Nepal APF Club and Region No 2 (Birgunj) entered the semi-finals of the Pepsi Standard Chartered National Twenty20 Cricket Tournament on Monday.
APF trounced Region No 1 (Biratanagar) by 86 runs in at the TU Stadium in their last group stage match where Gyanendra Malla smashed Manjeet Shrestha for 30 runs in an over. APF finished Group ‘B’ winners with nine points and Birgunj – who edged Region No 7 (Janakpur) by two wickets – joined them as runners-up with eight points.
Birgunj victory was a heartbreak for Region No 5 (Nepalgunj) as they crashed out despite doing good in the tournament. Nepalgunj had bundled out APF for just 92 runs only to see rain wash out the match. After losing to Birgunj on Sunday, Nepalgunj have five points from four matches and their last group stage game will bear no significance.
In Group ‘A’, Tribhuvan Army Club (TAC) prevailed in a duel of newly established teams defeating Region No 9 (Mahendranagar) by four wickets, while Region No 4 (Bhairahawa) saw off Baitadi by 25 runs.
The day belonged to Gyanendra who smashed Manjeet for 6, 6, 6, 6, 4, 2 in the final over that gave APF a mammoth 194-4. Biratnagar answered with 108-9 with opener Sunny Pun begin their lone fighter making 62 off 47 that included nine boundaries and a six.
Shakti Gauchan took three wickets for APF, while Dipendra Chaudhary and Bhuwan Karki also had two scalps apiece. Before Gyanendra smashed 63 off 24 balls, Pradeep Airee had made 63 from 45 balls with seven boundaries and two sixes. Skipper Paras Khadka made nine-ball 25 with three sixes and Sharad Vesawkar scored 21 off 10 with three boundaries and a six.
Birgunj had their No 9 batsmen Ramnaresh Giri to thank for along with 33 extra runs conceded by Janakpur after they struggled to answer the former’s 115-7 to finish at 117-8 with just three balls to spare.
An unlikely defeat was awaiting Birgunj when their scores read 97-8 after 17.5 overs but Ramnaresh hit three boundaries in his unbeaten 13 off seven to seal the victory. Bikram Basnet (21) and Aarif Sheikh (17) were the other batsmen to make runs in double digits.
Janakpur were 69-6 from 15.3 overs before Rahul Pratap Singh and Sameer Nepal (18) saved their blushed with a 40-run stand. Rahul Pratap made 30 off 25 with three boundaries and a six. Ramnaresh also took two Janakpur wickets.
TAC restricted Mahendranagar to 99-6 but needed a 68-run partnership for the fourth wicket between Naresh Budhayer and Rajesh Pulami to rescue them. Naresh made 38 off 40 with three fours and Rajesh scored 25 off 30 that too TAC to 101-4 with five balls remaining.
Dipendra Airee took two wickets for Mahendranagar for whom Surendra Chand top scored with 41 off 44 with two sixes and shared 46-runs for the third wicket with skipper Raju Sharma who made 27 off 19 with three boundaries and a six. Rajesh also took two Mahendranagar wickets.
Bhairahawa had a shaky start at 40-4 but Prakash KC and Amit Shrestha led the charge to save them with a 79-run stand. Baitadi innings was closed at 113-9 where Mahendra Chand top scored with 48 off 52 with seven boundaries.