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Gyanendra’s APF survive Saurav scare

Saurav Khanal produced the first real entertainment of the Prime Minister Cup but his Western Region side lost to Nepal Armed Police Force (APF) Club as the Group ‘A’ games began from Sunday.

The former U-19 World Cup cricketer clobbered 11 sixes and three fours on his way to making 90 not out from just 49 balls but couldn’t avert the team’s 16-run loss against Gyanendra Malla-led APF.

Put in to bat first, APF were building a good partnership at 160-4 in 37 overs before rain intervened to halt the match for three and half hours. With no more APF batting possible, Western were provided with a revised target of 148 runs from 20 overs but they were stopped at 131-6.

Gyanendra Malla picked up three out of the first six wickets to fall for 33 runs in 9.2 overs but what unfolded at the TU Stadium looked surreal. Playing sensibly in the beginning with few big hits, Saurav launched his attack in the penultimate over at the point when Western needed 57 runs from the last 12 balls.

The allrounder pushed the match till the last over smashing Avinash Bohora for five sixes as Western needed 27 runs from the final six balls. Bidhan Shrestha gave Saurav the strike with a single off the first ball but Anil Sah held his nerve to stop the hitter. Western could only collect 10 runs from the final over with Saurav hitting a six.

Saurav was adjudged the man-of-the-match. Miserly eight-over spells from Sandeep Jhora (1-7) and Bhuwan Karki (1-7) proved crucial for APF. Saurav forged a 98-run unbeaten partnership with Bidhan who only managed eight runs from 24 balls without hitting a boundary.

Earlier, Subash Khakurel top scored from the APF top order with a 64-ball 50 hitting four boundaries and a six. Aasif Sheikh made 19 off 33 with three fours but APF were yet to consolidate their position after they were reduced to 94-4 in 23.3 overs.

Joined by Pradeep Airee, Gyanendra added 66 runs for the fifth wicket with what proved as a defining stand for APF. Pradeep made 45 from 52 balls with five fours and a six, while Gyanendra was unbeaten on 33 from 52 with two boundaries.

Lal Bahadur Adhikari took 2-31 form eight overs for Western, while Dhiraj Shahi and Bipin Khatri also had one scalp apiece.

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