Kathmandu Kings XI rode on a power packed batting performance from Zimbabwean Ryan Burl and Afghan Rahmanullah Gurbaaz after seamer Jitendra Mukhiya gave the initiative with the ball to comprehensively thrash defending champions Lalitpur Patriots by seven wickets in the opening match of the Everest Premier League on Saturday.
At a vibrant TU Stadium, Jitendra took 4-18 that helped Kings XI restrict Lalitpur to 157-8 in 20 overs. Wicketkeeper batsman Gurbaaz and Burl made merry at the pitch with explosive half centuries as Kings XI reached the target with 34 balls to spare.
Kings XI had a disastrous start when opener Subash Khakurel (duck) and No 3 batsman Amit Shrestha (four) ran themselves out with pin point throws from Shankar Rana. But Gurbaaz gave Patriots bowlers a day to forget bringing boundaries at his will.
Gurbaaz did the bulk of scoring in his 76-run partnership with Burl. Taking much of the strike during the stand, Gurbaaz struck four sixes and as many boundaries on his way to scoring a 24-ball 50. Patriots, who had their regular captain opting out of the tournament, hit back with the wicket of Gurbaaz but it hardly paid dividends.
Burl began from where Gurbaaz had left with lusty hitting smashing a 34-ball 73 not out. He struck left arm spinner Lalit Narayan Rajbanshi for four sixes and a boundary in a single over while forging an unbeaten 72-run stand with Raju Rijal (19 off 13).
Man-of-the-match Burl hit seven sixes and four boundaries. Gurbaaz compiled a 36-ball 59. Pawan Sarraf was the only wicket taker for Lalitpur, a team that now looks below average with poor bowling attack.
Patriots innings was built around crucial contributions from Pawan and Yogendra Singh Karki. Patriots were shell shocked in the first over when Jitendra dismissed their new skipper Kushal Bhurtel for a first ball duck and foreign recruit Sandun Weerakoddy (two).
Gulshan Jha then trapped another Sri Lankan Oshada Fernando (four) reducing Patriots to 7-3 in the second over. Pawan resurrected the innings with a 56-run partnership for the fourth wicket.
Pawan’s innings flourished further in a 62-run partnership with Yogendra Singh Karki as he smashed sixes against both Shahid Afridi and Sandeep Lamichhane. The two global superstars of the game bled 76 runs in their collective eight overs, going wicketlesss.
Pawan notched-up first half century of the tournament making a 44-ball 61 with five fours and three sixes. Yogendra chipped in 20-ball 33 with three sixes.
Mikyo Dorji, who became the first Bhutanese player ever to play in any franchise cricket, scored 17 off 13 with a six and a four. Jitendra was the pick of the Kings XI bowlers taking 4-18.
Gulshan Jha (2-35) and Burl (2-20) shared four wickets between them.