Tribhuvan Army Club (TAC) emerged as one of the dominant forces in the domestic cricket claiming their first ever Senior One Day National Cricket Tournament title at the TU Stadium on Tuesday.
With a team assembled from some of the best players in the regional and national level, Army registered a five-wicket victory over Nepal Armed Police Force (APF) Club – a team that had dominated domestic cricket for a long time.
It was a battle between the teams with a haul of experience and a side that has young and energetic cricketers and the latter weighed heavy. Jitendra Mukhiya, Sagar Pun and Avinash Karn picked up seven wickets between them restricting APF to 164-9 in a final that was reduced to 45 overs due to wet outfield.
TAC reached 169-5 in 40.5 overs where an aggressive innings from skipper Binod Bhandari and patient knock from Naresh Budhayer and Rajesh Pulami Magar did the honour for the Armymen.
TAC went into the match boasting a strong opening pair of Anil Mandal and Mahesh Chhetri – who had four centuries between them in the run-up to the final. Anil has been in a sublime form scoring three centuries – a record in domestic cricket.
However, Paresh Lohani took a fine one-handed catch at point to dismiss Mahesh for a duck in the second over bowled by Yagyaman Kumal. Aarif Sheikh soon got rid of Anil (15) reducing TAC to 15-2.
Bhandari promote himself up the order and made his intentions clear smashing Yagyaman for a straight six. Bhandari shared 54 runs for the third wicket with Naresh before losing his wicket to Basanta Regmi. Bhandari made 48 off 52 with two sixes and three boundaries.
TAC then lost Rahul Kumar BK (one) and Sunam Gautam (10) in quick succession that saw them reeling at 107-5 in 27.3 overs. But Naresh and Rajesh batted sensibly and notched up an unbeaten 62-run stand for the sixth wicket that broke APF hearts. Rajesh made 35 off 49 with four boundaries and a six.
Naresh, desperate to regain his form after back to back failures in the domestic and international tournaments, final earned some consolation making a half century in a high-profile game. He made 53 off 97 balls with three boundaries, and a six off the last ball of the day that came off Dipendra Chaudhary.
Earlier, APF lost Subash Khakurel and Paresh Lohani with both openers failing to open their account. Paras, playing his first and only match of the tournament, shared 44 runs for the third wicket with Pradeep Airee to put them on track.
Paras lost his wicket to Rahul for 18 off 35 that included three boundaries. Sagar and Jitendra struck regularly picking up four middle order wickets that left APF tottering at 85-7 in 23.3 overs. Gyanendra Malla and Basanta pushed them towards respectability with a 47-run eighth wicket partnership.
Gyanendra was out for 24 off 42 hitting three boundaries, while Basanta was unbeaten on 37 off 63 with three fours and a six. Jitendra picked up 3-22 from seven overs, while Sagar and Avinash had two scalps apiece.
Man of the match Naresh Budayair of Tribhuwan Army Club
Best bowler Kamal Airee of Region No. 6, Baitadi
Best batsman Anil Mandal of Tribhwan Army Club
Man of the series Mahesh Chhetri of Tribhuwan Army Club
Emerging player Yogendra Karki of Region No. 6, Baitadi
Winner: Rs. 2,00,000
Runner Up: Rs. 1,25,000
Man of the Series: Rs. 30,000
Best Batsman: Rs. 20,000
Best Bowler: Rs. 20,000
Emerging Player: Rs. 10,000