankar Sah (three) but Sharad and Aarif Sheikh held firm with a brilliant 71-run unbroken fourth wicket stand. 
Aarif, who took time to settle in the crease looked in brilliant form hitting a 47-ball 48 with three fours and three sixes — two of them coming against Pakistan pace bowler Taj Wali. 
Sharad was unbeaten on 32 off 37 with three boundaries. Wali took two wickets for Rhinos.   
Rhinos once again had to thank their opener Israrullah for taking them above triple figures as the Pakistani batsman hit a 40-ball 41 with six boundaries. Opener Suni Dhamal made 15 off 16 with two fours and Asif Ali (10) was their next bes scorer. 
Saurav Khanal made an eight-ball nine with a six, while rest of Rhinos batsman caved in. Binod Bhandari’s poor form with the bat continued after he was dismissed for a golden duck by Sharad in the 12th over. Sharad also trapped Rajesh Pulami Magar for duck in the same over to destroy the middle order.
Right arm seamer Dipesh Shrestha (2-14), Sharad (2-18) and Krishna Karki (2-23) shared six wickets between them. Salunke, Hari Shankar Sah, Aarif Sheikh and Puneet Mehra also took one wicket each.  
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