Region No 8 (Pokhara) made a short work of Region No 7 (Janakpur) in the Wai Wai U-19 National Cricket Tournament to reach the semi-finals as Group ‘A’ winners on Monday.
In a match that was reduced to 31-overs-a-side at the Army grounds in Bhaktapur, Pokhara defeated Janakpur by six wickets to underline their title credentials. Pokhara – who had their match against Region No 3 (Kathmandu) washed out due rain – led Group ‘A’ with five points and will meet Group ‘B’ runners-up Region No 1 (Biratnagar) in the first semi-final on Tuesday.
Region No 8 (Bhairahawa) joined Pokhara from the group as runners-up. Bhairahawa finished their league stage with four points.
After electing to field first, an all-round bowling display helped Pokhara restrict Janakpur for 114-8. They reached 116-4 in 27.1 overs with opener Khem Raj Poudel and Keshav Khatri building in a crucial partnership.
Pokhara lost opener Sanjosh Bhattarai (15) and Aakash Thapa (naught) in a space of one run to be reduced to 30-2 in five overs. But, Khem and Keshav shared a 71-run stand to shape the victory. Keshav made 22 off 56 with one boundary before Sushant Mandal dismissed him with Pokhara requiring just 14 runs.
Khem – who also fell to Sushant when Pokhara needed just five more runs – compiled 42 off 82 with two boundaries and a six. Kailash Mandal and Divanshu Malik also picked up a wicket each.
Janakpur were still in the game when Chandan Jha made some delightful strokes in his 33 off 42 with four boundaries. He shared 24 with opening partner Pravash Jha (eight) and another 24 with Samsad Sheikh before losing his wicket.
The middle order collapsed as Janakpur were reeling at 76-7 in 24.1 overs. Sushant and Kundan Singh lifted the team beyond triple figures collecting 37 runs in their eighth wicket stand. Sushant hit three fours in his 22 off 24 deliveries.
Sushil Kandel (2-13) and Khem (2-16) shared four wickets between them while Dipesh Shrestha, Bipin Khatri and Sangharsha Poudel picked up one wicket each.