Lalitpur Patriots entered the playoffs of the Everest Premier League (EPL) Twenty20 with an eight wicket victory over Pokhara Rhinos in their last league game of the tournament at the TU Stadium.
Only a big-margin defeat could have knocked Patriots out from the league stage but they made sure they go into the Eliminator with high head after openers Jaykishan Kolsawala and Shankar Rana laid the foundation for victory.
Patriots will now meet Rhinos once again on Wednesday’s Eliminator. The winner of the Eliminator will take on the loser of Wednesday’s Qualifier match between Biratnagar Warriors and Bhairahawa Gladiators in the second Qualifier on Thursday. Rhinos were pushed to fourth in the points table on net run rate after they were tied with Patriots on two points.
Electing to field first, Patriots restricted Rhinos to 132-5 in 20 overs despite their opener Sunil Dhamala remaining unbeaten on 70 from 62 balls. Kolsawala and Shankar gave a strong start to Patriots before the match went to the final over and skipper Gyanendra and Sunny Patel settled the nerves guiding the side to 138-4 in 20 overs.
Patriots needed seven runs from the last over and they almost lost a wicket of a run out in the second ball from Sushan Bhari Shrestha. Bhari bowled Dipesh Bhandari in the third ball leaving Patriots to score four runs from the last three balls. New man Sunny gave strike back to Gyanendra who took a couple in the penultimate ball before hitting a six off the last ball.
Gyanendra finished at a 17-ball 27 with a six and a four. Kolsawala and Shankar gave the best start notching up 84 runs from 12.5 overs. Kolswala made 56 off 45 with four boundaries and three sixes. Shankar made 35 from 39 with five boundaries. Both batsmen fell to Israrullah.
Earlier, Rhinos lost their opening duo of Israrullah (three) and Asif Ali (two) with just 26 runs on the board before Sunil and Rajesh Pulami Magar added 66 runs for the third wicket.
Rajesh made a run-a-ball 32 with two fours and a six. Sunil hit five sixes and two boundaries in his knock. Binod Bhandari was out for a seven-ball 12 with two boundaries. Rashid Khan, Dipesh, Lalit Narayan Rajbanshi and Sandeep Lamichhane took one wicket each for Patriots.