Tribhuvan Army Club (TAC) made a shaky debut, while Nepal APF Club and Region No 2 (Birgunj) won their respective matches to take a huge stride towards the semi-finals of the Pepsi Standard Chartered National Twenty20 Cricket Tournament on Sunday.
After signing few national players and playing national cricket for the first time, all eyes were set on TAC but the expectations to find a new competitor for mighty APF fizzled out soon after they were bundled out for just 101 in 19.1 overs against a depleted Region No 6 (Baitadi) side.
TAC had their bowlers to thank for as they managed to send Baitadi packing for just 79 in 14.5 overs for a 22-run victory. Man-of-the-match Rahul Kumar BK picked up 4-18 from 2.5 overs for TAC, while Chandra Saud and Rupesh Srivastav picked up two wickets apiece.
Basanta Khatri was the only Baitadi batsman to show his guts with a run-a-ball 25 that included two boundaries and a six. Earlier, TAC were indebted to Indra Kamal Manandhar and Naresh Budhayer for crossing triple figures.
Indra Kamal – a former Kathmandu player – made 26 off 33 and Naresh scored 25 off 30. Ramesh Chand picked up four wickets for Baitadi with Prashant Bist also taking two.
In Group ‘B’ matches, APF hammered Region No 7 (Janakpur) by 137 runs to put their one foot in the semi-finals with seven points from four matches. Birgunj beat Region No 5 (Nepalgunj) reviving their semi-final hopes.
Birgunj have six points from four matches and if they beat Janakpur on Monday, they will go through and knock Nepalgunj (five points) out even if the latter defeat Region No 8 (Pokhara) in their last group stage match on Tuesday.
With batsmen punishing Janakpur bowlers, APF amassed 199-5. Janakpur could only manage 62-7, Raj Mohammad being their top scorer with 40 from 25 that included three hits to the fence.
Man-of-the-match Shakti Gauchan took 3-4 from four overs and Bhuwan Karki took two wickets for APF. Paresh Lohani scored 56 off 55 with six boundaries and a six and watched his teammate hammer one after another Janakpur bowlers all across the park before losing his wicket in the 20th over.
Skipper Paras Khadka clobbered five boundaries and a six on his way to make 36 off 20. Gyanendra Malla made 33 off 21 with four boundaries and a six and Sharad Vesawkar was even dangerous when he hit three sixes and four making 28 off just 11.
Gopal Singh and Abhishek Jha took two wickets each for Janakpur.
Birgunj got off to a decent 42-run opening wicket stand from Hashim Ansari and Amit Shrestha before making 143-8. Nepalgunj were locked at 129-5. Subendu Pandey showed a lot of grit for Janakpur making 53 off 39 with nine boundaries but his efforts were not enough.
Earlier, man-of-the-match Amit made 54 off 56 with six boundaries and Hashim made 26 from 18 with six fours. Akash Bista took 3-24 for Nepalgunj.