Gyanendra Malla smashed 90 runs off just 44 deliveries as defending champions Nepal APF Club crushed Region No 8 (Pokhara) in the inaugural day of the Pepsi Standard Chartered National Twenty20 on Thursday.
At the Pulchowk Engineering College grounds, APF underlined their title credentials once again piling a mammoth 193-4 with the whirlwind knock from Gyanendra after the holders elected to bat first. Pokhara, in reply, were restricted to 101-6. There were also victories for Region No 3 (Kathmandu), Region No 2 (Birgunj) and Region No 5 (Nepalgunj).
The opening day belonged to Gyanendra as he smashed seven sixes and as many fours to lay a foundation of a big total. With a strong batting line-up led by national team skipper Paras Khadka, APF began on a positive note with Subash Khakurel and Paresh Lohani (seven) adding 27 runs for the first wicket.
After the departure of both the openers, Gyanendra added 86 runs for the third wicket with Dipendra Chaudhary and completed his half century in 31 balls. After Dipendra lost his wicket to Anil Gurung, Gyanendra added another 43 runs with skipper Paras Khadka.
Man-of-the-match Gyanendra smashed 40 runs in just 13 balls after completing his half century. Paras smashed 35 off 13 with four boundaries and two sixes, while Subash made 27 off 17 with six fours. Dipendra’s 25-ball 24 included one six and a four.
Anil Gurung took two wickets for Pokhara, who were undone by a strong and disciplined bowling attack led by national team spearhead Amrti Bhattai. Bhuban Karki took 2-19 from four overs in his debut with the APF and Rom Shrestha took 2-29.
Dipesh Khatri made 29 off 26 with three boundaries for Pokhara. Santosh Gurung (18), Rijan Prajoo (15) and Amrit Shrestha (11) also made runs in doubel figures.
Birgunj crushed Reigon No 1 (Biratnagar) by nine wickets and Kathmandu hammered Region No 4 (Bhairahawa) by 84 runs for a solid start in the tournament. Birgunj restricted Biratangar to 85-9 after Kumar Thapa picked up 3-16 from four overs.
National U-19 team opener Amit Shrestha then made a composed 43 off 49 balls as Birgunj reached 86-1 in 14.1 overs. Amit hit seven boundaries in his unbeaten innings and took the team across the finishing line with Suraj Patel who made 18 not out from 21 balls.
Hasim Ansari had given Birgunj a solid start in a low chase adding 41 runs in 5.1 overs for the opening wicket with Amit. Hasim hit three fours to make 19 off 15 before losing his wicket to Pushpa Thapa.
Earlier, Manjeet Shrestha – currently in the national team camp – was the only Biratnagar batsman to offer resistance making 28 off 25 with three boundaries. Other failed to reach double figures. Aarif Sheikh also picked up two wickets for Birgunj, while former national team skipper Binod Das, Jitendra Mukhiya and Ram Naresh Giri also took one wicket apiece.
Kathmandu made a challenging 162-5 at the TU Stadium and Anil Karki did the rest of the job for them picking up 4-3 from just 2.1 overs to pack up Bhairahawa for just 78 in 14.1 overs. Fazlur Rehman Khan made 28 off 11 with six boundaries and that was the only brighest part of Bhairahawa innings.
Antim Thapa made 17 off 23. Niraj Basnet (3-11) and Prakash Bista (2-13) dealt early blows to Bhairahawa and Arpan Kafle took the other wicket.
Kathmandu were reeling at 85-5 in 13.5 overs after Fazlur took 2-15 for Bhairahawa with Dipendra Yadav and Devendra Somare took one wicket apiece. However, Bivatsu Thapa and Arjun Adhikari rescued them with an unbeaten 75-run partnership for the sixth wicket.
Bivatsu hammered 44 off 26 with three sixes and two fours and Arjun hit two sixes and as many boundaries making 33 off 21. Niraj who also made 17 off 15 was adjudged the man-of-the-match, while Suraj KC hit a run-a-ball 26 with two sixes.
In the second match at the Engineering College grounds, Nepalgunj defeated Region No 7 (Janakpur) by 25 runs. Batting first, Nepalgunj made 142-7 with a half century from Mahesh Chhetri. Janakpur made a good reply with skipper Hari Shankar Shah (24) and Chandan Jha (25) adding 42 runs for the first wicket in 8.2 overs.
However, Janakpur lost their six wickets for just 26 runs after the opening stand to be reduced to 68-6 in 14.1 overs. Sunil Shah (21) and Rajaul Mustafa (18) gave some hope to the team with a 37 runs stand for the seventh wicket but to no avail.
Nijamuddin Halwai (3-27) and Akash Bista (3-16) did most of the damage for Janakpur. Earlier, man-of-the-match Mahesh made exactly 50 off 52 with two fours and a six that took Nepalgunj to a modest total.
Subendu Pandey (25), Nasir Ansari (17 not out) and Rupesh Sharma (14) were other notable scorers for Nepalgunj. Hari Shankar and Raj Mohammad took two wickets each for Janakpur.